Full CIrcle

2194_60777605738_505285738_2075384_7285_nI imagine it is a little to late to blog now, but here goes nothing…

I am just nineteen. Too old now for the junior circuit, and too young to be what I seem to have become- heading into my senior year in college. It all comes full circle in the end- it worries me a little to be a senior in ski racing as I, like all skiers, spent the first 19 years of my life as a junior.

My dearest Katrin, thank you for the note you gave me. “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with skiing and never looked back…keep skiing for her.” She wrote it in gel pen on a little scrap of paper and it is somehow more beautiful than any calligraphy in the world. Coming from the most disappointing finish of my career (had to happen sometime) into the world of Far West was like coming back home, where they love you for who you are. And you are right, my up and coming rockstar, and I will keep skiing for her, because once I was 4 and a half feet tall and wondered that anyone real was fast enough to with a junior national title.

I’ve roomed with Annika every JOs, and even the year she was too young to come she was still there- she is as eternal in my memories of skiing as Jeff and Glenn are- as the Sierra spruce’s, their legacy stretches far before mine and surely will continue long after. I am so old, in fact, that I recall the day when Ben came for his first day of coaching. You are all in my memories, you are to me what defines skiing- the years in which it is not all grueling training but love for the sport and each other and the eternal California sun.

I thought every year that it would be my last year of skiing. Every junior nationals, every year at college even. But something drew me back every time. I hope that you all find that beauty and joy, whether you choose Matt Gelso’s path and continue on into a life of only skiing (at least for now) or go off to a college in Southern California and love the sport from afar (Justin Ondry). Learn from them, you can be an enthusiast no matter what you choose. Unless you are Jessie Diggins (power to my friend across the sea, keep rocking!) I don’t recommend that you dive into the sport with reckless abandon at the expense of everything else. Learn to fight for what you want, like her. There is a reason there are 90 year old masters skiers still cruising around the trails. And of all the things I miss, being away in Boulder on the college circuit, it is those dedicated masters I miss most of all. Learn to love what you do from them. Have the courage of Adele Espy, to make the World Junior team and be within one race of a spot on the US Ski Team, and then acquire a chronic disease–but still love and support your friends in the same sport that ripped your dreams from you.

It is not magic or genes or inborn talent that pushes you to the top of the podium, it is hard work, pure and simple. I’ve lived with, laughed with, danced with Eliska Hajkova and Jessie Diggins, both world cup skiers of the finest caliber, and they are as real and as wonderful as you could imagine, and impossibly hard workers. Be brave, be strong, ski fast, ski free. Love your coaches, your teammates, your life, and rise up and live it.

Thank you Far West for the years you have given me. I am proud to have borne your team name from a 50th place at JOs to the top of the Junior National podium to the top of the college podium, and all the way inbetween. Wherever I am, however I ski or do not ski, I am a Cali girl until the end, and I will always be rooting for each and every one of you.

This one is for you ,Ben, I’m off to try to put some tele-turns in the corn, but mostly likely I’ll end up face first in the snow. The day you walked into the ASC locker room is not a day I’ll ever forget- I’ve never met a more free spirit than you.

Dream big, my Far West family, and I’ll see you on the trails.

JN 3×3 Freestyle Relays

JN relaysThe final races of the 2012 Junior Nationals were the 3×3 freestyle relays.

Far West Nordic results:
J2 boys: Dylan Syben, Sam Zabell, Peter Holmes 5th; Peter Carroll, Julien Bordes, Eli Yale 16th
J2 girls: Skyler Flora, Gabrielle Rinne, Amanda Kirkeby 12th; Danielle Nivinski, Camille Hartley, Savannah Blide 17th
J1 boys: Shane Christian, Branden Deeter, Alex Kopytko 21st; Joe Piercy, Brandon Herhusky, Evan Vomund 25th
OJ boys: Patrick McElravey, Jordan McElroy, Austin Meng 9th
J1 girls: Laurel Fiddler, Raylene Chew, Cassidy Cichowicz 17th
OJ girls: Katrin Larusson, Annika Taylor, Joanne Reid 5th

Relay Results
Alaska Cup Points

Congratulations to the entire Far West Nordic Junior National Team for a fantastic week!

Last Day

So the shaving cream adventure didn’t go super well yesterday. The idea was to put shaving cream all over the door handles and write more stuff on the van with it too. I had just done the main door when three or four of the really big PNSA kids came tearing around the front of the van. I haven’t run as fast as I did in a long time. I got away, but one of them ran straight into Glenn’s parked truck. I heard the clunk but I wasn’t willing to turn around and look.

Today, the team relay went very well. I was on a team with Dylan as the starter, me second, and Peter H. as the anchor. The transition was pretty hectic. Dylan was coming in to tag me, but he was in a big group. Also, there was this one New England kid who kept trying to get between me and Dylan. I finally got around him, but I didn’t see Dylan till he was ten feet away from me. I started double-poling, but after on e pole plant someone cut me off at a 90 degree angle. All I saw was his ski tips and I just ran them over. Dylan finally managed to tag me and I went out. Because of the whole mess in the transition, I got out in 2nd place. However, I was quickly caught. I lost a few places, but not very much time. Peter was able to make up the distance for a 5th place finish. As it turns out, August and Ben had a bet on which relay team got a higher place’ August was betting on myself, Dylan, and Peter while Ben was betting on Katrin, Annika, and Joanne. The prize for this bet was a case of beer. Both of our teams got 5th today, so I’m not sure what happens now.

Junior Nationals have been really good for all of us this year and I am very pleased with my performances. Huge thanks to…

Jeff Ben Joel Ambrose Martin Glenn Alana Kara Mary Ellen Nancy All race staff and volunteers

JN Classic Interval Start

Peter HolmesIt was another bluebird day at Soldier Hollow. Today’s highlights were another 3rd place by Peter Holmes in the J2 boys 5k classic and a 6th place finish in the 10k OJ boys by Austin Meng.

Far West results:
5k OJ girls: Annika Taylor 13th, Melanie Swick 38th
5k J1 girls: Katrin Larusson 34th, Joelle Romo 50th, Laurel Fiddler 54th, Raylene Chew 62nd, Cassidy Cichowicz 81st
5k J2 girls: Amanda Kirkeby 35th, Skyler Flora 39th, Gabrielle Rinne 45th, Bria Riggs 50th, Danielle Nivinski 55th, Savannah Blide 57th, Camille Hartley 62nd
10k OJ boys: Austin Meng 6th
10k J1 boys: Patrick McElravey 23rd, Jordan McElroy 46th, Shane Christian 61st, Alex Kopytko 73rd, Branden Deeter 82nd, Joe Piercy 83rd
5k J2 boys: Peter Holmes 3rd, Dylan Syben 20th, Sam Zabell 33rd, Peter Carroll 36th, Julien Bordes 38th, Eli Yale 44th, Evan Vomund 53rd, Brandon Herhusky 54th

Classic Results

Alaska Cup Points after 3 races

Tomorrow, the final day of competition at the 2012 Junior Nationals, is the Freestyle Relay Competition.

And the Fun Continues…

We have two races under our belts and two more to come. We have had a lot of great results these past two races and are looking forward to having many more in the upcoming races. The other night the athletes were left alone to come up with a team goal concerning Alaska Cup Points. We presented to the coaches our goal of getting top six and, most importantly, beating PNSA.

For as long as I can remember Far West and PNSA have been rivals. Every JN’s brings a variety of pranks and, more importantly, attempting to steal the other team’s flag. This year was no different from any other. Several years ago, we stole PNSA’s flag, kept it for a year, brought it back to JN’s in Presque Isle, and watched it get broken in half in a full on tug a war between the two teams. I guess PNSA thought it was time for some pay back.

Last year was surprisingly pretty quiet for PNSA and Far West. Neither flag was shown much and there were no pranks. This year is turning out to be a whole different story. Yesterday, without notice, Sam put our flag in the back of the trailer which was conveniently parked right in front of a loaded van of PNSA skiers. Needless to say they were pretty smug when they drove away with our flag waving out their window. It wasn’t until perhaps halfway home, that PNSA noticed that a Far West van was following them.

Our detour took us all the way across the valley to PNSA’s giant house where we parked in their driveway and asked if they’d be serving lunch anytime soon. Lucky for us, we had an awards ceremony that night and plenty more window markers. During the ice cream social, we had some of our J2 boys mark up a PNSA van with “Far West Far Best” everywhere. The PNSA kids were pretty fed up with this, so they continued on to take Dylan hostage in their van. He eventually made his way home and got his jacket back today.

We had just finished cleaning our kick wax off this morning when PNSA came marching into the stadium. Far West and PNSA flags both flapping in the breeze, Patrick took this fine opportunity and charged. Far West stood astounded as we watched Patrick sprint through the stadium and towards the parking lot after PNSA. When we finally caught up, Patrick was covered in mud triumphantly holding our ripped Far West flag. We drove away smiling and laughing past the PNSA van, still covered in Far West’s lovely work from the night before. We’re pretty confident that we’re beating PNSA in Alaska Cup Points right now and our next objective is getting PNSA’s flag, and keeping it.

First NCAA title!

The highlight of the day is a tie between Adam Zika, CU freshman, taking the NCAA Giant Slalom champion title and the three Buff alpine girls ALL placing in the top 10. First CU individual title of the week!! Hopefully not the last.

On the strength of their finish, CU moved into second after the girls alpine. For those of you who don’t follow college skiing, alpine and nordic are scored together, so our races are equally as important.

In an interview yesterday, the reporter asked if it was tough to carry all the load from our alpine team because the nordic team was stronger.
Me: Our nordic team is stronger?
Reporter: Yeah, so is it tough to carry all the pressure?
Me: I don’t think we are better…? Maybe more consistent.
Reporter: You are stronger scorers- has it ever bothered you?
Me: *blank stare* Um…. obviously not.

So, with girls alpine saving the day, we head into classic mass start day at the same time Junior Nationals does – WOOHOO!

PNSA retaliation

After I posted my last entry yesterday, Dylan walked in with an interesting story. He had been spending the day with his parents so he stayed at the social a little longer than the rest of us. He said that he was surrounded by PNSAs and taken hostage into one of their vans. There, he was told that they were going to piss in our van and they also took Dylan’s Far West jacket. This morning after training at the venue we mounted a retaliation. We went and found the PNSA van that we had vandalized last night. we were hoping that it would be unlocked and if it was, we were going to mace the interior with a spray can of Old Spice. Unfortunately, the van was locked. However, upon returning to our wax table, we found a group of PNSAs taunting our guys from a distance with the PNSA flag. Patrick and I pursued them, ending in a small skirmish. We eventually called a truce and got our own flag back, but it was completely soiled and had some male genitalia drawn on it. Another strike op has been organized, involving a freshly acquired can of shaving cream and their van at the venue tomorrow.

Skate mass start and flag-napping

Today was the skate mass start race. J2 boys got to go first and we got the best trails. There were a lot of crashes and broken equipment. I counted around five segments of broken poles on the course. Some of them were within the first kilometer, but one was about two feet from the finish line. I had a pretty good start. I was cut off by other racers a few times before I asserted my place more and began to be more aggressive. I made up a few places and caught some PNSA kids. Last night, we as a team made it our goal to be in the top six for Alaska Cup points as well as beat PNSA. Towards the top of the last huge climb, almost straight up the side of the valley and about 1/2 kilometer from the finish, I was dying. However, I had a PNSA skier right in front of me and Mary Ellen to yell at me. I managed to catch him and hold him off for the finish. Far West as a team had an excellent day and we made up significant ground in the Alaska Cup standings. I had a good race and had a lot of fun. After my race, I spent the rest of the time at the venue waving around my Far West flag, fashioned out of Alex’s torn wife-beater and a mop handle. which brings me to the second part of this post…

So as I mentioned, I spent a few hours waving a Far West Far Best flag; At one point, I came across the PNSA kids with their own flag. We critiqued each others banners. Later, as we were packing up to go home, I put the flag in the U-haul. Unfortunately, the PNSA kids ( no one told me that there was a flag-stealing war between us and them) were behind us and STOLE OUR FLAG. We chased them in our van all the way across Heber Valley to their house. They wouldn’t give the flag back, so we went home. As of now, operation Paint the Target is a go.


Operation Paint The Target was a huge success. At the midweek awards/ ice cream social, Peter C. and I sneaked out during the ice cream part of the gathering armed with glass-chalk for drawing on cars (washable). We found the PNSA van that stole our flag and completely covered it with “Far West”, “Far Best”, and a “We worship the mighty Far West”. Afterward, we went back to the party and talked to PNSA kids like nothing happened. Before leaving, all of our vehicles did a drive-by. All of the PNSAs were standing around outside their van looking at us. I am curious as to what their retaliation will be.

JN Freestyle Mass Start

The course was slick for today’s freestyle mass start competition. First to ski were the J2 boys and Peter Holmes took 3rd.

Far West Results
5k J2 boys: Peter Holmes 3rd, Dylan Syben 31st, Sam Zabell 35th, Julien Bordes 44th, Evan Vomund 46th, Eli Yale 48th, Peter Carroll 57th, Brandon Herhusky 59th
5k J2 girls: Skyler Flora 35th, Garielle Rinne 37th, Amanda Kirkeby 50th, Danielle Nivinski 53rd, Camille Hartley 54th, Savannah Blide 56th
10k J1 boys: Patrick McElravey 9th, Shane Christian 47th, Alex Kopytko 74th, Branden Deeter 80th, Joe Piercy 83rd
10k FJ1: Katrin Larusson 11th (10th USA), Laurel Fiddler 26th, Cassidy Cichowicz 47th, Raylene Chew 64th, Joelle Romo 74th
15k OJ boys: Austin Meng 9th (8th USA)
10k OJ girls: Annika Taylor 14th, Melanie Swick 30th

Freestyle Results

The Far West Nordic JN athletes have stated as their team goal placing in the top six and beating PNSA in Alaska Cup Points. They are ranked 6 after the first 2 races and comfortably ahead of PNSA.
Alaska Cup Points
after 2 races.

some Buff love out there

Rough day for my buffaloes out here in Montana on skate day. It is crystal blue skis and sunny at about twenty degrees, but somehow we didn’t post the results we were hoping for. Rune (our top Norwegian guy) and I led our stampede in fifth and sixth respectively, but when the scores were totaled at the end of the day, CU was sitting in fifth. Not the greatest for the team looking to defend our title, but we did our best. However, we are primarily (except for me, a pure skater) classic skiers.

We are donning our boots (these $10,000 monstrosities that are supposed to take the lactic acid out of our legs by doing a bunch of weird things with air pressure) in preparation to regroup and ride to war again.

And to my teammates on Far West? I will get you your flag back – I AM COMING FOR YOU, PNSA, and you know who I am.