The Methow Valley Nordic Team (MVNT) completed four demanding days of racing last week at the Junior National Championships in Anchorage, Alaska, and came away with competitive performances across the board.
Fourteen skiers representing MVNT and the Pacific Northwest Ski Association (PNSA) made the trip, which started with freestyle racing and concluded on Saturday (March 16) with relay races.
Classic sprint races were on March 13. “With fields of 70 skiers and more, qualifying for the heats was a challenge in itself,” MVNT director Leslie Hall reported.
All three MVNT U18 boys — Walker Hall, Garrett Butts and Travis Grialou — qualified for the heats. “Both Garrett and Travis were out in the quarterfinals, finishing 16th and 20th for the day,” Leslie Hall reported. Walker Hall advanced to the semis where he had some bad luck and was tangled up, ending near the back of his heat. In the B final, he moved up to third place in the race and ninth overall for the day.
For the U18 girls, Ella-Sophie Kuzyk, Gretta Scholz and Greta Laesch qualified, while Hadassah Lurbur qualified in the U20 ladies’ race. In the U18 girls’ heats, Laesch fell in her quarterfinal and finished 27th for the day. Scholz did not advance but improved her qualifier placing to end up 19th. Kuzyk earned a “lucky loser” position into the semi-finals but missed making the A final, Hall reported. She battled her way to finish fifth in the B final, 11th on the day.
Lurbur advanced to the semi-finals but she too ended up in the B final, where she finished 12th overall.
In the U16 boys’ competition, Bodhi Kuzyk had the fastest qualifying time of his class. He won his quarterfinal and semi-final but was tired at the end of the day and settled for fifth place overall.
Jori Grialou and Eva Weymuller advanced to the heats for the U16 girls. Both were eliminated in the quarterfinals, finishing in 21st and 30th overall respectively.
Thursday was a much-needed day off from racing in anticipation of the mass start classic races on Friday.
“Friday was colder and the snow had firmed up significantly with ice hard tracks for the U16 boys who led off the racing with a 5-kilometer classic mass start,” Hall reported. “It was crazy out there with 75 boys battling on four solid tracks around the loop. Bodhi Kuzyk didn’t have his best day, finishing 47th.”
In the U16 girls’ race, Jori Grialou led the Methow crew in 20th place followed by Keeley Brooks in 46th, Lilia Kuzyk in 51st, Eva Weymuller in 58th and Mahali Kuzyk in 73rd. Mariah Lucy had a stomach bug and was unable to compete.
The U18 boys raced a 10K mass start. MVNT’s Walker Hall finished 11th; Travis Grialou broke a pole but skied strongly and still managed 16th place. Garret Butts battled with slippery skis and finished 44th.
The U18 girls also skied two 5K laps. Ella-Sophie Kuzyk hung tough for a 17th-place finish, followed by Gretta Scholz in 31st and Greta Laesch in 51st. Hadassah Lurbur finished 16th in the U20 ladies 10K.
The last event of the week was the 3X3K freestyle relay. In some cases, MVNT members joined with other PNSA athletes to form teams. Bodhi Kuzyk joined up with two skiers from Bend Endurance Academy and the team finished fifth place overall for All American status in the U16 boys’ race. An all-Methow U16 girls’ team of Keeley Brooks, Lilia Kuzyk and Eva Weymuller finished 12th. Jori Grialou’s team, including two skiers from Spokane Nordic, took 16th place. Mariah-May Lucy and Mahali teamed up with a skier from Mt. Bachelor for a 21st-place finish.
“The U18 girls knew they would have strong competition from the New England, Alaska and Midwest teams,” Hall reported. Ella Kuzyk skied the leadoff leg for the first PNSA team, tagged off to Gretta Scholz who pulled the team into third, and Annie McColgan from Mt. Bachelor SEF finished off the race with a solid third place. Greta Laesch skied smoothly, moving her team up from 18th to finish 13th, Hall said. Hadassah Lurbur skied a strong start to her leadoff leg in the U20 relay but an icy corner got the best of her and she fell hard, Hall reported. Her team ended up eighth.
The U18 boys’ race featured three MVNT skiers — Garrett Butts, Travis Grialou and Walker Hall — in an exciting race that saw them claim a podium spot with a third-place finish.
MVNT member Novie McCabe was also racing last weekend in the European OPA cup finals. She had two top-10 finishes with a ninth in Friday’s freestyle sprint and eighth in a 10K classic mass start on Saturday, Hall reported.
U20 girls: Heat B finals, Hadassah Lurbur 6th
U18 girls: Heat B finals, Ella-Sophie Kuzyk 5th; Gretta Scholz, 19th; Greta Laesch, 27th
U16 boys: Heat A finals, Bodhi Kuzyk, 5th
U16 girls: Jordi Grialou 21st; Eva Weymuller 30th; Keeley Brooks 46th; Lilia Kuzyk 49th; Mariah-May Lucy 57th; Mahali Kuzyk 70th
U18 boys: B heat finals, Walker Hall 9th; Garrett Butts 16th; Travis Grialou 20th
MASS START CLASSIC
U20 girls: Hadassah Lurbur 16th
U18 boys: Walker Hall 11th; Travis Grialou 16th; Garrett Butts 44th
U18 girls: Ella-Sophie Kuzyk 17th; Gretta Scholz 31st; Greta Laesch 51st
U16 boys: Bodhi Kuzyk 47th
U16 girls: Jordi Grialou 20th; Keeley Brooks 46th; Lilia Kuzyk 51st; Eva Weymuller 58th; Mahali Kuzyk 73rd; Mariah-May Lucy DNS
U16 girls: Jordi Grialou, Annaby Kanning (Spokane Nordic), Bridget Burns (Spokane Nordic), 16th; Keeley Brooks, Lilia Kuzyk, Eva Weymuller, 12th; Mariah-May Lucy, Mahali Kuzyk, Katelyn Costello (Mount Bachelor), 21st
U18 girls: Ella-Sophie Kuzyk, Gretta Scholz, Annie McColgan (Mount Bachelor), 3rd; Greta Laesch, Alice McKnight (Bend Endurance Academy), Stella Johnson (Leavenworth Winter Sports Club), 13th.
U20 girls: Hadassah Lurbur, Lauren Potyk (Spokane Nordic), Sarah Kilroy (Mount Bachelor), 8th
U18 boys: Garrett Butts, Travis Grialou, Walker Hall, 3rd
U16 boys: Bodhi Kuzyk, Jack Conde, Aidan Whitelaw (Bend Endurance Academy), 5th