Locals ski to top national finishes

Sigurslid paces Durango Nordic Ski Club

Haakon Sigurslid led the way among current members of Durango Nordic Ski Club last week at the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow, Utah, and former club members Cully Brown and Tad Elliott also posted top performances.

Sigurslid placed third in the 1.3-kilometer classic sprint and seventh in the classic 10K in the J1 age category (16-17-year-olds). His sprint finish was 12th among all juniors (16-19).

Brown finished as the second-ranked J1 skier in the nation with a second in the 10K classic plus top-five finishes in the sprint and the 15K freestyle/skate race.

Sigurslid and Brown’s performances earned them spots on the U.S. Scandinavian Cup J1 team that will compete in Trondheim, Norway, during the next two weeks.

Elliott, a member of the U.S. Ski Team, placed second overall in the 15K freestyle, just 6 seconds behind fellow USST member Eric Bjornsen of Alaska. Elliott also placed seventh in the 30K classic race.

Elliott and Brown, who also is an international-level competitor in kayaking, now ski for Vail Team Homegrown.

Results for other DNSC J1s included Amy Katz (28th, 24th and 22nd for the sprint, freestyle and classic races, respectively), Hannah Peterson (29th, 19th, 18th), Kaylee Blevins (25th, 37th, 31st), Lily Oswald (41st, 39th, 37th) and Abe Ott (52nd, 48th, 49th).

Former DNSC member Rachel Hampton, who lives in Telluride and trains a great deal under the auspices of Central Cross Country, placed 15th, 14th and 15th in the OJ (18-19) sprint, freestyle and classic races.

Elliott’s sister, Paige Elliott, competed in the distance skate and classic races and finished 39th and 37th in the U23 group. She skis for Dartmouth College, where she is a senior. Both Elliotts are graduates of Durango High School and DNSC.

Gino Pastore, a Durangoan who now skis for the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, placed fourth in the OJ classic sprint. He also performed well in the distance races.

Brown’s brother Rogan skis for the University of Vermont, where he is a junior. He finished 53rd, 19th and 29th in the U23 category.

Another DHS alum, Elena Breed, skis for the University of Denver, where she is a junior. She finished 45th in the sprint and 23rd in the freestyle for the U23s.

The racing featured the top 400 skiers from around the country with the exception of seven members of the U.S. team who are in Europe and took place during four alternate days on challenging courses similar to those used in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics held at Soldier Hollow.