Methow Valley Nordic Team (MVNT) skiers headed in two directions over Presidents’ Day weekend, with a small contingent heading to Spokane for the final Junior National Qualifier and a larger group heading to the BC Championships in Kamloops, B.C.
Four of the older skiers had already clinched their spots on the Junior National team that is headed to Lake Placid, New York, on March 3. Illness or changed plans had taken others out, so Taya and Ian Delong were the lone MVNT members working to find spots on the Pacific Northwest Ski Association (PNSA) team at the Spokane qualifier.
Saturday was a classic mass start race at Mt. Spokane. Ian skied a solid 5-kilometer race, ending up ninth in the competitive U16 boys division. That was not going to do a lot to help his attempts to make the Junior National team, MVNT director Leslie Hall reported, so he left the race ready to put it all on the line on Sunday.
Taya, still recovering from an appendectomy on Jan. 30, skied in her first 10K race. “She did well, but tired near the end and definitely felt the lack of core strength, finishing in fifth in the U18 girls,” Hall noted. That put Taya in a pretty firm position for the Junior National team, but she needed a fourth race to solidify her spot, Hall said.
Sunday was an individual start skate race. Ian skied a great race, following eventual third-place finisher Patrick Korus and ending up fifth in his class.
Taya took on her second 10K race and worked hard throughout, fading a bit in the end but hanging on to finish third in the U18 girls’ class, Hall said.
The Junior National team qualification is somewhat complicated with many variables, Hall said. In the end, the MVNT will send five skiers to the Junior Nationals: Novie McCabe, Walker Hall, Gretta Scholz, Travis Grialou and Taya Delong.
Ella Hall, a former MVNT athlete now at Dartmouth College, will also attend and ski for PNSA. Emerson Worrell and Peter Aspholm would have qualified but both opted not to go. Eli Nielsen could also attend but opted to go on the Liberty Bell High School junior class Close Up trip to Washington, D.C., instead.
Big group at Kamloops
A crew of 23 MVNT racers aged 7-16 went to the BC Championships in Kamloops, where they dealt with some rain and hilly courses, Hall reported. More than 400 athletes competed each of the three days.
Friday was a classic mass start race. Harriet Schkrohowsky was the first MVNT racer out, finishing sixth in the Atom class (6-7 year-olds). Ben Kaufman started the day off well, finishing third in the PeeWee race (8-9 year-olds), with Emil Schkrohowsky finishing 12th.
In the PeeWee Girls’ 2K race, Marit Nelson had a tight race, finishing second by less than 2 seconds. Marta Schkrohowsky was not far behind in fourth place among the field of 28 girls. The Bantam girls were set to race 2.5K but somehow they all went around the 3.5K loop, coach Hall said. Dashe McCabe was outsprinted and ended up second with Stella Scholz in third, Leki Albright in 13th and Thomasin Schkrohowsky in 24th.
The 12-13 year-old girls (known as Midgets in Canada) raced a challenging 3K course and several MVNT skiers had a hard time on the downhills, Hall said. Eva Weymuller came in 10th, Jori Grialou 11th, Lindsay Worrell 12th, Keeley Brooks 15th, Lena Nelson 17th, Mariah Lucy 24th and Wyatt Albright 28th in the field of 40 girls.
Juvenile boys (ages 14-15) had a 7K mass start. Walker Hall skied strongly to take second place. Travis Grialou finished eighth and Emerson Worrell 16th with 36 in their class. Novie McCabe continued her dominating ways, winning the Juvenile Girls’ race, and Gretta Scholz finished seventh.
Saturday was an individual-start skate race. Harriet Schkrohowsky finished seventh in the 1K skate. Ben Kaufman had an even better day, winning the PeeWee boys’ race, with Emil Schkrohowsky finishing 12th again.
Stella Scholz topped the Bantam girls’ race, followed closely by Dashe McCabe in second, Leki Albright in 14th and Thomasin Schkrohowsky in 20th. The Midget girls had a better day, skiing 3.5K, with Liv Aspholm placing third, Lindsay Worrell in sixth, Keeley Brooks in seventh, Jori Grialou in 12th, Eva Weymuller in 13th, Mariah Lucy in 19th, Lena Nelson in 26th, Wyatt Albright in 32nd and Payten Kaufman in 39th.
The Juveniles raced 5K, and Walker Hall had a great race to take first place. Travis Grialou came in 11th and Emerson Worrell 14th. In the girls’ field, Novie McCabe had a very strong race, winning by over a minute (on the sixth-fastest time on the 5K course against the boys). Gretta Scholz finished third.
Sunday was a three-person classic relay. Three skiers raced on each team and they combined several age groups. “We didn’t have full teams in some fields so we combined with Canadian skiers,” Hall said.
Marit Nelson mixed it up with some Canadian Peewees, skiing the second-fastest time on her leg to bring her team into fifth place. MVNT had four teams in the Midget girls’ event. The first team placed third, comprised of Lindsay Worrell, Eva Weymuller and Liv Aspholm. The Pink Ladies, Keeley Brooks, Lena Nelson and Jori Grialou, placed fourth; Wyatt Albright and Mariah Lucy teamed up with a Canadian skier for 10th place; followed by the Bantam team of Stella Scholz, Leki Albright and Dashe McCabe in 11th against the older girls.
The 14-19 year-olds went head-to-head, with the MVNT boys’ team of Travis Grialou, Emerson Worrell and Walker Hall placing seventh against the big boys. Hadassah Lurber (Leavenworth), Gretta Scholz and Novie McCabe won the Junior girls’ relay. A parent team of Laura McCabe, Erik Brooks and Julie Grialou jumped into the adult class, finishing fifth.
Eli Nielsen is in Slovakia for biathlon World Junior Championships, Hall noted. Results can be found at www.biathlonworld.com, with competitions starting on Wednesday (Feb. 22). Junior National information can be found at www.xcjuniornationals2017.com. Racing starts on March 6.