In its history, Far West Nordic has produced many skiers who have gone on to success on the college and national stages. However, one aspect that has eluded skiers from California and Nevada has been on the international front, at the very highest level of skiing. Although some Juniors have been successful enough to race internationally, for example at the World Juniors Competition and in the junior Scandinavian Cup, Far West has produced only one skier in memory (John Downing in 1999) who has been able to race on the World Cup circuit. For the first time in over 20 years, that situation has been rectified — in triplicate.
Named to the World Cup racing teams for the upcoming FIS events in Canada (Quebec and Canmore) are former Far West Nordic skiers Far West Matthew Gelso and Chelsea Holmes (racing for the United States from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) and Russell Kennedy (racing for Canada from the Alberta World Cup Academy).
Gelso and Kennedy are both graduates of Truckee High School (Classes of 2006 and 2009, respectively), and were both top Juniors racing for Auburn Ski Club, with many top placings at the Cross Country Ski Junior National Championships (Junior Olympics). Gelso went on to race successfully at Colorado University in Boulder, CO. (including an NCAA National Championship in 2010), and is now associated with the Sun Valley Foundation Gold Team, while Kennedy took an alternate route, choosing to utilize his dual-citizenship and has been training in Canmore for the Alberta World Cup team.
Holmes, although a native of Girdwood, Alaska, came to Far West via the University of Nevada Nordic Ski Team, where she impressive results on the NCAA circuit during her four winters there. After skiing for the Far West Nordic Farm Team and Sugar Bowl Academy for two seasons, Holmes has gone on to ski for 2 years with the Sun Valley Gold Team and has achieved national success in numerous races.
The Canadian World Cup races will be held this weekend, December 7 and 8 in downtown Quebec, and in Canmore, Alberta on December 13, 15, and 16.
article and photos by Mark Nadell