Park City Nordic Ski Club sends five to Nationals
While temperatures in Park City were hitting 60 degrees, five Park City Nordic Ski Club (PCNSC) members were in frigid Fairbanks, Alaska, March 8-17, racing in the USSA Junior National Championships against the fastest Junior Nordic skiers in the country.
The five skiers from the PCNSC and Park City High School Kyle Beling, Brenna Egan, Alex Jackson, Leah Lange and Julia Lazzaroni all had impressive showings. To qualify for Nationals, the kids competed all winter against the fastest skiers in the Intermountain Region, which consists of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.
The ski races were held at the Birch Hill Recreational Area just outside of Fairbanks. The terrain was some of the most challenging the skiers had faced all year. Long climbs and fast technical downhills were the order of the day. Temperatures in Fairbanks hit 20 below zero Fahrenheit at night but warmed up to an ideal 10 to15 degrees at race time. However, one morning was cold enough that the skiers used duct tape on their faces to protect from frostbite.
"The kids skied great," coach Gordon Lange said. "Collectively they were rested, prepared for the altitude and peaked at the right time."
All five skiers had personal-best national results, with Kyle Beling (MJ1) placing 10th in the freestyle 10K race, Brenna Egan (FJ1) placing sixth in the B Final (12th overall) of the freestyle sprint race and Alex Jackson (MJ2) placing 14th in the mass start classic 5K, the final race of the competition. Leah Lange (FJ2) had amazing races placing fifth in two races and fourth in the sprint, while Julia Lazzaroni (FJ2) had her first experience as a national racer coming in 36th in the mass start classic 5K.
According to University of Alaska Fairbanks ski coach Scott Jerome, the NCAA ski programs look for kids finishing as J1s in the top 20. Given this year’s results, many of the PSNSC skiers may have bright futures as collegiate skiers.
To top off a great week, the skiers were treated to an amazing display of the Northern Lights.
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