Jori Grialou again led the way for the Methow Valley Nordic Team as they placed a number of skiers high in the results at the PNW Junior National Qualifier Meet near Bend, Oregon, last weekend.
Grialou placed second among the U-18 class in the women’s 5-kilometer skate Saturday and first on Sunday in the U-18 10K classic, both races counting for points toward an invitation to Junior Nationals later this winter.
In contrast to the chilly, sub-freezing fog of last week’s hometown Race of the Methow, the skiers were racing under clear blue skies and near 50-degree temperatures. Indeed, a number of racers elected to ski sleeveless, trading frostbite for sunburn.
In the U-18 division, Stella Scholz and Mariah Lucy again had strong performances, Scholz placing third and Lucy fifth in Sunday’s 10K classic race. In the Saturday skate competition, Scholz was sixth and Lucy eighth.
Dashe McCabe also had a solid meet, skiing to second-place finishes in both U-16 5K races. Marta Schkrohowski placed sixth in the 5K U-16 skate and fifth in the 5K U-16 classic race. Marit Nelson skied in the 5K skate as a U-14 and placed third in her class.
In the U-16 5K classic for men, Dexter Delaney and Emmett Bondi placed 12th and 13th, respectively, after placing eighth (Delaney) and 12th (Bondi) in Saturday’s 5K skate. The Sheley twins, Graham and Carter, were 10th and 12th in the U-18 skate, reversing places in the 10K classic with Carter in eighth and Graham in 10th on Sunday.
Aidan Sands and Ben Kaufman also had an excellent meet, essentially trading places from Saturday to Sunday in the 3K races for the U-14 age group. Sands placed first in the skate on Saturday, with Kaufman back two places in third. Kaufman won the Sunday classic ski and Sands was the runner-up in second place. In the U-10, Dylan Sands placed second in the 3K Saturday skate and completed his weekend with first place in the 3K classic.
Maren Sands maybe outdid everyone on the weekend, doubling as the U-12 winner in both 3K races. Nora Bollinger placed third in both U-14 3K races for women.
The Methow Valley team was also awarded the trophy for the most podium appearances and recognized for sportsmanship during the two-day event.
Coach Sam Naney said that only the U-16 and U-18 classes are garnering points to qualify for Nationals this year. “We have some skiers who are solidly qualifying, such as Jori Grialou, who is near or at the top of her races each time,” Naney said. “Others are also in solid standing,” pointing to Stella Scholz and Dashe McCabe.
“A few of our skiers are hovering right on the bubble and it might come down to how they perform in the last weekend of races, two weeks from now in Spokane [Feb. 18-20 at Mount Spokane State Park],” the coach said.
Naney was also quick to point out that there is a pretty talented group of U-14s ready to step up to the higher level next year. “Our U-14 skiers are not vying for Junior Nationals this year, but are showing strong promise of being contenders when they are eligible next season,” he said.