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Junior Nationals at Donner Summit, California

March 16, 2020

Junior Nationals at Donner Summit, California

Junior Nationals at Donner Summit, California - by Sophie Corkran

Back in Soldier Hollow, Ben and I were named to the PNSA team. Our coach, Karl, told us the news after what felt like forever once the final JNQ race had finished up. Excitedly, we ran down to the spot where our new teammates had gathered. Thirty six athletes from Oregon and Washington, including the two of us from Teacup, were representing the Pacific Northwest at Junior Nationals, hosted by Auburn Ski Club at Donner Summit, California. 

The U-16 girls house was deemed “the food house” where the entire team would eat dinner together. Once all thirty six skiers arrived on the first night, the coveted PNSA race suits were handed out, along with the super cool new team jackets. The following day, we skied for the first time at the venue, team jackets on, getting a look at one of the hardest race courses we’d seen. Two days away from the interval start classic race, Beni and I barely had time to acclimatize to being at 7200 feet. The 5k course had multiple long and steep uphills, the hardest called Pink Lung Hill. It also had a fun downhill with a sharp right turn at the bottom. Following the downhill was one final climb before the final stretch, which contained a wide hairpin turn to the finish line. 

Beni placed 44th in the classic race. He said that he felt good, having passed two other racers from other regions. In my own race, the wax was a little too sticky, making me have to stomp my way up some of the hills to get the snow off. Thankfully, the stickiness went away and I could glide to the finish, coming in 46th place. Our lungs burned long after our races were done; I don’t think I’ve ever breathed that hard in my life!

After another training day, the skate sprints got started. The course was 1.3k and felt shorter than a usual sprint. It started with a fast downhill, followed by two tough climbs then the finish. At this point, it wasn’t just the altitude making it hard to catch a breath. Beni had gotten sick. “During the skate race I was barely breathing the whole time,” he claimed. However, Ben still did well, with a finish of 47th place. A bit later on, the girls’ races started. Even with choppy snow, I took the best lines and left everything on the course. Like Beni, I also finished 47th.

The entire PNSA team had great performances all around, with seven athletes finishing in the top five and others with career best races. Trip leader Jeff Hashimoto said, “This has to be one of the most successful days in PNSA history!”

The skate mass start and classic relay events were cancelled due to COVID-19. It was a bummer for everyone. However, the points from the 2 earlier race days led to PNSA winning the small division award! We had more points than all of the other small regions combined and we beat the Midwest, which is a large division.

There is no experience quite like skiing at Junior Nationals and being a part of such a big yet close-knit team. All of the coaches, athletes, wax-techs, and parents made this trip so successful and fun. Also, thank you to the Teacup community, in supporting the training for junior athletes. None of this would be possible without Harold’s great grooming, awesome coaching from Karl and Kelly, and support from the Teacup Board and members. I look forward to seeing everyone on the Mountain!