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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of December 24 - 30, 2002


Nordic team brings skiing to the people

Over 100 kids out, 
with addition of Quigley

Express Staff Writer

The "field of dreams" for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Junior Nordic ski team is a snow-covered system of cross-country ski trails out Quigley Canyon east of Hailey.

It went into operation for the first time Monday, Dec. 23.

The 10-kilometer groomed trail system developed with the cooperation of the Blaine County Recreation District is giving Sun Valley Junior Nordic team head coach Rick Kapala an extra assignment.

The longer, the better is the race mantra of Sun Valley OJ Eva Bach, who painted her face for Saturday’s Christmas Classic race at Lake Creek. Express photo by Willy Cook

He’s got two ski areas to think about now—the team’s base camp and trail system at the Lake Creek trail system three miles north of Ketchum, and the new Quigley trails developed for south-county kids.

Kapala is happy to have the extra work because, like many coaches or advisors to youth activities, he likes to see more kids getting involved.

"We’re bringing the skiing to the people," said Kapala, the three-time U.S. Ski Association "Coach of the Year," who is entering his 16th year guiding the SVSEF Nordic program.

The people have responded.

Alexa Turzian, a strong skater, leads the resurgence of Sun Valley’s J2 girls. Express photo by Willy Cook

Kapala and his staff of 11 knowledgable cross-country ski coaches have welcomed over 100 kids to the 2002-03 Sun Valley Junior Nordic ski program, in its 31st year under the auspices of the SVSEF.

The top-level Competition Team headed by Kapala and Ali Deines has 36 kids, "the most we’ve ever had," Kapala said. The Prep Team headed by Jen Douglas has 28. The Development Team guided by former SVSEF skier Martha Pendl has grown to 60-plus kids, 20 at Quigley alone.

"We have close to 70 kids in the elementary-age group," Kapala said.

Part of the strategy behind the outreach into Quigley Canyon came from the Idaho International Grand Prix that brought skiers bound for the 2002 Winter Olympics into full view of locals last January at Sun Valley Gun Club.

Mike Sinnott, reigning national champion in the J1 15-kilometer classic event, returns to lead the Sun Valley Junior Nordic ski team in 2002-03. He is a senior at Wood River High School in Hailey. Express photo by Willy Cook

"We brought about 700 local kids out to watch the Olympians," said Kapala. "By doing so, we got a lot of recognition for the sport through a broad segment of the community.

"Much of the increase in our Devo Team has to do with heightened attention to cross-country skiing and with us doing a lot of outreach. There’s also word of mouth among the parents. Having the new building at Lake Creek helps because it creates more of a team atmosphere there."

Early snowfall fired up the energy level and enthusiasm of this year’s Sun Valley team.

"Starting Nov. 10, we’ve been on snow longer than in any of my previous 15 years with the program," said Kapala. "That’s close to six weeks on snow by Christmas.

"Because we’ve done a lot of work in the off-season, it doesn’t take a lot of snow to make Lake Creek work. We have some of the best, well-prepared trail bases in the West allowing us to get the most out of our snow cover."


Strong at the top

With the strength of his returning boys’ team, Kapala said, laughing, that "my job is not to screw it up."

Sun Valley’s J1 (ages 16-17) and J2 (14-15) boys compiled the best results and won the national Nordic high school championship last March during the 2002 USSA Junior Nationals in McCall, Idaho.

Mike Sinnott’s victory in the J1 15-kilometer classic race gave Kapala his 10th individual national champion in 15 years of Sun Valley coaching.

Robert Slough was an All-American along with fellow J1s Mike Sinnott and Matt DeCarufel at last March’s Junior Nationals in McCall. Express photo by Willy Cook

Second-year J1s Sinnott and Robert Slough and Older Junior Matt DeCarufel are all returning for Sun Valley. And they’re training very hard.

Kapala said, "In cross-country skiing you have to be able to quantify if you are training better. Mike, Robert and Matt are all training better, with stronger workouts.

"It will be tough for Matt to make the jump to OJs. His main race is 30k classic. Mike is strong in both techniques and distance events. And Robert has an opportunity to develop into a strong sprinter."

Joining them is a promising group of first-year J1s: Luke Pletcher, Jack Harris, David Vanderpool, George Livingston, Chase Cleveland, Dawson Paschall, Brad Bradford, Brennan Rego and Alex Hamlin.

Alpine crossover Hannes Thum is a second-year J1 with a decent shot at Junior Nationals, according to Kapala.

The coach said, "I really feel good about these guys as a group. We have a solid group at the top, and another solid group behind them. Regardless of how we do, the standard is really high from training."

Leading Sun Valley’s Comp Team girls are Older Junior Eva Bach along with second-year J1s Alissa Praggastis and Erin Magee. First-year J1s Erin McQueen and Lexie Praggastis have also raised their standard of training.

"The girls are all training hard. They are a solid, solid group," said Kapala. "I think Eva, Alissa and Erin Magee can all go top 10 and get medals at Junior Nationals."

Newcomers to the program like Morgan Arritola and Kim Brown have already made a ton of progress, helped by six weeks of on-snow training. "Morgan and Kim both have real engines," said Kapala.

Strong in skating, Alexa Turzian leads a Sun Valley resurgence in J2 girls. She is joined by skiers like Courtney Perry, Hayley Stommel and Devyn Parnes. And J3 Tara Cappel will ski up in J2.

"That’s a nucleus of a strong girls’ team in a few years," said Kapala.

Sun Valley’s J2 boys’ team isn’t too deep, but the group features skiers like Reid Pletcher, Artie Livingston and Delamon Rego who are physically ready to make Junior Nationals, according to Kapala.

Right behind are J2s like Max Danielson, Robbie Hamlin and Chris Holmquist.

This year’s training schedule has been demanding. It started on-snow at Bend, Ore. in June, then dry land in Canada in August and back on-snow on a glacier at Canmore, Alberta, Canada in September.

Sun Valley had an excellent camp at West Yellowstone, Mt. in November then came back to train in the valley.

Kapala is looking forward to the 2003 U.S. Nationals and Scandinavian Cup team trails at Rumford, Maine Jan. 2, then a long trip to Fairbanks, Alaska for Junior Nationals the first week of March.

In between are three Junior National qualifying races—the first in Sun Valley Jan. 25, the second at West Yellowstone Feb. 6 and the third and final qualifier in Boise Feb. 21.

Kapala said, "It’s a favorable travel schedule. We’ll go to Maine with a smaller group, then come home and have the first JN qualifier here, then only have to go to West Yellowstone and Boise. And Junior Nationals on the redone trails in Fairbanks could be one of the best-run JNs ever."


Nordic Ski Team Roster


Program director and head coach—Rick Kapala (16th year).

Competition team coaches—Ali Deines (3rd year), Tessa Benoit (2nd year) and Pat Casey (1st year).

J3/J4 prep team coaches—Head coach Jen Douglas with Muffy Ritz (13th year).

Development team coaches—Head coach Martha Pendl.

Assistant coaches—Dave Wheelock (19th year), Laurie Leman (12th year), Pat Stearns, Miles Teitge and Jeremy Fryberger.

Competition team racers
Morgan Arritola, Eva Bach, Brad Bradford, Kimberly Brown, Tara Cappel, Chase Cleveland, Max Danielson, Matt DeCarufel, Margii Driscoll, Alex Hamlin, Robbie Hamlin, Jackson Harris, Christopher Holmquist, Martin Isaksson, Artie Livingston, George Livingston, Erin Magee, Erin McQueen, Mollie Parker, Devyn Parnes, Dawson Paschall, Courtney Perry, Lucas Pletcher, Reid Pletcher, Alissa Praggastis, Lexie Praggastis, Brennan Rego, Delamon Rego, William Rumley, Mike Sinnott, Robert Slough, Hayley Stommel, Kira Tenney, Hannes Thum, Alexa Turzian and David Vanderpool. (Tuition $2,200, ages 14-and-over, year-round training, on-snow 5-6 days a week).


J3/J4 prep team racers
Lucas Anderson, Connor Brown, Nellie Brown, Amy Buchanan, Makayla Cappel, Tara Cappel, Tess Dahlgren, Andrew Daigh, Sean Dumke, Christopher Falcone, Sam Farnham, Keller Gibson, Travis Job, Samantha Johnson, Lindsey Mason, Michael Matteson, Mali Noyes, Scotty Phelan, Bronwen Raff, Preston Rumley, Diki Sherpa, Nima Sherpa, Nick Smith, Colby Stoecklein, Latner Straley, Jennifer Tormey and Chelsea Vanderpool. (Tuition $840, ages 10-13, on-snow 3 days a week).


Development team members
Jake Adicoff, Tate Boley, Cassidy Carson, Cole Caulkins, Harlan Collins, Alyssa Corrao-Bal, Emma Jane Dilley, Airik Donohoe, Liam Donohoe, Katie Dumke, Maxwell Durtschi, India Emerick, Katie Feldman, Georgie Goodwin, Charlie Grabow, Cooper Hanley, Syringa Hansen, Mateja Heinrich, Erin Hennessy, Emma Johnson, Ben Kanellitsas, Tim Kanellitsas, Anna Kranwinkle, Tommy Kranwinkle, Zach Lindahl, Kara McNamara, Madigan Miller, Josh Morrell, Alisha Nelson, Ty Reinemann, Eric Runkle, Emily Seiller, Leah Smith, Emily Sonneland, Aurora Stone, Sloan Storey, Averell Tian, Zoe Valvo, Nicol Wheeler, Emma Wilander, Karl Wilander, Emily Williams, Ketchum Wilt, Sara Youmans, Calder Zarkos, Gardner Cord, Andrew Graves, Connor Hesselbacher, Shyla Jones, Kaitlin Landis, Brooke Lawrence, Ashton Lupton, Joey Stellers, Tate Reed McDorman and Maranda Stopol.

(Tuition $375 for 3 days a week, on-snow from December through February, training Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after school)


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