The Methow Valley Nordic Team has had a busy couple of weeks of travel and competition.
The 9- to 12-year-old racers headed to the B.C. Midget Championships in Salmon Arm, B.C., on Jan. 23 – 24, and the 13- to 18-year-olds raced at the 2002 Olympic Venue at Soldier Hollow, Utah, on Jan. 29 – 30.
Meanwhile, Claire Waichler has been racing in Romania at the World Junior Biathlon Championships. And Eli Nielsen will be part of the 62-member 2016 U.S. Youth Olympic Team that will compete at the second Winter Youth Olympic Games from Feb. 12 – 21 in Lillehammer, Norway.
The Midget racers competed in a 2-kilometer mass start classical event against skiers of their same birth year on the morning of Jan. 23. In the girls’ 2003 age group, Liv Aspholm made it onto the podium with a second-place finish, followed by Lindsay Worrell in fourth, Lena Nelson in seventh, Keeley Brooks in eighth and Eva Weymuller in 12th.
In the boys’ 2003 age category, Zane Strome finished a strong seventh. In the 2004 group, Jori Grialou was sixth and Mariah Lucy finished 10th in a group of 30.
In the 2005 class, Dashe McCabe placed fifth just ahead of teammate Stella Scholz, who finished in sixth.
That afternoon featured the team relay race, a highlight event at Midgets, with all the ages combining to make teams that compete for their clubs. The Methow girls were able to field two teams, with Lindsay Worrell, Lena Nelson, Keeley Brooks and Liv Aspholm combining as the “Scars and Stripes” team to win first place. Each of these racers had the first- or second-fastest time on their legs of the relay.
The younger team of Mariah Lucy, Dashe McCabe, Stella Scholz and Jori Grialou placed an impressive fifth overall in the relay. Zane Strome and Eva Weymuller joined mixed relay teams (with skiers from Canadian clubs) to take part in the competition.
On Jan. 24, the skiers raced in a freestyle sprint, with qualifying rounds and heats for all skiers on a 300-meter course. The Methow girls swept the top four spots, with Liv Aspholm winning the 2003 class followed by Lindsay Worrell in second, Keeley Brooks in third and Eva Weymuller in fourth.
Lena Nelson won the “B” final for a seventh-place finish. Zane Strome finished in sixth place after falling in the final. In the 2004 group, Mariah Lucy made it onto the podium with a third-place finish and Jori Grialou placed seventh. Dashe McCabe was second for the 2005 girls’ race and Stella Scholz placed fourth. Dashe McCabe also took one of two technique awards in the skate race.
Upbeat in Utah
In Utah, Methow Valley athletes faced competitors from the entire Western region, with over 700 racers competing over the weekend.
Jan. 30 featured a classic sprint day for the 14- to 18-year-olds and a short 1.3K race for the 12- to 13-year -olds. The top 30 skiers from the morning qualifier advanced to the heats in the older skiers races.
With fields of up to 150 skiers (in the men’s U18/20 field), advancing can be matter of tenths of a second. Peter Aspholm barely missed moving on, placing 31st, with Emerson Worrell a close 33rd in the U16 boys’ qualifier. Eli Nielsen, recovering from a recent illness, placed 45th and Geza Sukovaty placed 124th. In the U14 classic 1.3K, Walker Hall placed third and Travis Grialou finished in 17th.
On the girls’ side, Novie McCabe advanced all the way through to the finals in the U16 girls’ race, finishing fourth on the day after four rounds on the 1.3K course. Gretta Scholz barely missed qualifying, with a 34th-place finish in the qualifier. Ella Hall advanced to the quarterfinals, where she made an impressive move to take the lead, but then had little left for the finish and was unable to advance, finishing 23rd on the day in the ladies’ U18/20 category. Bend Endurance Academy skier Maya Seckinger made it through to the B final, finishing 12th in that category.
On Jan. 30, skate races were on the agenda. The athletes faced freestyle mass start competitions of varying lengths. The 72 U14 boys charged around a 3K loop. Walker Hall put on a super sprint over the final hill and ended up in second place in the class. Travis Grialou moved through the field with a few mishaps and finished the day in 11th.
Next up was the U16 boys’ 5K, with about 90 boys battling head-to-head. Emerson Worrell placed 51st and Peter Aspholm, having to extricate himself from a snowbank mid-race, placed 61st.
Novie McCabe took advantage of a front-row start position and led the U16 girls’ 5K race from start to finish, leaving her attackers behind at about 2K mark to finish 10 seconds ahead of second place. Gretta Scholz had a strong race, coming in ninth.
The U18/20 ladies followed with a 10K mass start. Ella Hall took a fourth-place finish overall, coming in first for the U20 women. The U18/20 males had to battle three times around the challenging 5K loop. Eli Nielsen worked his way into the race and continually improved, ending the day in 45th for his first 15K event. Geza Sukovaty finished in 100th place. Full results can be found at http://summittiming.com/races/race_results.php.
On the international biathlon scene, biathlete Claire Waichler is learning the ropes. In her first two events she placed 67th and 58th out of 90 women, missing 50 percent of her shots in both races. Her 58th place was good enough to qualify her to compete in the pursuit event (top 60 finishers move on) and she had a great race on Jan. 31 in the pursuit, moving up through the field with the 13th-fastest ski time and some better shooting, ending up in 33rd place at the end of the day.
Waichler was scheduled to race on a relay team in the next age category (junior women) on Tuesday (Feb. 2).
The next event for the team is the Spokane Junior Qualifier on Feb. 13 – 14 at Mt. Spokane. This is the PNSA U14 Championships, and the PNSA Junior National Team will be named. Seven Methow Valley Nordic Team skiers are hopeful of making the Junior National Team, which will compete in Cable, Wisconsin, on March 7 – 12.