February 07, 2020
Junior National Qualifier Race (JNQ #3) in Methow Valley - by Sophie Corkran
Usually the Methow Valley JNQ offers the best weather conditions of any race. But not this year! This past weekend, Teacup athletes competed at Liberty Bell High school in Winthrop, WA. Torrential rain added to the already difficult steep and hilly race course. Saturday's race format was a King's Court sprint, consisting of one time trial start followed by three heats. The new Teacup team tent was a lifesaver. As the race commentator said, we were skiing in "liquid sunshine"! Because of the challenging weather, Coach Karl was kept busy formulating various klister combinations while keeping the skis quick. He succeeded, as the skis were fast and the grip was good, despite the slushy conditions.
Overnight, the "liquid sunshine" turned to solid ice. Sunday's race had sunny skies, but sketchy downhills! The distance races were skate mass start; a 3k for U12/14, 5k for U16, and 10k for U18. The course started the same way as the sprints, going up two brutally steep climbs. For those skiing the 5k or 10k, the race was either 2 or 4 laps of a 2.5k course. Staying upright and still going fast was a challenge.
Anneka - U12
Anneka looked incredibly smooth and fast in her skate race. She powered up the short, steep hills and kept up a great pace throughout the course. Anneka said that she felt she could have worked even harder but didn’t quite know how. This being her last JNQ of the season, the Teacup team looks forward to seeing what she can do next year! She finished 8th in 3k and 11th in the sprints.
Kailua - U14
During the sprints on Saturday, Kailua raced late in the day, starting around 12:30, after the rain stopped. She had an amazing time trial, where she looked stronger and faster than ever, catching up to other racers who started ahead of her. In the 3k distance race, she finished the final kilometer with great V2. She placed 10th in both the sprints and the 3k.
Catcher - U16
Although Catcher said he felt unfocused in his time trial sprint, he went on to win the next two heats! Being in a good position, he then conserved some energy in his last heat to be ready to work hard in the distance race on Sunday. Catcher conquered the tough hills with strength and high tempos and had a great finish, placing 14th in the 5k skate and 11th in the sprints.
Benjamin - U16
Beni raced very consistently, staying in 5th place for the entirety of the 5k. He skied smoothly and strongly, with high speeds on the constant uphills. In the sprints, he had a good qualifying round and was able to eventually move up in place, despite a fall in one of the heats. He ended up finishing 5th by the end of the sprints and placing 5th in the distance race.
Sophie C. - U16
Sophie C. did well on the short uphills of the sprint course but got tangled up with another skier in two of the heats, dropping her place significantly. She managed to win her last heat for a finish of 12th. In the skate 5k, she stayed upright on the treacherous downhills and had a strong V2 finish, but the respiratory illness she'd been fighting that week got the better of her, keeping her from placing as well as she'd hoped. She finished the 5k in 10th place.
Sophie K. - U18
Sophie K. learned the distance course very well, having to do it 4 times to complete 10 kilometers. She skied the sketchy downhills safely and the steep uphills strongly, leading to a finish of 10th place. In the sprints, Sophie had a great final heat, allowing her a finish of 12th.
Justin - U18
Justin had yet another 10k this year, having to do 4 loops of the 2.5k course. He was the first Teacup racer to compete on Sunday and he had good advice for his teammates who hadn’t yet started. In the sprint races the previous day, his classic technique looked better than ever on the technical hills. Justin placed 15th in the sprints and finished 18th in his 10k.
The Olympic course at Soldier Hollow, UT will be home to the final JNQ. Catcher, Beni, and Sophie C. will be attending. A long road trip awaits!
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