The Durango Nordic Ski Club wrapped up Junior National qualifying with a series of top finishes at Eldora last weekend.The Nordic club qualified 11 skiers to be a part of the Rocky Mountain Junior National Team that will compete in the Junior National Championships in Truckee, Calif., in March.
The national qualifiers are OJ Class Lars Ellefson; J1 Class Rogan Brown, Paige Elliott, Elena Breed; J2 Class Alicia Rose Pastore, Hannah Madden, Rachel Hampton, Erin Kinney, Gino Pastore, Sepp Kuss and Ben Capelin.
Coaches from the Durango Nordic Ski Club who will go with the team are Rocky Mountain Team Leader Mike Elliott, Durango Nordic head coach Josh Dalley and Jeanne Pastore.
Races were held last weekend. The Junior Nationals are for skiers ages 14-19.
"Many of the Durango skiers turned in their best result of the year, using their strengths to ski into top positions within the division," Dalley said.
"Our older skiers were all striving for a spot on the Rocky Mountain Junior National Team. Our younger juniors also skied exceptionally, claiming many podium finishes, including a sweep in the J3 girls category.
"It was a great weekend of racing," Dalley said.
In the male OJ/J1 10-kilometer classic race Friday, Ellefson, age 19, won by 19 seconds.
It was the best result for Ellefson this winter. He gained the lead on a very tough and long hill and kept gaining time as the race unfolded.
Brown, 17, was sixth for the Durango Nordic team. Haakon Samuelson was 17th.
On Saturday in the skate race, Brown finished third. Ellefson was fourth. Samuelson was 30th.
In the J1/OJ female 10K classic, Breed (16) was second. Paige Elliott (17) finished sixth.
In the 5K skate race, Elliott was seventh, and Breed finished ninth.
In the female J2 5K classic (mass start), Alicia Rose Pastore (15) finished sixth. Kinney (15) was seventh. Hampton (14) finished eighth. Madden (15) placed 11th. Cara Webster (14) was 19th.
In the 5K skate race, Pastore finished third with Madden sixth, Hampton seventh, Kinney ninth and Webster 19th.
Gino Pastore (14) enjoyed the best results of any of the Durango Nordic skiers.
Pastore was the gold-medal winner both days.
He won the Friday classic by the width of a shoelace. Race officials had to review the videotape to declare a winner.
In second place was Max Scrimgeour from Steamboat Springs, who will be Pastore's roommate at the Junior Nationals. They are best friends, and they have split the top spot on the podium this winter.
Kuss (14) finished fifth. Gunter Ott (15) was ninth.
Capelin (15) finished 10th. Elliott Saslow (15) was 13th. In the 5K skate race, Pastore won again by a comfortable margin of 16 seconds over Scrimgeour.
Kuss was eighth, Ott ninth, Capelin 11th and Saslow 17th.
Another weekend highlight came in the J3 girls skate race when the Durango girls swept the podium.
Amy Katz (13) was the winner. Lily Oswald (13) finished second, and Stephanie Ogier (13) was third.
The day before in the mass start 3K classic, Ogier finished second with Katz third.
Oswald was ninth after suffering a couple of falls when she tangled with other competitors.
Haakon Sigurslid (13) produced his best results of the winter by winning the gold medal in the 3-klilometer skate race.
Cully Brown (12) finished third. Abe Ott (12) was 13th. Gordon Gianniny (12) was 17th.
In the mass start 3K skate race, Sigurslid finished second. Brown was third. Ott finished 13th and Ganniny 17th.
Durango girls entered in the J4 class produced excellent results both days.
In the classic mass start race, Avra Saslow (11) finished second. Mallory Byrd (11) was fourth.
The next day in the skate race, the two skiers swapped their results. Bryd was second, and Saslow was fourth.
Charlie Greenberg, 11, enjoyed a strong weekend with a third-place finish in the 3K classic race and a second-place finish in the skate race. Jared Webster, 10, was 12th in the skate race. Stan Ott (9) finished second in both of his 1-kilometer races.