Several Methow Valley Nordic Team (MVNT) athletes recently traveled to Houghton, Michigan, to compete in the U.S. National Championships for Nordic skiing, team director Leslie Hill reported. The events serve as selection races for several international trips, and about 400 skiers gathered on the Upper Peninsula.
Scheduled were a freestyle sprint on Jan. 2, an individual start freestyle race on Jan. 3 and a mass start classic event on Jan. 5. Hill reported that the skiers had good conditions for the sprint event with light snow falling and temperatures in the low 30s.
MVNT’s Novie McCabe had a great qualifier, finishing 9th among all the women to move on to the senior heats, where she was eliminated in the quarterfinals, finishing 18th overall. Gretta Scholz finished 87th in the qualifier but just missed top 30 juniors in 31st place, so was done for the day. Walker Hall had a strong qualifier in the men’s field, finishing 67th overall but 12th for the junior heats. He decided not to race the heats to try to recover from an illness. Travis Grialou finished 130th in the qualifier and Aidan Whitelaw 191st. Former MVNT skiers Erik Bjornsen and Brian Gregg also competed. Bjornsen ended up 8th overall and Gregg finished 84th.
In the individual freestyle races, the women raced two laps of the 5-kilometer loop and the men raced three laps. Novie McCabe had another solid race, finishing 13th overall and 3rd for the juniors. “This set her up well to make the World Junior Team with selection being best two of the first three races,” Hill said.
Gretta Scholz skied smoothly into 54th place as the 17th junior and Greta Laesch finished 88th as the 36th junior. The men’s field was packed, with Erik Bjornsen charging to a tie for 3rd place overall. Brian Gregg finished 42nd. Walker Hall skied to 67th place overall and 20th in the junior field, Travis Grialou 122nd as the 33rd junior, and Aidan Whitelaw finished 214th as the 102nd junior.
Sunday was a snowy day for the classic races with the older men heading out first for a 30K race. Erik Bjornsen won the national title. The junior women raced a 7.5K classic mass start with a field of over 100 skiers. Novie McCabe again skied strong and steady, finishing in 4th place. Gretta Scholz skied to 36th place followed by Greta Laesch in 45th.
The senior women skied the course next, racing four laps of the 5K course followed by the junior men racing a mass start 10K in the thickening snow. Walker Hall was on the edge of qualifying for a trip to the Scandinavian Cup in Falun, Sweden. He skied a strong race to finish 11th but was edged out at the finish by another U18 boy who qualified in the last spot. Travis Grialou skied well to 29th place and Aidan Whitelaw finished 88th.
Novie McCabe is part of a six-woman team heading to Oberwiesenthal, Germany, in late February for the World Junior Championships. Walker Hall is the first alternate for the Scandinavian Cup trip in mid-January.
The skiers competed Tuesday (Jan. 7) in a classic sprint before heading back to the Methow. Many skiers will be heading to Bend, Oregon, this weekend for the first Junior National Qualifier race. The skiers are competing for spots at the Junior Nationals in Truckee, California, in March.