First Time at JN’s

So far, this has been an amazing experience, and I know it will continue to be fantastic. I remember when Junior Nationals were at Aburn Ski Club. I was sitting on the sidelines of this corner, watching in awe at how fast they were moving, and with such ease they could go around that corner. And at that moment, I knew I had to race at JN’s. And I told myself as soon as I am old enough, I need to go out there and be apart of this competition. And here I am. I think it’s still sinking in that I’m here. This is an experience that I will remember through out my life. Thank you Mom and Dad for sending me here, and thanks to every volunteer who helped in the qualifying races! It is greatly appreciated by all of us!


A Good Week So Far

It’s been a great week so far in Fairbanks, AK. The week started out relatively warm, being about 30-32 degrees Fahrenheit on our first day of skiing. However, its gotten much colder since. It was about 5 degrees this morning while skiing. The skiing was very, very slow this morning with such cold snow. I would almost have been satisfied with the kick I was getting for a classic race even though I was on my skate skis. All the same, it was fun. I really like Birch Hill as a ski area. The pitching, turning trails are really fun and exciting.

We’ve been doing a lot of fun activities here as well. This afternoon we visited the Permafrost Cave. It was built during the Cold War by the US Army testing and experimenting for how to build tunnels in Greenland. The tunnel itself goes to a depth of about 90 feet underground. In there, there are frozen (not fossilized) bones of all sorts of Pleistocene mammals such as wooly rhinoceros and mammoths. There are also areas where plants and other roots come down through the ceiling of the tunnel. the permafrost itself is permanently frozen ground, which makes a loud metallic sound if you tap on it. To keep it from thawing because of people doing work in there, the entrance has been blocked off and the tunnel has basically been turned into a giant refrigerator.

The flag battle with PNSA has been much lower key than last year. They stole our flag on Sunday by telling the front desk that they were Patrick and getting a room key, and then storming his room with the entire team. I stole their flag from them on Tuesday by just grabbing it out the hands of one of them.


Far West Nordic has reached the Medal Stand 9 times this week.

Monday’s Freestyle:
Patrick Mcelravey (OJ Boys)
Peter Holmes (J1 Boys)
Dylan Syben (J2 Boys)
Julien Bordes (J2 Boys)
Katrin Larusson (J1 Girls)
Hannah Halvorsen (J2 Girls)

Wednesday’s Relays
Sam Zabell, Julien Bordes, Dylan Syben (J2 Boys)



Patrick Mcelravey






Katrin Larusson


Peter Holmes



Hannah Halvorsen


Sam Zabell, Julien Bordes, Dylan Syben



Rad Racing Relays

First race check. Far West was turning heads as we blew through the course yesterday. But moving forward we have the relays today. The course is fast and short. We have several strong teams in each division. Some Nordic lingo for you, the person who starts is called the scrabler, and the person who finishes is called the anchor. I will try and tell you the teams but I don’t remember the exact order of them, sorry.
J1/0J boys: Peter, Shane, Patrick… Evan, Aaron, Peter…Alex, Brandon D., and a guest appearance from Alec.
J2 Boys: Dylan, Julian, Sam… Casey, Skyler, Brandon.
J2 Girls: Hannah, Amanda, Lizzie…. Savanah and two fast New Englang girls
J1/0J Girls: Joelle, Camille, Skyler… Katrin, Bria, Danielle… Raylene, Elise, Kyla

The races don’t start till 11. For us the girls don’t go till after 1:30 so Ray and I are enjoying our morning with some hot mint tea and entertaining our selves with bracelet making and a bit of homework. The temperatures have dropped significantly and us Cali girls are missing the sunshine.

Look for pictures later of some smiling, glittery faces. :)

First Race Recap and Relay Day

The first race of the 2013 Junior Nationals was an extremely successful day for Far West Nordic skiers. Coach Holly Whitney calculated that 27% of our 26 racing athletes were in the top 10. In the J2 boy’s race, a 5km skate, Dylan Syben took 10th place and Julien Bordes skied his way into 8th place. In the J2 girl’s competition, also a 5km skate, Hannah Halvorsen had an amazing race, might I mention that it was her first Junior National race ever, with the end result of a 10th place finish. The J1/OJ men also had an amazing day as they skied the difficult course twice in order to complete their 10km skate race. Patrick McElravey raced his way to 9th place overall; in the OJ category he was 5th. Peter Holmes also had a great race, finishing 25th overall and 5th American J1. Finally, the J1/OJ girls had great races too. With a stand out result, Katrin Laursson was 7th overall and in the J1 category she came out on the podium with a bronze medal. Overall it was an amazing day for our amazing division. We turned some of the coaches heads from other divisions and made our mark!
A quick side note: There is an amazingly fast Norwegian team here racing along side us Americans here in Fairbanks. Most, if not all, of them skied to top 5 finishes, but some Americans could still hang with them! This goes to show that American Nordic skiing is really coming along, not just at the top level of the World Cup, but also at the Junior level. Let’s keep up the good work!
So after a very exciting first day of racing, we get to ski again today and do some relay races. Every individual on each three-person team races 3.3km, so the relay is a 3×3.3km. Far West has some speedy teams that can earn some very valuable Alaska Cup points. So keep your eyes glued to summit timing as we race hard in these very-far-below-freezing temperatures!

Getting Ready to Rock….

The animals are asleep in their cages. Nervous energy abounds for the first race of the week tomorrow, a 5 km. Interval Start Freestyle race against the best athletes in the country (10 km. for the intrepid J1 and OJ Boys).

It’s way after bedtime here in Fairbanks, but it’s not just the athletes who are excited for the racing to start….

—-Captain Nordic

Conversation at the Coffee Shop

Had to go to coffee shop to get internet service because hotel is overloaded.

Here’s the scenario at the coffee shop:
Girlfriend has been waiting at least an hour for boyfriend to come to the coffee shop. He finally arrives. It’s his birthday. She buys him breakfast and then here’s the conversation:

Her – I could teach you cpr real quick. Like in 45 minutes.
Him – Nah.

Her – You need to get some clothes.
Him – Nah. I’m fine.

Her – You’ve had that same outfit for probably all of your life. Let’s go get an undershirt, pants and a shirt.
Him – Uh, ok.

Her – I know that’s not a very exciting thing to do on your birthday.
Him – Shrugs shoulder. Puts his arm around her and says thank you, babe.

Happy Birthday Fairbanks Style.

From Fairbanks With Love

All 27 athletes and 7 of our 8 wonderful coaches have made it to Fairbanks, Alaska. Despite of the early arrival at 1 am, everyone was excited and enthusiastic to start our week of racing and fun.
Today the team started with breakfast and a classic ski at Birch Hill Resort. Luckily, Fairbanks is going through, as Mark Nadell might put it, a “heat wave” so the temperatures were more than bearable. With warm weather and great hardwax skiing, the whole team was in good spirits. Plus, we all learned that our very own Far West native, Joanne Reid, skied her way to the top of the podium at the NCAA Championships. WAY TO GO JOANNE! Hopefully we all use Joanne’s victory as a way to motivate ourselves this week and throughout or skiing careers. Far West may be a small region but we can still kick butt!
In the coming week we all have our biggest races of the season. I say lets get pumped, race our hearts out, and show the rest of the country what the west coast is made of!

A special thank you to Katrin and Raylene, our lovely senior girls, for the gifts for the girls team! A picture is posted below.

Far West J2 Girls’ Team in Fairbanks!

Today the J2 Girls’ (and the rest of the Far West team) had their first chance to check out the trails at Birch Hill, our venue for JNs. These were some of the comments during our classic ski as we attempted to navigate the race courses…

1. Birch Hill is aptly named because there are a lot of Birch trees and it is hilly.
2. The trails are very wide which is sweet
3. It is VERY confusing since the trails are very twisty, turny and there are a million different signs with about 5 different color schemes
4. The local bank in town said it was 41 degrees…this can’t possibly be true and we’re sure they are trying to trick us californians
5. There are a lot of hills and some technical downhill turns
6. Extra blue hard wax is way superior to klister
7. It’s pretty sweet to finally be in Alaska, the first time for almost all of us!

We made it!

After small delays and long flights, we made it to Fairbanks!