JNQ #1 SunValley ID

January 18, 2022

JNQ #1 SunValley ID

JNQ 1: Sun Valley, ID

Hello, this a recap from myself and Teacup/Mt Hood Nordic U18 athlete Catcher Kemmerer of last weekend's JNQ.  See Catcher's detailed description of the races Saturday and Sunday below.  Let me just say that for me this was a amazing experience as it was not only a JNQ but part of the SuperTour series and also for many of those athletes a tune up or resume builder for the upcoming Olympics!  Truly world class competition was taking place, this level of skiing must be witnessed in person to believe it.  

The Lake Creek venue is beautiful and very tough.  It basically takes place on a side of a mountain and you are mostly going straight up or straight down.  Catcher's following description of our "easy" ski around the course on Thursday was true for only one us.  After skiing the course a bunch on Thursday and Friday somewhat fearfully and then seeing the athletes attack it on the weekend was something everyone should get a chance to do.  It definitely gave me a new appreciation for Nordic ski racing.   

System wise, it was pretty cool to see first hand large programs like APU, SMS T2, University of Utah and others test fleets of skis and waxes for some of the world best skiers.  As many of you know my nordic experience is fairly limited to Mt Hood so my challenge this weekend was to not feel like a fish out of water and give Catcher the best experience I could.  Overall, I think Karl and I gave him some pretty good skis, Catcher gave a excellent effort and both athlete and coach gathered more info on how to be better.  

Also- we both got to witness Rosie Brennan attacking from the gun and giving her all for her full race, very inspiring to see. - Coach Kelly


Catcher's recap-

The Pacific Northwest Ski Association (PNSA) Nordic junior racing season began in earnest this past weekend with a Junior Nationals Qualifier (JNQ) race weekend at Lake Creek Nordic Center near Ketchum, ID, held in conjunction with an Intermountain region JNQ and a SuperTour race attended by several members of the U.S. Ski Team. I began my first year in my current age group, MU18/U20. Saturday featured a 10 kilometer freestyle individual start race, and Sunday featured a 15 kilometer classic mass start race. I was the only Teacup/Mt Hood Nordic junior skier to attend, though others will join for the remaining JNQ race weekends this season.

I arrived on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 13 to warm air temperatures above 6C and exceedingly cold snow temperatures; the race venue was entirely bathed in shade as Teacup Nordic coach Kelly Ryan and I completed a short, relaxed race course preview just before sunset. The next morning, I again previewed the race course, as we tested for optimal structure and kick wax under the mostly correct assumption that conditions would remain mostly constant - though tricky - throughout the race weekend.

Prior to Saturday’s 10 kilometer freestyle individual start race, I initiated my GPS watch but forgot to actually begin tracking; possibly a positive indication of focus? During the race, I passed a fair number of racers who started in front of me, and I skied well on the ascents and the little flat terrain available, while maintaining a consistent pace throughout the race. I should have made a few more pushes at the crests of some of the climbs, and navigated the descents more efficiently than I did. I finished 6th in PNSA MU18/U20, with a time of 32:59.8.

I start one of the many tough climbs in V2.

Sunday’s 15 kilometer classic mass start proved exceedingly tactical, with 138 starters across the men’s U18/U20 and senior age groups - across all competitions - released in one wave. I dislike start lists based on USSS points - I was pigeonholed farther back than I would have preferred - but I navigated through the hectic start, closed the gap to some of my nearest PNSA competitors, and skied with them for a few kilometers. I then gapped them on the third of four laps, fought through fatigue arising from the nearly 2,000 meter altitude, and finished 5th in PNSA MU18/U20, with a time of 47:28.3. I approached the finishing straight with no one near me, at a relaxed cadence and with minimal effort, prompting jokes from my father - to whom I endearingly refer as my Finnish Grandma, a euphemism that originated from Teacup Nordic coach Karl Andersson - and Doug and Mia Corkran, parents of Sophie Corkran, a former Teacup Nordic skier who now races with Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation (MBSEF). Afterwords, watching the women’s SuperTour race, Rosie Brennan - who requires no introduction - enjoyed a minute on her closest chasers but still sprinted her heart out, so maybe I should second-guess that decision?

I start the third of four laps of Sunday’s 15 kilometer classic mass start race. Image credit: Kurt Kemmerer

In general, I raced well, and considerably reduced time deficits to my age group’s race winners from my first U16 season two years ago; I find no issue writing that the qualifier proved a largely satisfying start to the season.

My Finnish Grandma and I continued a tradition of sorts on our return trip, taking the morning of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for an easy ski at Anthony Lakes Nordic Center, a high-altitude scenic trail system 20 miles west of North Powder, Oregon; I highly recommend it for recreational skiing.

I should express the most sincere gratitude to Teacup Nordic coaches Karl Andersson and Kelly Ryan for helping me prepare for the race, from ski and mental preparation, and for their technical advice throughout the training season. For years, their guidance has proven critical in my development in Nordic ski racing, and their support has been integral as I have fallen in love with Nordic ski racing. I am excited to continue working with them through the remainder of the racing season and future racing seasons, as they nourish our burgeoning Youth, Pipeline, Junior and Masters programs.

The next JNQ race weekend will be held at Liberty Bell High School in the Methow Valley in north-central Washington, on Jan. 29 and 30.