Two skiers could make trip to Nationals
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Nordic Team (CBNT) spent the last month training and racing and is looking to close out the regular season with the final Junior National Qualifier (JNQ) race in Minturn on Saturday and Sunday, February 20-21. And if all goes as coach Austin Ross hopes, two CBNT athletes will be making the trip to the 2016 Junior Nationals in Telemark, Wisc. in mid-March.
After a break from the racing scene, the team returned to race form the final two weekends of January with races in Steamboat Springs, Colo. and Soldier Hollow, Utah.
“We’ve been training really well and times have been improving,” says Ross.
They headed to Steamboat for the Rocky Mountain Nordic JNQ January 23-24. The race weekend opened with a freestyle event and Woody Martineau continued his assault in his first year as a U18 racer, placing fourth. Benjamin Swift finished the day in 12th among U18 racers and Aiden Truettner, in 14th place, was not far behind.
Martineau posted another top ten the following day, placing ninth in the classic race. Truettner came close to cracking top 10, finishing the race in 11th and Swift closed out the weekend with a 21st-place result in the classic race.
“Woody has been skiing consistently all season long,” says Ross.
The team rested, recovered and fine-tuned some more the week following Steamboat before returning to the road for the annual trip to the hallowed Nordic grounds of Soldier Hollow, Utah for a Super Qualifier. Super Qualifier races are some of the biggest in the country and draw racers from all over the West.
“It’s awesome because the kids are racing against the entire Western U.S. and it’s at the Olympic venue,” says Ross. “It’s a really big, really competitive field.”
Things kicked off with the classic sprint races on Friday, January 29, a format that never works well for high-altitude-trained CBNT skiers, and results were sporadic. The team returned to the course the next day for the freestyle race and Martineau did well among the throngs from the western U.S., placing seventh in a huge field. Swift pushed his way to a 35th-place finish but Seve Petersen was the highlight of the weekend for CBNT. While only a U14 racer, Petersen’s performances in Utah bode well for the future.
He finished the classic sprint event with a ninth place and then took third in the freestyle race the next day.
“That’s a major accomplishment,” says Ross. “That was the biggest, most competitive U14 field in the country.”
The team now has its collective sights set on the final JNQ of the year this weekend in Minturn, Colo. Ross will take as many as 10 skiers to the race and Minturn always makes for a nice close to the season.
“Everybody’s making progress, especially in their technique, the past couple of weeks,” says Ross. “Hopefully it’ll pay off this weekend.”
In addition, the Minturn races provide one last chance at qualifying for Junior Nationals. Such is the case for Truettner. While Martineau is in, Truettner is knocking on the door and could make the cut with his effort in Minturn.
“Aiden is right on the bubble,” says Ross. “He needs to have a couple of good races to get in.”