They say â€œIt takes a village,â€ and in the case of last Friday’s CNISSF SPRINTS at Surprise Stadium, it takes a village at least the size of Truckee to pull off what has become one of the premier exhibits of cross country ski sprint racing in the West.
Blessed this year with â€œGoldilocks Conditionsâ€ (not too little snow, but not too much of it, either), plus incredible weather and conditions for sprint racing, the school-league Sprints at Truckee High brought full-grill smiles to competitor and spectators alike. Truckee’s Nordic Team coaching staff of Jon Halvorsen, Larry Leather, and Brian Kehoe (ACMS) brought together a huge team of volunteers to pull off this spectacular event, complete with an early time-trial for points and seedings, followed by rough-and-tumble head-to-head competition to crown the sprint king and queen for 2008.
With each athlete making it two-for-two in League Competition, Truckee High’s Bernie Nelson and Russell Kennedy sprinted away from the field in both the qualifying round and the subsequent heats, showing that both are adept at both longer courses and this event’s short 1 kilometer length. Each racer was undefeated throughout the day, leading up to the final round of the top 8 competitors in both the Boys and Girls competitions.
By the time of the final round of 8, the skies were dark, but, with the help of generators and the local fire department’s bright spots, racers could still zoom around the course leading from the football field, across the rise to the trail winding through nearby practice field, then back up the stadium border and finally screaming down â€œSurprise Hillâ€ back onto the track.
Final results for the Boys besides Kennedy included Tom McElravey of North Tahoe moving up through the field into the second spot, and Truckee’s Stefan Benier taking third. Ryan Zusy of Truckee was the top â€œOpenâ€ (non-Varsity) skier on the day, with a remarkable 3rd place finish in the qualifying rounds, and then moving all the way through the quarter’s and semi’s into the finals, finally finishing 7th overall.
Behind Nelson for the Girls, it was once again Sophie Aaron and Annika Taylor of Truckee battling it out for the 2nd spot, each winning their quarterfinal heat, and Taylor taking the semi-final. But it was Aaron who managed 2nd on the day in the Finals, edging out her competitor at the end of a very long day of ski racing.
In the Middle School division, Alder Creek’s dominance took a major hit at these competitions, with North Tahoe’s Tenaya Driller winning the Final Girls competition over Alder Creek’s Sarah Williams and Mammoth’s Laurel Fiddler. In the Boys division, Patrick McElravey of North Tahoe made it a Lake-side sweep on the day, cruising to his overall win over Mammoth Middle School’s Alex Picken and Alder Creek’s Alex Kopytko.
Next week’s League Race takes competitors south to Mammoth Lakes for their first Classic-technique competition of the season. For more information about all the CNISSF races, with results and photos, go to www.farwestnordic.org.