Woody Martineau headed to Junior Nationals
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Nordic Team (CBNT) is wrapping up the 2017 season in the next two weeks and is sending one of its own, U18 skier Woody Martineau, back to the Junior Nationals in Lake Placid, N.Y., March 3-11.
The team opened the season back in December and then spent the better part of January with continued training before returning to the racing fold with a Junior National Qualifier (JNQ) in Aspen January 21-22.
“We got a lot of great training in over December with practices during the break and then the kids did the MM7 [Magic Meadows 7] for distance training,” says coach Molly Susla.
Martineau put in one of the strongest efforts of his career in an event he typically struggles with—sprinting—taking fifth in the sprint classic in Aspen.
“Woody probably had one of his best classic sprints,” says Susla. “Sprinting is still not his strongest event but among the Rocky Mountain Division he usually finishes top-10.”
Some of the younger skiers managed to shake off their tired legs from the MM7 for the Aspen races, as Finn Veit and Oliver White each posted top-15 results.
The team then headed to Steamboat the next weekend for another JNQ and Martineau continued his quest toward a return to the Junior Nationals, posting a top-10 result in the skate sprint and then hitting the podium in the 10-kilometer classic race.
Meanwhile, the younger kids continued to post quality results with another series of top-15 finishes.
With success in both sprint and distance races through the first JNQ races of the season, Martineau had punched his ticket to Junior Nationals. He gave the hometown crowd a glimpse of his burgeoning talent when he crushed the field of racers in the 21-kilometer skate race at the Alley Loop the first weekend of February, beating a handful of mid-level collegiate racers in the process.
“It was to be expected but it was still pretty cool,” says Susla. “It was the longest race of the season for him and he still did so well.”
The CBNT team then finished up the regular season of racing in Durango on Saturday and Sunday, February 18-19. Susla took six skiers to Durango, including Martineau. Since Martineau had already qualified for Junior Nationals ranked eighth in the entire Rocky Mountain Division, Susla was looking forward to the races as an opportunity for Martineau to ski free of pressure.
Martineau had other plans, though.
“It was a chance to not put too much pressure on him and use the races more as training races,” says Susla. “He was qualified in eight but he wanted to move up in the overall results.”
Martineau kicked off the weekend placing fourth in the 10-kilometer classic race with a time of 30 minutes, 39 seconds. He then lined up Sunday for the 5-kilometer freestyle race and stepped up on the podium with a second-place finish, moving up into a tie for fourth in the overall season standings.
Elior Bilow joined Martineau in the U18 class to jump into the racing fray.
“He tested himself and pushed himself, which is all we could ask for,” says Susla.
Seve Petersen has been mixing in U16 Nordic races with competitions on the junior freeskiing circuit. Despite his limited time on Nordic skis this year, Petersen placed 15th on Saturday and 13th on Sunday, while the younger crew of Veit, White and Andrew Merlo all finished the season strong.
“It was a good weekend for the younger skiers,” says Susla.
Martineau and Susla both have their sights set on Junior Nationals in March with Martineau competing and Susla picked to be one of the Rocky Mountain Division coaches at the races. The plan for Martineau is to continue additional speed work with some emphasis on fine-tuning his specialty, the distance races.
“He has goals to finish as an all-American in his age group again and to finish on the podium and be one of the top U18 skiers in the country,” says Susla.