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Martineau makes strong debut in U18 Junior Nordic Nationals debut

“I think it was a really good performance”

by Than Acuff

Crested Butte Junior Nordic Team (CBNT) member Woody Martineau was the lone representative from the valley on the Rocky Mountain team at Nordic Junior Nationals (JN) last week in Telemark, Wisc. He carried the local colors well, posting two top-20 results in his first year in the U18 age class.

It wasn’t Martineau’s first trip to JNs. He was there last year as a U16, but the jump to U18 is big, especially for Martineau, who is one of the youngest U18 racers in the class.

With months of training under his belt from a season’s worth of racing, coach Austin Ross used the break between the final Rocky Mountain Nordic race and the JN races to put the finishing touches on Martineau’s game.

“The focus was on maximizing what we already had in the bank, get some top-end speed work in to feel fast but not tire him out. After that, it was just a matter of feeling fresh,” says Ross.

Ross and Martineau joined the Rocky Mountain team for the trip to Telemark and when they arrived, they found conditions there to be challenging. Low snow and temperatures in the 60s had race organizers scrambling to pull off the Junior Nationals and provided limited race preparation.

“The snow conditions made it tricky,” says Ross. “There was enough snow on the Birkie [Birkebeiner] trails so we drove there to ski. The snow wasn’t fabulous but it was skiing.”

Martineau opened his JN week on Monday, March 7 with a classic distance race of 10 kilometers and he and Ross spoke about strategy and the layout of the course and how it might favor Martineau.

“It’s a hilly course so we thought it suited his skiing style really well,” says Ross.

The classic style is not Martineau’s strongest discipline but he settled into his rhythm during the first lap and then pushed through the second lap to make up some time and finish 15th overall.

“I think he skied into the race and kept on improving,” says Ross. “We were thrilled with 15th and that set the tone for the week.”

Unfortunately, temperatures continued to climb and the race schedule for the week completely turned upside down. Wednesday’s race was moved back to Friday; Thursday’s rest day was turned into a race day and Martineau lined up for a 10-kilometer skate race.

As snow continued to disappear, courses were tweaked again and the two-lap race was changed into a three-lap course. Martineau started out flat but made his move during the second and third laps to cross in 20th place.

“He had another good race and skied well,” says Ross. “I was really proud of him.”

Martineau had a rough day in Friday’s sprint skate race, a discipline that never favors the CBNT skiers, getting knocked out in one of the earlier heats, but he lined up Saturday for the final race of the JNs to find a new event.

Originally, skiers were to compete in a relay race but with snow almost completely gone, organizers closed the week of racing with a hill climb. The course was 1.7 kilometers long and climbed 450 feet with all three teammates doing it at the same time. Martineau and his two teammates finished the day in ninth overall in the U18 age class.

“The kids had a blast and it ended up being a really fun race,” says Ross.

Overall, Martineau had a great showing for his first time as a U18, and bodes well for next year with Ross and Martineau talking about hitting the top 10.

“I think it was a really good performance,” says Ross. “I think he’s really motivated to train well for next year.”

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