Photo by John McColgan

Travis Grialou anchored the PNSA No. 2 relay team that finished 18th.

The Methow Valley Nordic Team’s Novie McCabe took another national title in the U16 girls’ sprint race last week at the Nordic Junior National Championships in Lake Placid, New York.

Earlier, Novie McCabe took first place in the U16 girls’ 5-kilometer race.

The classic spring competition began last Wednesday (March 8), as fickle weather played havoc with skiing conditions, team director Leslie Hall reported.

Three MVNT racers made it through qualifying rounds in the morning, Hall said. Walker Hall qualified in sixth place for the U16 boys, McCabe qualified first in U16 girls’ competition (with the third-fastest time of the day among girls in all age brackets), and Gretta Scholz qualified 30th in U16 girls’ racing.

Travis Grialou just missed qualifying in the U16 boys’ bracket by 1.3 seconds, finishing 32nd. In U18 girls’ competition, MVNT’s Taya Delong finished 48th out of 85 competitors and did not advance.

In the next round, the U16 boys’ heats were competitive but Walker Hall had a strong quarterfinal, finishing second and moving on to the semis. In the semifinals, he finished third and did not advance to the A finals.

“Unfortunately the tough day was taking its toll and Walker was tired for this effort and had some bad luck in spots, ending up 12th on the day — still a great finish,” Leslie Hall said. 

In the U16 girls’ heats, Scholz and McCabe were vying for spots in the final. “Gretta got tangled up in her quarterfinal and wasn’t able to regain the front group, ending up fifth in her round and not advancing to the semis,” Hall said. McCabe won her semifinal heat and advanced to the finals.

“She [McCabe] faced tough competition and fatigue from the long day of racing, but she skied well, remaining calm and fighting to the top of the hills, where she was in second starting back towards the stadium,” Hall reported. “The racers zoomed down a hill with Novie gaining on the New England skier ahead of her. They rounded behind some bleachers where they were out of sight for all the spectators, and when they came back into view, Novie was in the lead.” Once again, McCabe took the champion’s spot on the podium

In Friday’s 10K classic, Delong had a rough day and decided that she wasn’t totally recovered from her recent appendectomy, “but she pushed through the pain to finish in 71st place, then went to find out that she may have a hernia at her surgery site, so no more racing for her,” Hall reported.

The U16 girls raced a 5K classic at later in the day. McCabe woke up with a slight sore throat and stuffiness but decided to race, Hall said. She had the leading times for most of the race, but two late finishers bumped her down to third, Hall said. Scholz finished sixth.

The U16 boys were up next with their 5K classic. Walker Hall skied strongly in spite of some mishaps, and was sitting in eighth place for quite a while. Grialou had a strong race too, looking like he might get a top-20 finish, Leslie Hall said.

But later racers finished strong to bump Walker Hall into 20th place and Grialou into 32nd.

On Saturday, skiers took on 3K freestyle relays. Walker Hall skied a solid second leg on the Pacific Northwest Ski Association (PNSA) No. 1 team, which finished seventh out of 21 teams. Grialou was the anchor for the PNSA No. 2 team, which finished in 18th place.

McCabe decided to sit out the relays. Scholz skied the second leg for the PNSA No. 1 team that took third place.

The racers will regroup for the week before a small group heads to Canmore, Alberta, to take part in the Canadian National Championships on March 18 – 25.