Locals off to Junior Nationals | VailDaily.com

Locals off to Junior Nationals

Chris Freud
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyLocal Nordic skiers, from left to right, Jill Ewing, Haleigh Armstrong, Taylor Shelden, Sylvan Ellefson and Josh Smith (bot pictured are going to Juior Nationals in Northern California next week.

VAIL – Josh Smith is an O.J. No, not that kind of O.J. We’re talking Older Junior.This Tito is not a member of the Jackson Five. And one skier is the equivalent of a walking iPod.With these salient facts out of the way, we give you the Vail Nordic Club’s five entries for next week’s Junior Nationals at the Auburn Ski Club near Truckee, Calif.”It’s been a great year,” team coach Dan Weiland said. “We’ve bumped up our numbers from last year. It’s the best junior cross country skiers in the nation.”

The quintet of Josh Smith (Older Junior) and J1s Sylvan Ellefson, Haleigh Armstrong, Taylor “Tito” Shelden and Jill Ewing qualified though Rocky Mountain Division races this season and will be taking on the best of the nation’s nine other regions.The guys and gals will be busy next week. Monday is an elimination 1-kilometer skate sprint. It’s skate on Wednesday, a classic on Friday and a relay Saturday.Weiland is looking for big things from Smith, who currently is attending CU after graduating from Vail Mountain. Danny-boy doubtless expects the same from the human iPod known as Ellefson.”I’m very excited to see if we can put in some better results,” he said between singing lines from Jefferson Starship’s “We Built this City.” “Last year, my best finish was 18th in classic race. Hopefully, I’ll get some top 5s.”

Armstrong is hoping to bounce back after a rough showing last year because of a knee injury.”We come out every day,” she said. “The coaches have a set schedule which varies between going hard and going easy. It’s actually not too bad. I’ve kind of gotten used to it because I’ve been doing it for three years now.”It will be a new experience for Tito. (By the way, Shelden got his nom du ski when he went to Mexico his freshman year. Taylor in Spanish is Tito.) “It’s whole different thing,” Shelden said. “We’ve trained for this week. I’ve been sleeping, eating right and everything.”

By going to California, Ewing becomes the first Eagle Valley athlete to make Junior Nationals in Nordic.”I think my dad’s pretty excited,” Ewing said. “I just want to do well. It’s going to be a really good experience to go.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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