Ten Parkites have been nominated to the USA Nordic junior and senior national teams
The 2020-21 USA Nordic competitive season is still over half a year away, but that doesn’t mean the organization can’t make headlines.
USA Nordic announced on Sunday that 47 athletes throughout the country have been nominated to the junior and senior national teams. This is the largest ever nominated by USA Nordic, up from 38 nominees last year. The additional nominees prove that USA Nordic is continuing its rise in the world rankings with athletes beginning to thrive as the highest levels of competition.
“Every season, the goal is to always make the team for the next season so it wasn’t too much of a surprise that I was nominated for it after the year I had,” said Samantha Macuga, 19, of Park City. “But right now without ski jumping and the season being cut short, it was definitely something to look forward to with the announcement of the team. I was excited because I made the team again, so even though I can’t train right now it gives me something to look forward too when we get back at it.”
This is Macuga’s second consecutive season with the ski jumping senior national team, one of 10 Park City athletes representing the 47-person nominees.
When she said she wasn’t surprised about making them team based on the previous season, it didn’t come from a place of arrogance but rather understanding of the system. There is a certain set of criteria that athletes must meet in order to be nominated for the national teams, and Macuga met those terms.
But when the announcement finally came out publicly, it was more of a relief for Macuga because she no longer had to keep the secret she was holding the past week or two.
“For the athletes, we get told a bit ahead of time so the official announcement is for everyone else. … We can’t tell anyone but I did tell my parents, so that was cool,” Macuga said. “Sometimes we can tell who made it based on the criteria but there is discretion involved, that’s for sure. Sometimes we can tell based on who’s on the email change of being told we made it, but not everyone makes the team for the same reason so it’s exciting to see in the end.”
Park City locals make up 10 of the 47 athletes who’ve been nominated to the men’s Nordic combined junior and senior national team, the women’s ski jumping junior and senior national teams and the men’s junior national ski jumping team.
While Macuga is a member of the senior team, fellow Parkite Rachael Haerter is looking to make that jump after another successful season on the junior national team.
“Even though it’s my second year on the team, I was so excited to find out when my coach emailed me with the news,” Haerter said. “I think the main difference from the first time to the second time is that I wasn’t really trying to make the team the first time so it was a surprise, but this time I was working to make it back on the team. It’s definitely still a big deal to me and I’m just so excited to get going again.”
Although they don’t compete on the same team, Macuga and Haerter are connected to one another from when they were younger and first learning about skiing.
Without the Youth Sports Alliance in Park City, both Macuga and Haerter believe that they never would’ve participated in ski jumping, and likewise would’ve fallen in love with it. Through the “Get Out and Play” program, they embarked on a journey that would lead them to where they are right now.
“It’s thrilling for our organization to see when we have the opportunity to introduce someone to a sport and it ends up becoming their passion and they pursue it at the highest level,” said Emily Fisher, YSA executive director. “We just want to expose kids to as many sports as possible to help them find their spark and passion, and that’s what we really are all about.”
Jared Shumate of Park City is back with the Nordic combined senior team after placing 21st in the Continental Cup standings last season, in which he split his time with the Continental Cup and World Cup.
Last year, Parkite Sarah Hendrickson missed a considerable amount of time on the ski jumping circuit. But she’s been nominated to the senior national team this year, and big things are expected of her should she choose to return.
Park City local Paige Jones performed well last season, jumping into the FIS Cup points, scoring Continental Cup points, earning two World Cup starts and 23rd at the Youth Olympic Games before moving on to the Junior World Championships.
Jones and fellow Parkite Jillian Highfill are two names to keep an eye on as they’re making the move up the ranks and proving that the future of the national teams are in good hands.
Greyson Scharffs (men’s junior national ski jumping team), Macey Olden (women’s junior national ski jumping team), Stephen Schumann (men’s senior national Nordic combined team) and Zach Selzman (men’s junior national Nordic combined team) are the other Parkites nominated by USA Nordic.
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.