SSCV Nordic skiers enjoy fresh snow, fresh grooming and great ‘kick’ at Maloit Park
First Rocky Mountain Nordic Junior National Qualifier is Dec. 17-18 in Crested Butte
For cross-country skiers, few things surpass a bluebird sky and hard-blue wax conditions. On Thursday morning at Maloit Park, members of Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Nordic ski team — fresh off a Thanksgiving week training camp in West Yellowstone — were thankful to log some Ks on their snowmobile-groomed home course with a simple Swix VR40 application underfoot for grip.
“It was the best classic skiing. Really cold and really good snow,” Will Bentley said of the team’s time at West Yellowstone, the iconic late-November skinny ski meet-up spot. Bentley and several teammates gathered around after finishing an easy classic ski workout Thursday and shared some thoughts on the previous week.
For years, U.S. Ski Team athletes and other sponsored, professional athletes have flocked to West Yellowstone and the Rendezvous Trails because of the area’s dependable early-season snow. Bentley said it was cool to be surrounded by high-level athletes, including the Bridger Ski Foundation elite team, which is coached by four-time Olympian Andy Newell.
Leif McGinley participated in a novice biathlon event during the camp. “I was 9-for-10 on my targets,” he said. Bentley won the U18 division of the annual tune-up 10-kilometer race held on the final day of the Thanksgiving week festivities.
“He beat some really fast boys,” complimented teammate Claire Chimilesky, who was third overall in the U16 5-kilometer race which included club athletes from Park City Ski, Bozeman, Big Sky, West Yellowstone, Crested Butte Nordic and Summit Nordic. SSCV’s Gracen Kennedy won the U16 race.
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When asked to give specific names, Bentley mentioned Steamboat Springs’ Trey Jones, who was a U.S. Junior Nationals runner-up last year and is one of the Rocky Mountain Division’s best skiers, only to have his teammates chide him, shouting, “Named!” Bentley was first out of all the U18 athletes, but also covered the course six seconds faster than Jones, who competed in the U20 race.
Dec. 17-18: Crested Butte (classic individual/freestyle mass start)
Jan. 20-21: Soldier Hollow (freestyle sprint/classic mass start)
Feb. 3-4: Howelsen Hill (classic mass start/freestyle individual)
Feb. 25-26: Aspen (classic sprint/freestyle mass start)
March 4-5: Snow Mountain Ranch Youth festival
March 13-16: Fairbanks, Alaska
Jan. 2-7: Houghton, Michigan
The rust-buster, filled with collegiate and club athletes — a few of whom have World Junior championship starts on their resume — has the group feeling confident going into their first Junior National Qualifier (JNQ) in two weeks in Crested Butte. Prior to that, Bentley said some athletes may compete in the Sun Valley Super Tour stop next weekend. With snow in the forecast overnight, the more pertinent and immediate concern is whether Maloit Park, which will host high school races in January and RMISA FIS/USSS race Feb. 10-11, will be groomed for skiing after the incoming snow falls.
“Yes,” the group chorally responded before finishing their workouts.
“We’ve got (coach) Dan (Weiland) already set up with the snowmobile,” Bentley added.