SSCV’s Ellefson off to Nordic’s motherland |

SSCV’s Ellefson off to Nordic’s motherland

Shauna Farnell
Shane Macomber/Vail DailySylvan Ellefson

Sylvan Ellefson hasn’t been Nordic skiing for very long, but one might say his learning curve is pretty tight.Ellefson, 18, was one of six male skiers from the United States to qualify for the Scandinavian Cup, a prestigious event featuring the best young Nordic skiers in the world, which kicks off in Norway Feb. 7.Ellefson qualified at the Senior Nationals, held on the Olympic course at Soldier Hollow, Utah, earlier this month.”For him to come from two years of skiing to qualify for a trip like that is pretty amazing,” said Dan Weiland, Nordic program director at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, who accompanied Ellefson to Soldier Hollow. “That puts him in as one of the top-five J1s for his age group in the country. He’s definitely got a genetic gift. Our focus this whole season was to have him race well there. Senior Nationals is the biggest cross country event in the country by far. Anyone looking to compete at an Olympic spot is there. It was the Olympic course, but most of the kids don’t realize it. For me, it’s quite a venue. The hills are substantial. Technically, you have to be good.”Ellefson will be the only Colorado representative from the Vail area to travel to the Scandinavian Cup. The other two qualifiers are from Boulder and Aspen. Ellefson knew the Senior Nationals is a prestigious competition, but he didn’t realize that a trip to Norway, where he happens to have many relatives, was going to be the culmination of a great result. The event serves also as a qualifier for the U.S. National Team, and as a springboard for juniors to glide to the next level.

“It’s the first time I’ve been to Senior Nationals,” Ellefson said. “I didn’t even know going to Norway was a (possibility). I found out the first night I had a good result. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s where all my relatives live, so it will sort of be like heading back to the motherland.”Ellefson is well aware of the fact that he’s excelling in a sport that half of his own country scarcely recognizes, much less embraces.”(Nordic skiing) is the national sport over there,” Ellefson said. “That’s what I’m excited about. Even though alpine skiing is awesome, I think maybe (Nordic) isn’t as popular here because we have more chairlifts. It’s typical American.”As to his goals for the Scandinavian Cup, where he’ll be competing in both classic and skate events, Ellefson said that a top-20 result is as realistic a result for which he can hope.”I had a friend who went to the Scandinavian Cup last year. He placed fourth and he’s easily the best skier in the U.S.,” Ellefson said. “I’d be happy with top-20.”

Vail skiers out-skate others in Colorado to top-15After a collision that likely kept him out of the top-five, Ellefson finished seventh Friday in a 900-meter skate sprint in Aspen. “It gets pretty exciting,” said Vail Mountain School, SSCV Nordic coach Karl Hochtl of the sprint course. “It started out with about 200 meters of flat, then it dropped into a couple gnarly downhills, then a steep climb, then a 100-meter shot into the finish area.”Taylor Shelden finished 12th and Brad Bingham 13th in the sprint. On the girls side, Haleigh Armstrong was the top Vail representative with a third-place finish with Jill Ewing in sixth.

“Haleigh had a breakout race,” Hochtl said. For J2 skiers, Lani Bruntz topped the local crew with a 12th-place finish and Janelle Kibler-Silengo was 13th. In the 600-meter sprint for J5s and J6s, Thomas Walsh won his division.Saturday, the Vail Mountain School Nordic ensemble moved to Carbondale, where Shelden had the top result, finishing fourth in the 5-kilometer classic race. Bingham finished ninth in his best result of the season, Armstrong finished sixth, and, having almost fully recovered from an alpine ski racing injury that left her with two broken legs last spring, Courtney Robinson placed 13th.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or Colorado

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