The Crested Butte and Gunnison Junior Nordic Team (CBGNT) had a successful weekend of racing in the Utah Super Junior National Qualifier on Friday and Saturday, January 18-19.
In attendance were racers from all across the western half of the country, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Colorado.
The Crested Butte and Gunnison Junior Nordic Team held their own in the face of stiff competition with a large group of elite skiers in each race. The racecourse in Park City is the same as was used in the 2002 Olympics.
Over two days of racing, the local skiers competed in a skate technique sprint race of 1.5 kilometers and a classic technique distance race of 2 kilometers, 3 kilometers, 5 kilometers and 15 kilometers, respectively, depending on the age category. Five skiers from Crested Butte and Gunnison attended the race spanning four age categories.
Pharwit Durgan, age 11, skied to a ninth place finish in the J4 category and Ian Boucher, age 12, battled to a 24th place in a huge field of 50 racers in the J3 age group.
On the women’s side, Hannah Smith, age 14, had a standout race in the J2 sprint race, qualifying for the finals. In her first sprint race ever, Smith skied through the semifinal and quarterfinal heats to qualify for the final heat of sprint racing to determine the top six positions of the final results.
In the last heat, Smith came off the start line in fourth place, charging up the first hill. At the high point of the race, she had slipped back to sixth place, trailing the other girls, however speedy skis and a tight tuck on the final downhill allowed her to sneak up just behind the other girls heading into the final climb.
Smith put the hammer down on the last climb and charged past the three girls to put herself into third position as she sprinted to the line in the final one hundred meters. All the girls sprinted down the last straightaway and lunged at the line and when it was all over Hannah had ended up with a phenomenal fifth place.
Saturday’s distance Classic race dawned with warmer temperatures as sun came out halfway through the day to give the races a spring like feel—a welcome change for our Crested Butte skiers.
Boucher, Durgan and Elizabeth Desmarais, age 12, all had exceptional races in the respective age groups and it showed in the smiles on their faces at the finish line. Desmarais especially showed her determination out on the course by screaming at her competitors to get out of the way down the hills as she flew by them.
Smith skied another tough race to place eighth in her 5-kilometer division. Dawson Stucki, age 17, showed his true calling in the 15-kilometer race J1 age group. A three-lap race over one of the toughest courses junior skiers have to race on, Stucki raced a steady race, holding his technique the whole way.
The team will be competing in the final two Junior National Qualifiers in Aspen February 7-9 and in Durango February 14-15.