Temperatures were low - just above zero at start time - as the skiers in the Durango Nordic Ski Club competed in the
first Junior National Qualifier for the 2009-10 season in Crested Butte a week ago.
Racers in the J2 (ages 14-15), J1 (16-17), and OJ (18-19) categories are attempting to qualify for Junior Nationals in
March. They will ski against other athletes from across Colorado.
Last season, 11 athletes from the Durango Nordic Ski Club qualified for Junior Nationals.
Head coach Josh Dalley said he is confident that this year will be equally successful, but acknowledges that it's a
tough road to Junior Nationals.
We had an impressive showing for the first race of the season," Dalley said.
December races are difficult. Obviously, it's important to have good results, but most athletes aren't trying to reach
their peak fitness until later in the season in order to do well at Junior
J1 skier Alicia Rose Pastore finished second in the Saturday skate race. She was fourth in the Sunday classic race.
Pastore will travel to Senior Nationals in Anchorage this month to compete for a spot representing the United States in
the Scandinavian Cup for J1 racers. She made the team and competed in the cup last season.
Hannah Madden, also J1, finished seventh Saturday, while Elena Breed - skating for the second time this season due to
injury - was 10th. Breed placed seventh in the classic race with Madden eighth.
Amy Katz, Durango's top-placing J2 girl on Saturday, finished sixth.
Rachel Hampton was 10th, Stephanie Ogier was 13th, and Lily Oswald was 14th in the competitive field.
Emma Greenburg and Cara Webster were 19th and 20th among the J2 girls.
Hampton was all smiles Sunday after rallying to a second place in the classic race.
Katz placed ninth, Ogier 10th and Oswald 11th. Webster was 18th and Greenburg 20th for Durango's Nordic's deep J2
Kaila Hart, Durango's lone OJ skier, skied to a fifth-place finish in both skate and classic competitions. Lars
Ellefson placed fifth among Senior Men in both the classic and skate competitions.
Haakon Samuelson was the highest placing J1 male from Durango. He was seventh in the skate race ahead of teammates
Gunther Ott (10th), Elliott Saslow (11th), and Ben Capelin (12th.)
Gino Pastore raced to a second-place finish in the J2 men's age group with Sepp Kuss and Haakon Sigurslid nipping at
his heels in fifth and seventh.
The classic results differed only slightly: Capelin placed seventh in J1 men, just in front of Samuelson (eighth), Ott
(12th) and Saslow (13th).
Pastore again was second. Sigurslid was fourth with Kuss sixth.
Younger skiers unable to qualify took advantage of the relatively short drive time and raced in Crested Butte to gain
experience. Hannah Peterson and Avra Saslow represented Durango Nordic in the J3 girls category placing 11th and 13th,respectively.
Marit May was seventh among the J4 girls.
In the classic race, May was fifth, Peterson 10th and Saslow 12th.
J3 Cully Brown won both the skate race and the classic race in Crested Butte. He won by nearly a minute in the skate
Charlie Greenburg, Abe Ott and Gordon Gianniny placed eighth, 10th and 13th, respectively.
In the classic race, Brown again finished first with Greenburg fifth, Ott 10th and Gianniny 13th.
J4 was represented in force by Jared Webster, Dylan Williams and Stan Ott. They were 8-9-10 in the skate race.
Dalley said the Crested Butte races proved to be challenging mentally and physically for the skiers as they battled
higher elevations and cold conditions.
We are going to use this race as a motivator," Dalley said.
As athletes, we are always looking for ways to get better, and Crested Butte reminded us of that. We will use
Christmas break to get even faster, and we will be ready at our home meet (Jan. 16-17)."