Colorado’s nordic skiing scene is on the up and up. More and more people are beginning to realize the health benefits and the associated enjoyment of nordic skiing. Vail has been a nordic hub for many years and has produced tremendous racers. A group of seasoned racers headed to Aspen, while a few others headed to Europe, this past weekend to compete in one of the biggest nordic events in Colorado. Deemed the Owl Creek Chase, the event “has been one of Colorado’s largest, premier cross-country ski races since 1985.” Synonymous to an Alpine NorAm, the super tour races provide athletes the chance to earn World Cup starts for the following season.
Elite athletes from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) had a distinct advantage at the Aspen race. The high altitude training in Vail helps local athletes prepare for races with similar altitudes. Other athletes from Utah, Wyoming, and other low elevation states, came out early to acclimate before the race.
SSCV’s Sylvan Ellefson had a big weekend racing in the Vail’s Winter Mountain Games 10 k freestyle on Friday and then racing in the Super Tour in Aspen on Saturday. Ellefson, who has said he is “typically not a sprinter”, however very well rounded nonetheless, raced his way to a second place finish in the 1.4 km sprint qualifiers in Saturday’s Super Tour. SSCV’s Ryan Scott also performed well in the sprint finishing in 4th overall. Immediately after the sprint was the 10 km individual start. Ellefson again finished second in the 10 km race after coming back from fourth place halfway through the race. “I was pretty tired from the sprint,” Ellefson said. “Just because all of the snow we got, the sprint felt like I was going 10 k pace, so it was a little bit confusing out there.”
Sunday kicked off the big 24 km race from Snowmass all the way into Aspen. Ellefson again finished strong with a solid second place. Cal Deline from SSCV raced well and placed 10th overall and was the top junior at the race.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world SSCV’s nordic super stars Noah Hoffman and Tad Elliot competed in the Swiss National Championships. In the 15 km individual start on Sunday Hoffman had a good race. Well, let’s just say he had an incredible race. Hoffman didn’t just win the race by mere seconds, as is usual in most 15 km races, he won it by an unbelievable 1 minute and 20 seconds. Elliot also raced well in the 15 km race on Sunday and ended in fifth. The two athletes are on the U.S. Ski Team but also train with SSCV’s nordic program. They were also just named to the U.S. World Championships team, which is coming up in two short weeks.
For more results and nordic skiing reports go to fasterskier.com.