Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Nordic to nationals |

Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Nordic to nationals

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The games are over, but then again, the games are just beginning.

Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Nordic Team will be well represented at junior nationals next weekend in Preque Isle, Maine.

Max Burnell, Sean Woods, Conor Wallace, Christian Shanley, Lauren Zdechlik and Bridget Moffet are on their way to the Northeast. Aleksei Horn and Anouk Guilmineau are alternates for Maine.

“I think the kids are super-excited regardless,” SSCV coach Karl Hochtl said. “From what I’ve heard the trails are quite difficult. And another challenge could be the weather. We have relatively good weather in terms of skiing and waxing.”

Another interesting issue with junior nationals in Maine is altitude. On first glance, one would think that being at sea level is advantage having trained at 8,000 feet. There will be more oxygen at sea level, but …

“It’s a different challenge,” Hochtl said. “We’ll probably feel like there’s too much oxygen, and perhaps, be sluggish. They need to recognize that they can ski harder, and that they will actually survive it. Up here, if you blow through your lactic threshold, you go anaerobic and it’s over. Down there, you can recover from it and keep going.”

SSCV got warmed up with a junior national qualifier this weekend at Steamboat Springs. Burnell won his second qualifier of the season, conquering the men’s 10K in 29 minutes, 33.9 seconds.

His previous win was a 15K at Durango earlier this season.

“The longer it gets, the better he gets,” Hochtl said.

That was the case in Steamboat. Burnell went out with the leaders in the first 5K and then blew the doors off on the second lap, winning by nearly 30 seconds.

Woods, fresh off two state titles in high school racing, was fourth in a brisk 30:26.3.

SSCV did not taper for this weekend’s races or the CHSAA state meet, preferring to focus on junior nationals. The team will go light on Monday and Tuesday, which means workouts of about 7 or 8K, along with interval and start work.

All of SSCV’s athletes will compete in four events – classic sprint, classic 5K, freestyle 5K and the freestyle relay.

Locals shine at Berkebeiner

CABLE, Wis. – SSCV alumni were also in action at the American Birkebeiner, a major Nordic festival in Wisconsin.

Kevin Hochtl, the younger brother of the SSCV coach, finished second in the men’s elite sprints. Sylvan Ellefson finished 10th out of a massive field in the 50K Birkie skate in 1 hour, 58 minutes, 12.2 seconds. He was second in the men’s 18-24 age group.

Josh Smith was 31st overall (2:04:56.4) and seventh in the men’s 18-24 group.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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