Hundreds of cross-country skiers from the western U.S. gathered at Soldier Hollow, Utah last weekend for the first of three Junior National qualifying races at the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic races.
It was a great opportunity for the 38 Sun Valley Junior Nordic ski team racers to check their progress against a huge field of 462 finishers (classic) and 443 finishers (sprints).
They'll also compete Feb. 2-3 at Bozeman, Mt. and Feb. 16-17 at McCall in order to earn berths for the 2008 Chevrolet Cross Country Junior Olympics at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska March 10-14.
Sun Valley and Intermountain Division skiers competed against juniors from Rocky Mountain, PNSA and Far West, meaning there were racers from Idaho, Wyoming, Utah Montana, Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
Because of the competition, anyone posting a top-10 result was encouraged by the effort. Sun Valley placed five skiers in the top 10 of Saturday's 15-kilometer classic wave start men's race and in the 10k women's classic wave start.
Older Juniors (ages 18-19) Reid Pletcher, 19, earned the men's silver medal and Taylor Sundali, 18, was sixth in the 98-finisher men's race. Mali Noyes, 18, finished second in the OJ/J1 (ages 16-19) women's race while Bronwen Raff was seventh and Julia Bowman eighth of 72 finishers.
Friday's highlights included a first-place finish for Noyes in the 1.3-kilometer freestyle sprint finals. She won by nearly four seconds in the Final A heat of the women's Older Junior/J1 class.
Besides the gold medal effort of Noyes in Friday's free sprint, Sun Valley had other outstanding results.
In OJ/J1 women, Courtney Hamilton made the B Finals and finished 10th overall. Quarterfinalists besides Noyes and Hamilton were Rosie Gilchrist, Makayla Cappel, Julia Bowman and Marissa Dreyer.
Sun Valley's Taylor Sundali placed a very close second behind Miles Havlick of Boulder Nordic JRT in the A Finals of OJ/J1 men. Max Durtschi was second in the B Finals for eighth place overall. Other quarterfinalists were Scott Krankkala and Scotty Phelan for Sun Valley.
In J2 boys, Daniel Sundali was fifth overall in the A Final while Chase Caulkins and William Spiller also made the quarterfinals. The J2 girls' quarterfinalists included Claire Bowman and Emily Williams.
Here are top placers and classic results from last weekend's Soldier Hollow races:
Men's 15k classic wave start, Jan. 19: 1—Tad Elliott (Durango) 42:19. 2—Reid Pletcher (2-OJ) 42:38. 6—Taylor Sundali (5-OJ) 45:00. 15—Max Durtschi (6-J1) 46:16. 17—Scott Krankkala (10-OJ) 46:32. 20—Scotty Phelan (8-J1) 47:09. 25—Sam Farnham (13-J1) 47:48. 31—Travis Job (18-J1) 49:03—98 finishers.
Women's 10k classic wave start, Jan. 19: 1—Kate Dolan (Bridger Ski Foundation) 34:18. 2—Mali Noyes (1-OJ) 34:49. 7—Bronwen Raff (3-J1) 36:12. 8—Julia Bowman (4-J1) 36:14. 15—Rosie Gilchrist (11-J1) 36:55. 20—Courtney Hamilton (14-J1) 37:50. 24—Marissa Dreyer (17-J1) 38:06. 25—Makayla Cappel (18-J1) 38:22. 51—Keller Gibson (43-J1) 42:48.
J2 girls (ages 14-15) 5k classic wave start, Jan. 19: 16—Emily Williams 20:44. 19—Claire Bowman 21:06.
J2 boys 5k classic wave start, Jan. 19: 2—Daniel Sundali 15:57. 14—William Spiller 17:05. 18—Chase Caulkins 17:16. 27—Andrew Pfeiffer 17:57. 43—Jake Anderson 19:02.
J3 girls (12-13) 3k classic wave start, Jan. 19: 5—Maggie Williams 13:12. 8—Maranda Stopol 13:22. 16—Kaitlyn Landis 14:32. 19—Mateja Heinrich 15:18. 20—Haley Cooper 15:39.
J3 boys 3k classic wave start, Jan. 19: 14—Jackson Long 12:52. 17—Zachary Lindahl 13:44. 22—Stephen Pfeiffer 13:56. 32—Ty Reinemann 14:48. 33—Timo Gould 14:57. 36—Jake Adicoff 15:20. 39—Ketchum Wilt 16:18.
J4 boys (10-11) 2k classic wave start, Jan. 19: 8—Tyler Spence 8:43. 10—Eron Bates 8:55.