The Methow Valley Nordic Team (MVNT) came away with two national championships at the recent Junior Nationals competition in Truckee, California.
Gretta Scholz took first place in the U-20 women’s 1.3-kilometer freestyle sprint. Teammate Walker Hall was the winner of the U-18 men’s 1.3K freestyle sprint. And, MVNT finished 5th out of 35 teams in the national club standings in competition that was shortened because of COVID-19 concerns.
“It was a solid day for PNSA [Pacific Northwest Ski Association including MVNT], maybe the best ever at Junior Nationals with many top 10 finishes and two national titles — in part due to the fast skis the wax staff led by Pete Leonard provided,” MVNT Director Leslie Hall said. “We were all ready to roll for Friday’s mass start events and Saturday’s relays, but on Thursday morning got the word that the event was being shut down and we needed to head home and end the season.”
Scheduled for Wednesday (March 11) were the skate sprints. Racers competed only against their two-year age groups, with a qualifier race in the morning. The top 30 skiers in each age category moved on to the heats.
The younger classes started the day, with MVNT’s Graham Sheley finishing 65th in the U16 boys’ class. The U16 girls were up next. Mariah Lucy and Stella Scholz pushed hard weren’t able to make the top 30, finishing in 52nd and 63rd respectively. Jori Grialou came in 28th and advanced to the heats.
In the U18 men’s race, Walker Hall had the fastest time to qualify in 1st, with Travis Grialou qualifying in 6th place. Ian Delong finished in 48th place and Aidan Whitelaw finished 77th.
In the U18 girls’ race, several PNSA skiers qualified, with MVNT’s Keeley Brooks eking out the 30th spot, .03 seconds ahead of 31st. Eva Weymuller finished in 57th. Greta Laesch was under the weather and hoping to rest up for Friday’s planned race. Gretta Scholz qualified in 7th for the U20 women.
“With four Methow skiers heading into the heats and many PNSA skiers joining them, the day was off to a good start,” Hall said. The U16 boys and girls raced first as the snow became softer and softer. “Jori Grialou fought hard in her quarterfinal but was unable to advance,” Hall said.
In the U18 rounds, Travis Grialou and Walker Hall won their quarterfinals easily to advance to the semi-finals. Hall won the semis and Grialou finished 4th, good enough to advance to the A final to vie for top six positions.
In the final, Hall surged over the last two hills to ski in for the win, ahead of 100 other skiers. Grialou was coming on strong down the finishing lanes in a battle for 3rd place but ended lunging for the line and finishing in 4th, Leslie Hall reported.
Keeley Brooks was in the first quarterfinal for the U18 girls and skied most of it at the back of the six-person group, Hall said. But she was able to turn it on at the end and finish 4th in her quarterfinal, moving into 20th place overall.
In the U20 women’s competition, MVNT’s Gretta Scholz easily won her quarterfinal and finished 2nd in her semifinal to advance to the A final against 28 other competitors.
“She skied a great race and was able to pull away from all her competitors over the last two hills and skied into the finish alone for the victory,” Hall reported.
Hall said the season ended prematurely, as end-of-the season races in Canada were cancelled. Meanwhile, the World Cup race that the Methow Valley’s Novie McCabe was scheduled to compete in was also cancelled.
In statement, U.S. Ski & Snowboard said that “due to the recently enacted European travel restrictions, and ongoing concerns in the United States and Canada regarding the novel coronavirus, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is cancelling all remaining U.S. domestic events, and working to return all U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes back to the United States. In addition, Alpine Canada and Nordiq Canada have cancelled events to coincide with U.S. Ski & Snowboard.”