Junior Olympians land on local courses
The week’s storms hit just in time to welcome the country’s best junior Nordic athletes.
The piles of newly fallen snow will serve as the perfect wintery backdrop for the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) and Soldier Hollow to host Junior Olympic Nordic competitions.
Thursday kicked off a week of non-stop action for the nation’s best youth skiers. On March 2-5, the Chevrolet Jumping/Nordic Combined Junior Olympics will be held at the UOP and Soldier Hollow, followed by the Chevrolet Cross Country Junior Olympics March 5-10 at Soldier Hollow.
With 11 local athletes that qualified in the Nordic combined and jumping disciplines from the Intermountain Division, the UOP should be full of spectators and excitement. Also in attendance will be kids from the Alaska, Eastern, Central and Rocky Mountain divisions. According to National Sports Foundation director Greg Poirier, the competitors are J-2 level athletes between the ages of 14 and 15, as well as younger athletes who meet the criteria. Some of those athletes also qualified for the World Junior Championships, which will be held next week in Tarvisio, Italy, March 12-18.
Starting on Monday, more of the area’s brightest young Nordic stars will take to the snow for the cross-country competition. According to Park City Nordic Team coach Gordon Lange, eight members of his club qualified for the event. The youth earned their spots by competing in a series of races, both skating and classic, throughout the season. Youth from the J-2 ranks, on up to the top-ranked OJ level, will battle in the week’s races.
Unfortunately, the cross-country races are scheduled too close to the World Junior competition, meaning that many of the nation’s top young racers, including Park City’s defending Junior Olympic J-1 10K champion Rosie Brennan, will be traveling to Italy rather than competing in Midway.
One top local racer to watch will be Park City High School student Elizabeth Guiney, who has dominated the J-2 girls class by being undefeated the entire season. Lange says all of his racers that qualified performed well in the weeks leading up to this event and predicts that they should fare well.
"It’s nice to see that all the hard work has paid off and the whole team is having their best races right when they need them," Lange said. "We all wish the team the best of luck at Soldier Hollow."
Freestyle 10K National Champion Alexa Turzian will also miss the Junior Olympics for the Junior Worlds event.
2007 Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Junior Olympics – UOP and Soldier Hollow
Saturday, March 3
Team HS68 Ski Jump Competition 9 11 a.m. UOP
Team Nordic Combined X-C Race (2 x 1K x 3 laps) 1 p.m. Soldier Hollow
2007 Chevrolet Cross Country Junior Olympics – Soldier Hollow
Monday, March 5
Skate Sprint Quarterfinal/Semi-final/Final Rounds
Wednesday, March 7
Free Technique Mass Start competition
Mid-week awards ceremony/ice cream social 7 – 8:30 p.m. Bernese Center, Zermatt Resort and Spa
Friday, March 9
Individual Classic competition
Saturday, March 10
Classic Relay competition 9 a.m.
Final awards banquet and celebration
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.