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The 2012 Far West Nordic Multi-Media Slideshow, featuring photos from Summer 2011 through Spring 2012 from Mark Nadell, Ben Grasseschi, Stacey Herhusky, and Laurel Fiddler. Includes photos of Far West Nordic Juniors, Farm Team, Training, Racing, and a special "Graduates" section for our matriculating 2012 Juniors. Courtesy of Mark Nadell.


Soldier Hollow 2012

Junior Nationals
Soldier Hollow 2012

Soldier Hollow Summary

Every athlete reaches a point in their career where things go downhill. My mom reached that point during her prime years of ski racing. Her biggest regret, she says, is quitting after that year. Of course she couldn’t stay away from the ski tracks for too long and she eventually returned to the national team. I have learned from her that when times are looking dark, you must persevere with all your might. Looking back, I can fully say that I tried my best in every race at JN’s this year.

The classic sprint brought me unfortunate wax, but I still kicked as hard as I could. During my most solid race, the skate 10k, I pushed hard out of the start and immediately started moving up in the pack. Once in the top thirty I kept trying to pass a group of about 10 girls to put me in the top twenty, each time I was passed back. Despite how bad I felt, I kept reaching for my goal. I wasn’t scared when it came to the classic race, I saw the pace of the fast girls and decidedly matched it up the hollow. Even though I ended up blowing up, I had to be brave and try the pace because I wasn’t about to say, “Well I’m having a bad week so I’ll so out slow.” I placed myself in third going up the hollow the day of the relay, knowing that if I felt good I could hang there. I had another unfortunate event that day in which my pole broke (good excuse for a new pair of poles).

I had an optimistic conversation with Rick Kapala at the closing ceremonies. I told him about my discouraging results and he replied, “In all the years you’re going to be competing this is just one bad week at an inconvenient time. We all know you’re fast.” This was exactly what I needed to hear.

Feeling the thrill of having a really solid race becomes infectious in an athlete. I know what it feels like to have mind and body click, unfortunately mind was there and body wasn’t at this JN’s. I will persevere though, as I hope all the athletes on this trip will too.

One other thing, Alex Kopytko and I were up to our usual tricks at this JN’s. This year, playing Just Dance evolved into two full on dance offs. Alex won the first one, which forced me to drink a liter of mountain dew. Fortunately, I won the second and Alex had to suffer through a V8. Even though I was lying on the couch like a beached whale afterwards, I downed the mountain dew in 15 minutes while Alex took an hour to drink his V8. I couldn’t be happier when I felt no side effects at the closing ceremonies, while Alex looked pale despite his ridiculously sunburned face. I encourage everyone to mention V8 in front of him, just to see his reaction.

My hope is that everyone learned something this year at JN’s. I definitely know Alex learned to stop making bets with me. I learned exactly what I have expressed here and what Rick told me. “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”- Emerson.

Looking Back

For the week following JN’s, I’ve been in Hawaii. I don’t think that I’m missing out on this rain/snow.
Hawaii is great. Its been sunny, warm, and lying on the beach make for perfect rest after a long week of racing. I’m in paradise, but I catch myself thinking about JN’s, and almost wishing I was back in Utah.
It was my first year on the Junior National team, and it was an incredible experience. I think that I was super lucky to have it be in a place that I had raced before, so it wasn’t to scary and brand new. I have to admit, that first day going into the stadium was nerve-wracking. There were so many people, and I remember thinking, ” What am I doing here?!?” It turned out fine though. The whole team was really supportive of everyone, and i think that that calmed my nerves a lot.
There have been a lot of funny stories to tell. I will never forget driving home from a girls trip to Park City and seeing Alex almost throwing up on the side of the road because he had to drink a V8. Laurel did very well with her bet and drank an entire Mountain Dew . The J2 boys sabotaged the PNSA van, and we had an ongoing rivalry all week.
It really was the coolest experience getting to ski with the top people in the country. i’m really excited for next year. Fairbanks here we come! FAR WEST FAR BEST!

West Yellowstone biathlon

After about 36 hours at home after Junior Nationals, I left again on an airplane, later in a truck, to West Yellowstone, Montana, for biathlon North american Championships with Glenn Jobe, Phill Violett, and Britt Cogan. I will admit, the weather here is pretty miserable. Since arriving a 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, I have seen the sun once. On Wednesday, we went out to the biathlon range, about 1.5 km from the parking lot. It was fairly windy and snowy, making shooting difficult. However, we got some good shooting in and regressed to the hotel. That night, we spent about an hour making adjustments to my rifle. I got a blinder from the Altius, the local biathlon shop, but we had to “modify” it slightly. Because my rifle is a right-handed converted to be left-handed, the blinder blocked part of the bolt from going back and forth. Glenn and Phill spent some considerable time cutting away rubber and aluminum from the blinder so that it would fit on my rear sight. We made it work, but at the race we realized that it was preventing the sight from moving down when I went to make a sight correction, so we had to take it off for the race. Yesterday (Thursday) was the sprint competition. For Britt and I, the race was 7.5 km, for Phill it was 10km. The weather was slightly more cooperative. The wind died down significantly, but the snow/rain was ever-present, making seeing difficult. I was slightly intimidated in the start. Because the youngest age class is 17-18, I had race in that class. The person who started in front of me was easily six inches taller than me and the guy behind me was the same. I hit one prone target and one standing target. I didn’t feel super awesome during the race, JNs really took it out of me. Today was another training day and a chance to redeem myself for my horrendous shooting. We started at 9:30 in the hotel room and practiced safe range procedure (taking off and putting the rifle on your back). It was very productive. Afterward, we headed out into the rain to go to the range. We caught a lucky break with the weather today. It had been pouring all morning, but it let up significantly as we headed out. I shot some pretty nice groups when we shot on the paper, and I improved significantly on both prone and standing. I decided not to do more racing this week as I just don’t feel like I’m up for it. Instead, I will be Glenn’s assistant on race days. West Yellowstone is a very cool place and my only wish is for some better weather.

One week later…………

I just woke up and I’m staring at my ceiling and remembering that at his time just 7 days ago I was racing in the biggest classic race of my life. I think only after the moment do you truly realize how big of an event that was. Or how exhilarating it was during that race, just all of the excitement, the fear, the nerves, rush as the starter said “Any time in five, four, three, two, one”, and the relief of crossing the finish line. I guess this is a funny how your opinion can change so fast, or it can stay the same, if you asked me right after the race “Would you do it again? ” I would of said “Yes, of course.”, and now if you asked me I would say ” In a heartbeat, bring it on.”.
When I first got to JN’s I thought okay I’m going to be so tired after this week, but after each day I felt like i was getting stronger, more experienced. I was running with the bigs boys. No, I wasn’t running with them, I was ONE of the bigs boys now. I never dreamed of getting to this point, Junior Nationals. Such an important name, but I don’t think you realize the meaning until you get there, race in it, and just being there. It’s not just the races that make it Junior Nationals, its the trip you take getting there.The JOQ’s, all the training, the hours spent preparing and packing.
I miss my team, with all of their definitely un-normal attitudes, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. All of my team mates are awesome! They are the coolest people I now. You don’t have to fell awkward around them, you can just be yourself. you see such a new side of people when you spend 9 days with them.
My coaches also open up a lot more also, they tell jokes, watch movies, and laugh with us and I bet you if a random person walked into one of our houses they would jut think were a big happy family. And in a way we ARE on big happy family, we ate together, we laugh together, pull pranks, and just have fun. The coaches would interact with us a lot more than other trips because they had a lot more down time. Playing pool with Ambrose and Ben was awesome!
Thank you to all of our coaches:
Ben, Nancy, Joel, Jeff, Martin, Ambrose, Glenn, Alana, Mary Ellen, and Kara!!!
Thank you also to our caters:
David and Lynda!!!

Nothing Normal About It

IMG_0198“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well” – Alfred Adler. It wouldn’t surprise me if Adler were a skier because my experience on the Far West team and with the athletes and coaches has shown me that everything about it is far from normal.
One night, three of us girls sat down to watch Bridesmaids. It was quite the comedy. I always enjoy watching movies with some of the younger athletes because it seems like they still haven’t realized that the TV can’t hear them when they talk to it. (Even more hysterical was during the Super JNQ when Danielle was standing on top of the couch ready to throw a few punches during one of the fight scenes in The Eagle.) Sitting in a room and watching TV with these kids makes everything seem so normal… but it’s ironically so far from it.
Someone who dedicates him or herself to qualifying for Junior Nationals already sacrifices hours upon hours into the sport itself, even imagining that they have lives outside of skiing could almost seem like too much to ask. And yet, EVERYONE does. A few of the athletes have some impressive musical talents, while some have some impressive dance skills, others have outstanding academics and some even have personalities that are so happy and infectious that its hard to keep from smiling when you’re around them. So, if this pretzel of a mind twister could get anymore confusing, lets just include the fact that being normal teenagers AND Junior National athletes only makes everything that much less normal.
The nice thing is that it’s hard to love someone or something that is normal. We love things because they have value. The things that we value are always unique, special and beyond normal. So of course, naturally I have to do the only normal thing in this whole situation; I end up loving the team that I am on because of the fact that it is so far from normal. FAR WEST FAR BEST!



blog“Far West Far Best, Beat PNSA!!!” It was Monday night when we first made this cheer. After our first day of racing, we finally had the opportunity to see who we were up against. Although many of our racers had great results, it was a real wake up call to the fact that we were racing the best racers from all over our country and even some guests from places like Canada and Australia. When I heard my teammates declare that they had a goal of getting sixth place and beating PNSA, I felt doubtful that we could pull it off, but I had great respect for my team’s ambition. This helped me get over the disappointment of my days results, and it helped me look to the future. I began thinking not of how far back I would have to start on Wednesday’s mass start freestyle, but rather, how many people I would be able to pass. I made it my goal to place in the 40’s, a goal that would require me to pass 10 people.
When the race came, I could not get this goal out of my head, and after the start, when the double pole tracks started and the trail narrowed, I became more aggressive than I ever had in a race. When someone tried to pass between a small gap between me and the racers next to me, rather than giving them room as I usually would, I widened my stance, taking the precious square foot of trail for myself. The entire first half of the race was a game of chicken, taking any gap possible, but avoiding getting tangled up between someone else’s poles. At one point, I decided to take the inside line of a turn from a racer from PNSA, but going into the turn, I realized he had no intention of letting me take the line. I looked at where my skis were pointed, and saw a 3 foot drop off the trail leading into a mess of bushes. Thinking quickly, I began to physically push the racer next to me to the outside of the turn, making just enough room for my skis to stay on the trail. I looked back to see the kids face so I would know who to avoid at the Ice Cream Social that night, but to my surprise, I had already gained too much ground on him to be able to see who he was! Thank you Ben for all the cornering drills you had us do throughout the season!
That night after achieving my goal with a 46th place finish, we went to the Ice-Cream Social. I made a point to meet as many people as possible, meeting people from places like Alaska, Maine, and Colorado. I began realizing one thing… these people train HARD! Finally, when the event came close to an end, I saw the PNSA team walking over to me. The first thing that crossed my mind was that I would have an unpleasant visit from the kid who I pushed out of my way. However, to my relief, they simply asked how my races went, and shared some encouraging words when I told them that, personally, my races hadn’t been going very well. At that point, I realized that racing isn’t about beating the person next to you. It is about being the best that you can be. Everyone is in it together, no matter what team they are from. Everyone pushes each other to their limits. I realized that I could turn my bad results to my own advantage. The winners of the race are no different from people like me, and if I commit to pushing myself as hard, or even harder that they do, I can become just as good of a skier as them.
On the final day at nationals, our team’s dream finally became a reality. At the closing ceremonies, the announcer said that we had secured our sixth place spot. Our team’s ambition had paid off, and we secured what Ben called “the second best finish in all the years that I’ve been coaching this team.” I now look to the future with more optimism than ever before. Next year, we can do even better, and if I train hard enough, I can help score some points for our team.

-Thank you to our coaches, waxers, cooks, parents, the far west board, and everyone who was involved with this trip, and the Far West Team. And finally, thank you for your donations. We just broke $2,000! Let’s keep it going!


Junior Nationals Look Back!!!!

P1030788This year’s Junior Nationals were pretty much AMAZING in all ways— from meeting new friends that are tons and tons of miles away to getting to race against your new found friends. The racing experience you get from racing some of those kids is awesome—just seeing how fast they are is really inspiring to keep on training harder and harder. You also get to see how much time it takes to make your skis extremely fast, The wax tech in our house arrived home after everyone was already asleep and was gone before we woke up,” THANK YOU COACHES.”

I have to also give a shout out to Lynda and Dave’s fantastic cooking— it was pretty much the greatest in the world. Along with eating great food there was a lot of training and racing as well as running amuck in Midway.



Well here I am sitting in math class missing the racing and the environment of Nationals, wishing the clock would just tick a bit faster so I could go skiing. awww the heart wrenching life of a high school student… Naw things are pretty good, we have been doing quite a bit of reminiscing about last week. After the final race a few of the teams hung out in the stadium playing football or Frisbee but the Alaskan team decided to take their team photos, this proved to be a bit of a bad idea for the continental US attacked!!!! We had the higher ground and they were huddled together for their photos, sitting ducks. A few of the different teams got organized and began to rain an endless hail of snow upon the Alaskans. They returned fire and the great Snowball Fight of JOs past had officially quelled up once more. The first fight ended (for picture purposes) and then Alaska flanked we held them off but we were unorganized and there were no more sides! I took one to the face and delivered another, the kid’s sunglasses flew off, as another picked them up for him he too was hit, it was messy. We quickly reassembled as the Football game came crashing into the middle of the firefight and broke us apart once more, around here Alaska must have gone home, yet the smell of war still lingered. We began to attack the Mid-A team, due to a random war cry from a member of what I assume was our team, but soon the rest of PNSA marched in for battle and we were fighting once again on two fronts. The unorganized PNSAers were firing upon their own. Soon this battle too died off, all teams came together for the final end all be all of Snowball Fight 2012. It was whomever was around VS. the football players. This was a brutal fight. We fired the first shots but the Football team was quick to react and the fight soon escalated to an all out war. The football team charged, the Junior Alliance (the non-footballers) began to retreat, I urged them to hold their ground yet me and only a few others did, we were pinned down and soon we too retreated. We rallied the troops one more time and went for an all out Blitz. Just as the battle ensued Katrin has a brilliant idea, now was the time for a counter attack on PNSA’s flag. We quietly snuck off as Alec provided a bit more distraction. Katrin quickly climbed PNSA’s wax room roof and began removing the flag from its pole. She got it undone and threw it to me, as I took off running towards the parking lot. PNSA was quickly on my tail Peter Holmes did what he could to hold them off but soon they broke off after me. The first one after me had been a casualty of the last war his nos was bleeding and it added to my fear of being caught. I had no where to go I was running circles around them and they soon caught me I held on my teammates came to assist but PNSA had more man power. After ten minutes of tug-a-war I declared it A Draw. We all shook hands laughed and walked away swearing that next year one team must stand out alone as the winner.

9 Days Goes By As Fast As A Classic Sprint

Boom! Your at the start.

Packing up the week before the trip was like, well, packing for Junior Nationals. Double checking everything, making sure its all packed. Your in the starting gate. Getting into the cars and starting the 9 and a half hour drive to Soldier Hollow, Utah. The clock starts beeping. Going the the Opening Ceremonies watching the torch being lit.

10 second until you start………five, four, three, two, one, GO!

Arriving to the houses unpacking then all dispersing to your separate homes for the next 9 days.

Your flying down the track as fast as your skis will allow.

Waking up the next day training and previewing the course. Eating dinner as one big family, laughing and enjoying the night.

You reach the bottom of the first hill as power up through it over the top.

Waking up you start putting together all your gear and putting your race suit on. It’s finally beginning.

You reach the top of the hill and pour on the speed.

You arrive at the main house, grab some breakfast, and then go the the race course.

You hit the downhill and get as low as you can in your tuck.

Your warming up on the course, getting your race skis, lining up in the start.

Your on the second uphill now.

You race your hardest all the way through. You finish you look up at the board and see your result.

Your almost the the top of the second hill you power over the top of the hill!

You go back to the house and relax, then next day you train, then the next day you race, then go to the mid-week ceremonies, then the next day you train, then the next you race, then race again the day after that.

You hit the down hill and drop into a tuck agin, as low as you can, keep up the speed throughout the flat.

Your at the closing ceremonies, the announcer is saying the names of all the medalists.

You speed across the flats still in your tuck and come the the uphill into the stadium.

The ceremony ands and the banquet starts, people start to mingle and talk about the past week.

You charge into the stadium and into the finish lane. You start to double pole as hard and as fast as you can. Your dying for breath but thats okay, it feels great. Makes you feel more alive than ever. You throw your foot for the line and trip the laser. your done. You did great, your team is all there congratulating you, fives and hugs.

Then after the food is the dance. A time to have fun. Let go of the week and just party. That was harder then some of the races. Its wild! And fun! Then the long ride home the next day.

The race are over, the season however……is not. This has been a great year for Far West so far. We accomplished our goals and beat PNSA. This was my first year racing with Far West and will definitely not be my last. Thank you to all of the coaches and helpers we had on this trip, it was amazing!

And always FAR WEST, FAR BEST!!!