Roughly 650 nordic racers showed up for the important qualifier event. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Nordic coach Eric Pepper prepped his athletes that he brought to the Soldier Hollow Junior National Qualifier by waxing skis, and giving pep talks. It must have been a combination of the perfectly tuned skis, the low elevation, and the impeccable course conditions that propelled the entire team to outstanding finishes. The team went out to Utah last week and raced into the weekend in a dozen different events.
These nordic athletes are looking to establish enough points in the next month in order to qualify for the Rocky Mountain Junior National team. For the team, they take the 12 best OJ’s as well as the12 best J1’s, and J2’s in the region. There are four races, this being the first, where these juniors will earn the necessary points to qualify them for the team. The OJ level athletes are those that are 18 and 19, and the J1’s are 16 and 17. Since there was a multitude of other athletes from the Rocky Mountain Division at the competition, they had to prove themselves among those athletes in particular.
“They were racing really well, the whole west coast was out there. There were teams from Idaho, California, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Wyoming among others. This is by far the biggest contingent of athletes we’ve ever brought from Vail and we had great results from both older and younger kids. It’s great to compete at such a big, well-run and well-attended, event and also really cool to get to ski at the 2002 Olympic venue,” says Pepper.
Ian Boucher a student at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, who also raced exceptionally well at the last Junior National Qualifier here in Vail just two weeks ago, outperformed other racers in the J1/OJ men’s skate sprint competition. In fact, the SSCV team had 4 athletes in the top ten of the sprint. Boucher qualified in first for the competition out of a field of 115 racers. Cal Deline, also from SSCV, had qualified third for the sprint. During the finals Boucher raced well and landed in second place. Following Boucher there was Deline in third, Christian Shanley in fifth, and Max Scrimgeour in seventh. Scrimgeour had a stand out performance across the board and raced well all weekend. On the women’s side of the J1/J0 sprint skate, Hannah Hardenbergh placed fourth out of a field of 91 racers. Hardenbergh attends Vail Mountain School and races for them as well. The Hardenbergh family had quite the performance in Utah with wins and podium results in many different races.
On Saturday, during the J1/OJ male 15km, the four men did it again with Scrimgeour placing second, Shanley placing third, Deline placing sixth and Boucher placing eighth. This time the field was composed of 115 other racers.
The younger SSCV racers also performed well amongst an experienced race field. In the J3 boys 3 km individual skate Christian Wilson placed fourth on Friday and second on Saturday. Following Wilson was teammate Patrick Scruggs who placed fifth on Friday and eighth on Saturday. Nolan Herzog improved on his time going from 22nd place on Friday in the 3 km to seventh on Saturday. In the J3 female 3 km individual skate Maddie Donavan placed third followed by Gracie Shanley in 11th. On Saturday Donavan placed fourth in the 3 km race and Shanley placed 12th. Ian Hardenbergh raced well in the J4 3 km and 2 km individual skate races winning the events on both Friday and Saturday. Bridget Donovan placed third for the J4 girl’s 3 km individual skate and fourth in the 2 km race. In the J5 class Katy Hardenbergh placed third in the 1 km race on Friday and fourth on Saturday. Conner Wilson placed first for the J6 male on both Friday and Saturday in the 1 km races.
Based on their stellar performance in Utah, these up and coming nordic stars will have the chance to land on the coveted Rocky Mountain Division Junior National Team. Keep an eye out for these athletes training in and around Vail.