Ski & Snowboard Club Vail gets best-ever finish at Junior National Cross-Country Championships | VailDaily.com

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail gets best-ever finish at Junior National Cross-Country Championships

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail had it's best-ever finish in the 2018 Junior National Cross-Country Championships this year, finishing sixth place against every other competitive club of athletes 19 years of in the U.S.

For coach Dan Weiland, it was an achievement in a number of ways, literally, as a high number of athletes scored in the event.

"It's often the case, with other programs, you'll see that one or two people will score all the points for their club," Weiland said. "The depth of our racers was why we did well."

Top results included a double podium in the women's skate race, with 15-year-old Emma Reeder taking second and Haley Brewster, 14, finishing third.

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail started off the championships with eight athletes in the top 13 of the first race.

"That continued in the sprint, which is typically our worst event," Weiland said. "We placed six in the top 20."

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KNOWLEDGE OF THE VENUE

Going into the event, Weiland said the mood for both himself and coach Eric Pepper, as well as their athletes, could be described with one word.

"We were nervous," Weiland said.

Weiland attributed some early nerve calming to strong performances in the opening events, which he said was partially due to the club's good knowledge of the track at Soldier Hollow.

"We know the venue really well, all the little ins and outs of it," he said.

Soldier Hollow, located outside of Salt Lake City, was created for the 2002 Olympics. The venue starts at 5,463 and tops out at 5,882 feet, which plays to the club's strength, being a high-elevation club, Weiland said.

Weiland said Soldier Hollow was in tip-top shape for a race.

"The actual racing was great, they did a great job with the man-made snow," he said.

BIGGEST EVENT OF SEASON

The Junior National Cross Country Championships is the biggest event of the season for many of those who competed well enough throughout the season to make it there.

"This is what every junior athlete in the country is striving for," Weiland said.

Weiland said just getting to the championships is "a full-time gig" for many Nordic skiers.

"We ski through March, and then they get April off, and then we start up again," he said.

The commitment can be as intense for the coaches as it is for the athletes, and it also culminates with the junior championships, Weiland said.

"I maybe got four or five hours of sleep a night, because we were crushing the workload," he said.

Weiland also served as the head coach of the Rocky Mountain division, so he had to attended additional briefings.

"I was a little blown out going into the week, but the fact that we were so good really helped my motivation," he said. "And I think it helped everyone's motivation – we were really, really good from start to finish."

In total, the club notched, three top fives, seven top 10s, and 19 top 20s in individual races across various age groups.

"The amount of depth we had from a results perspective means that what we're doing works," Weiland said. "When you have that many athletes have that much success, I don't think you can argue with the fact that we did it really well."

STRONG START

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes, and coaches as well, found great motivation after a strong opening performance at the 2018 Junior National Cross-Country Championships. In the boys’ opening classic race, Nolan Herzog was fourth for U20s; Collin Wilson was seventh for U18s; and Cam Wolfe was 11th for U18s. On the girls’ side, Bridget Donovan was sixth for U-18s; Haley Brewster was 11th for U16s; Sharon Seabury was 12th for U16s; and Emma Reeder was 13th for U16s.