Note: This is the 10th preview in our U.S. elite-team series, called the “The 12.” We asked coaches to tell us what’s new and whom to look out for this season, and we’ll publish additional previews in the coming weeks in no particular order.
Team name: XC Oregon
Coach: J.D. Downing (coach/program director, 16th year)
National/International Elite Roster: Santiago Ocariz, Matt Briggs; Carolyn Ocariz, Sarah Max.
Associate roster: 12-15 additional associate skiers will join the roster come November, according to Downing, who is “still finalizing plans with a bunch of folks.”
Who’s new: Downing expects several top regional associate skiers to come onboard, but not at the national/international elite level.
Who’s missing: Oliver Burruss, who’s “entering the ‘real world’ ” in Burlington, Vt., Downing writes.
Top results last season: A couple months before his first child was born, Santi Ocariz made the most out of the Noquemanon Ski Marathon in Marquette, Mich., winning the 50 k classic in January. He went on to win Bend’s pinnacle spring event, the Pole Pedal Paddle, in May just two months after his wife and teammate, Carolyn, gave birth to Sonia. As you can imagine, Santi didn’t get to train as much as he would’ve liked.
“I don’t think I have trained this little in a year since I was a junior in high school,” Ocariz wrote in an email after the race. “However, what I lacked for in time, I made up in effort.”
Max won the women’s race to complete the XC Oregon sweep, and in February, the 38-year-old topped the podium at the 58 k Mora Vasaloppet in Minnesota.
“For 2013/14 we’ll have a bit of a ‘factory team’ feel with fewer full-time skiers than some years, but a whole lot of talented people involved,” Downing wrote in an email.
“Santiago and Carolyn Ocariz will be out of the state much of the year with school [in the Midwest], but it’ll be fun seeing what those two can pull off,” Downing explained.
The rest of the team will race “a mixed bag of events” for the duration of the season, mostly within the Pacific Northwest and at select marathons, and not so much at big domestic races like nationals and SuperTour series.
“Our big focus once this winter winds down will be attracting 4-6 new high performance athletes to target the national/international scene beginning Spring/Summer 2014,” Downing wrote. “Bend is an amazing spot so basing here for a few years (or longer) is rarely a tough sell. But we are also happy to incorporate athletes living anywhere in Oregon. The flexibility and quality of the XC Oregon system has stood the test of time so we know any skier than joins us is going to have what they need to reach their goals — whatever they may be.
“We have already banked resources to guarantee an exceptional level of financial and logistical support for new athletes for several seasons. The consistency of our support is amazing and a direct reflection of the quality of XC Oregon delivery over 16 years. Our incredible sponsors and patrons have believed in XC Oregon because we don’t try and be something we aren’t. We help skiers achieve their goals. We attract quality people. We constantly support our community. We do all this the right way. Simple as that.
Whether someone is interested in chasing the Olympic pipeline or marathons or a little bit of everything — interested skiers should visit xcoregon.org and feel free to get in touch at any time over the coming 8-10 months.”
Other previews: Alaska Pacific University | Bend Endurance Academy |Bridger Ski Foundation | Craftsbury GRP | Maine Winter Sports Center | Methow OD | SSCV/Team HomeGrown | Stratton Mountain School T2 | Sun Valley SEF Gold Team