The Methow Valley Nordic Team’s Novie McCabe won two national championships, and anchored an all-MVNT team to another first-place finish, at the Junior National Championships in Utah last week.
McCabe also won two first-place titles in last year’s Junior Nationals at Lake Placid, New York, skiing in the U16 division. This year she competed in the U18 girls group.
Several other MVNT skiers had impressive finishes as well.
Racing started on Tuesday (May 6). McCabe took 2nd place in the U18 girls 5K classic race, in which Ella Kuzyk placed 8th. In the U16 boys 5K classic, MVNT’s Walker Hall took 4th place, Travis Grialou was 14th and Ian Delong 27th.
Wednesday’s racing at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, was a skate sprint, team director Leslie Hall reported. She said snow conditions were more-consistent than they would be the rest of the week.
The sprints began with all 380 skiers taking on the 1.4-kilometer loop at 15-second intervals to establish qualifying times within their age groups.
MVNT’s Travis Grialou qualified 10th in the U16 boys group, with Walker Hall in 18th and Bodhi Kuzyk in 23rd. Ian Delong finished 41st and did not qualify to move on.
In the U16 girls group, MVNT’s Eva Weymuller finished 52nd and missed the top-30 qualifying group. McCabe was the third-fastest U18 girls qualifier, and Ella Kuzyk finished 18th, so both moved on to heats. Gretta Scholz finished 45th and did not move on.
The heats started with the U16 boys. “Travis Grialou had a tough quarterfinal, facing Will Koch from New England, who won the qualifier,” Leslie Hall reported. Grialou advanced to the semifinals, as did Walker Hall, who won his quarterfinal race.
Grialou and Walker Hall were in the same semifinal heat, which Hall won. Grialou finished sixth and raced in the B finals, where he finished 2nd, for 8th place overall.
“The A final was hard and fast with Will Koch taking off part-way through and an Intermountain skier chasing him,” Leslie Hall reported. “Walker attempted to follow but couldn’t match their pace. He left the rest of the field and finished a strong 3rd.”
The U18 girls had to wait until the end of the day to ski their heats, Leslie Hall said. McCabe and Ella Kuzyk were in the same quarterfinal, with McCabe finishing 2nd and Kuzyk 3rd, good enough to move on. In the semis, McCabe took 1st place and Kuzyk 6th, which put her in the B finals. Kuzyk skied a strong race to capture the B finals, for 7th place overall.
“Novie had some tough competition in the A final but she was able to leave them behind and won the sprint without a challenge on the final stretch to take her first national championship of the week,” Hall reported.
Thursday was a day off, and racing resumed on Friday with mass start skate races. Friday’s U18 girls mass start 10K was run over three laps of a 3.3K loop.
“It was tough from the start with many skiers suffering from the heat and slow conditions,” Hall said. McCabe had taken a sizeable lead by the second lap, and won the race by more than minute over the 2nd-place finisher, for her second championship. Scholz stayed near the front of the pack and finished 7th. Kuzyk struggled with tiredness and the snow conditions and was unable to finish the race.
The U16 boys were up next, skiing two laps on a 2.5K loop in deteriorating conditions. Walker Hall took 7th place, with Travis Griaolu 17th, Ian Delong 35th and Bodhi Kuzyk 43rd.
The U16 girls had the most difficult conditions of the day, racing the 5K course after everyone else. Eva Weymuller finished 30th in a field of 59 competitors.
Relay races were on Saturday. Three-member teams skied a 10K race, with each skier taking one 3.3K loop.
The Pacific Northwest Ski Association U18 girls team was comprised entirely of MVNT skiers. Ella Kuzyk led off, Scholz took the second leg and McCabe anchored. Kuzyk handed off in 4th place, and Scholz worked her way up to 2nd when she tagged McCabe — 40 seconds behind the New England team.
“Novie put her head down and charged around the course, passing the New England skier about halfway around and coming in another 45 seconds ahead of them,” Leslie Hall said — putting all three MVNT skiers at the top of the podium.
In the U16 boys race, featuring another all-MVNT team, Travis Grialou led off, handing off to Ian Delong in 4th position, just 3 seconds from 3rd. Delong handed off to Walker Hall in 6th place. Hall turned it on with the fastest time of the day, moving the MVNT team up to 3rd place and another podium spot.
For complete results, visit summittiming.net/races/race_results_for_junior_nationals_2018.php.