Nordic athletes from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) headed over Vail Pass to compete at the third JNQ race in Frisco this past weekend. The team was incredibly successful at the event and came away with numerous podium finishes across all age groups.
The JNQ races are some of the biggest races of the season for a lot of the participating athletes. With four race weekends in total, these racers are looking for a spot on the coveted Rocky Mountain Nordic Junior National Team. The race pulled in athletes from throughout Colorado. With just over 225 racers and the track littered with spectators it was a great showing.
The SSCV’s athletes competed tremendously well at the event, which helped to solidify necessary points for the RMN Junior National Team. “Most of our athletes are in for the RMN junior nationals team already and we have a few that are on the bubble,” said SSCV’s nordic coach Eric Pepper. The final JNQ race will take place in Durango and the RMN Junior National team will be selected following the race. Once selected, the Junior National Team will be competing in Fairbanks Alaska in mid-March against other regions.
Friday was the classic mass start 10 km race for the men’s seniors, JOs, and J1’s. Although the senior racers are not eligible for the junior national team, they are still eligible to compete with the other racers. On the women’s side was the classic mass start 5 km. The SSCV team has been dominating the competition scene with their standout athletes like Ian Boucher, Parker McDonald, Cully Brown, Cal Deline, Christian Shanley, Caleb Kruger, Joseph Barrett, Hannah Hardenbergh, Katie Scruggs, and Clare Baker just to name a few.
During the 10 km mass start on Friday, SSCV had four out of the top five racers. Cal Deline placed first in the race followed by Cully Brown in third, Christian Shanley in fourth, and Ian Boucher in fifth. Hannah Hardenbergh had a great race in the ladies 5 km race placing fifth. Katie Scruggs followed directly behind Hardenbergh placing sixth. The J3 boys skied well in the 3 km classic mass start and had 3 racers in the top four spots with Nolan Herzog winning the competition by almost 30 seconds, Christian Wilson in third place, and Patrick Scruggs in fourth. SSCV also won the J4 boy’s category with Ian Harderbergh placing first and Andrew Rogers placing fifth. Katy Hardenbergh held it down for the J5 girls winning the 1 km classic race by just 3 seconds.
Saturday was another successful day for the team. “We had the individual start skate race today on the 2.5 k loop and our J1/OJ men went one through four,” said SSCV’s nordic coach Eric Pepper. With Cal Deline in first, Parker McDonald in second, Cully Brown in third, Christian Shanley in fourth, and Ian Boucher in eighth, it is easy to see that the team is fast. “To be second behind Cal today is huge for Parker,” said Pepper. “Parker has been training with Cal, Cully, and Christian, which has helped him get better and better.”
The freestyle individual start proved successful for J1 racer Hannah Hardenbergh, who placed fourth followed by Katie Scruggs in fifth. Cameron Moore did well for the J2 boys on Saturday and placed fourth. The J3 boys were just as fast on day two with Nolan Herzog winning again followed by Christian Wilson in second, and Patrick Scruggs in third. The SSCV J4 boys improved a bit in day two of the competition with Andrew Rogers in second, Zane Worrell in third, and Ian Hardenbergh in fourth.
The two-day event was a successful one for the SSCV nordic team. The last opportunity to gain the necessary points for the RMN Junior National Team will happen down south in Durango Colorado at the final JNQ race this coming weekend.