Twenty athletes with the Durango Nordic Ski Club traveled Dec. 18-20 to Crested Butte to compete in their first Junior National Qualifying races this season.
The weekend of racing provided an opportunity for athletes to test their fitness and gain time on snow.
“Up until the week or two before the race, the team was doing a mix of dry-land training and skiing on rough conditions,” said head coach Gary Colliander. “So being able to finally ski on groomed trails was a big help, as most other teams had been on snow since Thanksgiving.”
Hosted by the Crested Butte Nordic Team and known for its challenging venue, the event featured races on both Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s race was a skate sprint held on a 1.2-kilometer loop. Racers first skied a qualifying race, which determined which athletes would advance into the sprint heats. For the U16 and older age groups, the top 30 athletes moved on.
Abe Ott finished 18th overall for the U18/U20 males. In the U18/U20 female division, Katja Freeburn was eighth and Maggie Wigton was 13th.
For the U16 males, Cobe Freeburn took 16th, and Luke Tichi skied to a 30th-place finish. Carter Reiter was Durango Nordic’s first U16 female finisher in 15th place. Alma Wolf was 22nd, Cecelia Compton was 23rd and Carmen Hall was 26th.
Eighteen skiers moved on for the U14 and U12 age groups. In the U14 male race, Wiley Corra stepped onto the podium with a third-place finish. Teammates Logan Moore and Ethan Craig were close on his heels in fifth and sixth, respectively. For the U14 females, Jordan Taylor was seventh, Georgia Mynatt was ninth and Ruth Holcomb was 17th.
Fred Reiter finished 10th for the U12 males. It was his first Nordic ski race.
For the U12 females, Carter Taylor earned the silver medal. Maggie Holcomb was sixth.
Wrapping up the day of racing were Durango Nordic’s youngest competitors Andre Craig and Betty Holcomb, who both skied a shortened 1K loop. Craig was eighth for the U10 males. Holcomb claimed gold for the U8 females.
Saturday featured cold temperatures and blustery weather for the mass start classic races. Overnight snowfall left the groomed tracks covered in fresh powder and presented tricky waxing conditions for coaches.
“It wasn’t so much a classic race, but rather a test to see who was the toughest mentally,” Colliander said. “The fact that our kids kept a positive outlook and gave their best effort was a win for us. This also translated into some pretty good results.”
All age groups U16 and older raced the challenging 5K course. For the U18/U20 males, Ott finished 37th. Wigton finished sixth in the U18/U20 females division and Katja Freeburn was eighth.
Racing at the height of the blowing storm, Cobe Freeburn and Tichi skied to 19th and 24th, respectively. In the U16 female race, Carter Reiter was 17th and Wolf was 23rd. Hall started the race with the pack, however, trouble with her ski binding kept her from finishing.
The U14 and U12 males and females both raced a 3K course. Corra was fourth for the U14 males. Ethan Craig was fifth and Logan Moore was seventh. For the U14 females, Jordan Taylor finished ninth, Georgia Mynatt was 10th and Ruth Holcomb was 12th.
Fred Reiter finished 13th for the U12 males, while Maggie Holcomb claimed her second sixth-place finish that weekend for the U12 females.
Andre Craig skied to another eighth place finish in his 1K race for the U10 males. Also racing 1K, Betty Holcomb received yet another gold medal for the U8 females.
Further representing Durango for the weekend was Four Corners Timing, a local timing business that traveled to Crested Butte to time the various races.
Durango Nordic’s next Junior National Qualifier will be held Jan. 22-24 in Steamboat Springs.