JHSC Club and Community Nordic Update

JHSC Club and Community Nordic Update

Happenings of the JHSC Nordic Program, Trail Creek Nordic Center, and Local Nordic Community

Welcome to the December 13th edition of “What’s Going On!”  Read on for the scoop of the upcoming  2019-2020 season . . .

If you’re not one of the department heads, or Julie who knows everything, you might wonder how all the different programs relate in our wonderful organization.  Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club has four major foci which are Alpine, Snowboard, Freeride, and Nordic.  For this publication the focus will be only on Nordic. 

The Nordic program is headed by Ben Morley and has six teams.  Starting from the youngest to the oldest we have Lollipopper, Teewinot, Development (or Devo), Junior, and Prep and Competition (Comp).  Prep and Comp are both for high school students, although the Comp skiers have a higher level of commitment.

The diagram below shows this structure, along with all of the coaches involved in the various levels.  Clear as mud wouldn’t you say?!

Lollipopper Team

Lollipoppers (recommended for kindergarten and 1st grade) start their season on January 6 with a Monday and a Wednesday group.  Coach Kathy is once again at the helm, looking forward to another great year.  She is happy to report that the picture (in the image below) of one of her Lollipoppers from last year, Margaret Adamson, has become the official image for the JH Nordic 2020 buff.


Coach Kathy Neily, Lollipopper Head Coach

Teewinot Team

Coach Sevi is excited to be heading up the Teewinots this year, which is ideal for grades 2-3.  They too begin practice on January 6th with Monday and Wednesday practices.


Sevi Hagen, Teewinot Head Coach

Devo Team

With the first few weeks of skiing underway at Trail Creek, the Development Team athletes have been exploring the trails, focusing on fundamental body position, weight transfer and keeping things light and fun with some agility work and games. With a roster of 29 athletes, the Development Team is now the largest team in the Nordic program. Special thanks goes out to head coach Rob Murphy and assistant coaches Will Wicherski and Mark Newcomb for keeping the athletes focused, attentive and engaged. The future is bright for the JHSC Nordic program!


Rob Murphy, Development Team Head Coach

Junior Team

The Junior Team has been enjoying some awesome on-snow skiing since Thanksgiving. We just got back from West Yellowstone, MT where Alyosha Billamoria, Ellie Wheeler, and Will Putnam all skied at the Rendezvous Trail system in mid-winter conditions. The past few weeks we have been out at Trail Creek where Steve the groomer has done an excellent job maintaining the trails so that we can hold our practices on snow. The juniors have been working on getting their "ski legs" back under them and working on fundamental body positions and movements for both skate and classic techniques. We have been doing most of our training on the Field Loops, Woolsey Woods, and Homesite. We have seen some phenomenal improvements from the athlete’s comfort ability on skis, spanning from first-time Nordic skiers to long-time participants in the Nordic program. We look forward to the next week where we will add in some distance work exploring the further out trail systems, and add in a time trial on the Woolsey Woods loop.


Calvin Wight, Junior Nordic Ski Team Head Coach

Prep/Comp Teams       

With less than ideal conditions on the Rendezvous ski trails in West Yellowstone, the Prep and Comp Teams made the most out skiing on the 12km plateau forest service road above town. 30 minutes of driving each direction for two training sessions per day meant the athletes had to manage their recovery time such that they could still meet their training goals. Despite the early season conditions, the quality of training, focus, and stoke to be on snow made for an all-time West Yellowstone training camp. Athletes logged 15 to 30 hours, mostly on skis with some roller skiing and some running. Evening team meeting focus topics included nutrition talks, seasonal goal setting, mind-set discussions, technique video review and seasonal race planning. By the end of the week with the recent snow storm,  the 27 Prep and Comp Team athletes, 3 Junior athletes and 5 coaches were skiing on the Rendezvous ski trails in town.

With the West Yellowstone camp in the books, athletes are continuing to focus on technique development, transitioning from general strength to ski specific strength workouts, honing in on finding speed on skis, and remaining mindful of getting the required rest and recovery as early season races are approaching. Some of the athletes raced a 5km skate and classic relay last weekend at the first High School race in Casper. This weekend Junior, Prep and Comp team athletes will travel to Sun Valley for the first Super Tour race of the season. This year, the Sun Valley Super Tour serves as an Intermountain Opener before the first Junior National Qualifier in Jackson on January 17th and 18th. Comp Team athlete Elijah Weenig will be using the Super Tour race as a means of earning some FIS points in preparation for U.S. Nationals in Houghton, Michigan during the first week of January. Elijah has an opportunity to pre-qualify for Junior Nationals and the U18 Championships held in Sweden later in the season. Coach Jon Filardo will be joining Elijah for his first Nationals experience.


Ben Morley, Head Coach

Looking at a very impressive roster of JHSC Nordic athletes this year, one of our standouts is senior Elijah Weenig.  He has been doing big things and is most assuredly going to go far.  He agreed to answer some questions about what is going on in his life below:

Do you remember when you started skiing?

I don’t remember the first time I ever skied but I remember I joined the Ski Club in 4th grade as a Teewinot. My best friend, Sam Johnson, had done the year before and encouraged me to join as well. It was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed making friends in the club, learning from awesome coaches, and challenging myself to grow.

Do your mom and dad Nordic ski?

Yes, but they only ski recreationally, and they cheer me on while I race. They've come to value Nordic skiing a lot and are excited that three of my younger siblings are now following my tracks on Nordic skis.

Assuming you can beat him, do you remember how old you were the first time you beat your dad in a race?

I have always been able to beat him. :) Just kidding. We've usually been on the same team and never raced against one another. Maybe this spring, though, we'll finally compete against each other, 2020 PolePedalPaddle- Men Individual category.

What grade are you in now?

I am 17 and I am a senior at Jackson Hole High School. This is my second year competing as a U18 athlete and fourth year competing Varsity.

How many times have you gone to the national championships?

I have gone to Junior Nationals the last two years. The first for me was 2018 on the Olympic course at Soldier Hollow, UT; the second was 2019, Anchorage, AK.

Have you had any special awards from Intermountain Division Nordic?

Yes.  2018 at Junior Nationals I was named IMD Rookie of the Year, and in 2019 I was awarded IMD Most Improved Skier.

What are your Nordic goals for this year?

I plan to compete at U.S. Nationals in Houghton, MI over 2020 New Year's holiday in hopes of qualifying to race at the U18 Scandinavian Cup in Sweden to represent the U.S. I want to meet several college coaches while I am in Houghton to talk about racing for their schools. I want to podium again at USSA Junior Nationals in March in Truckee CA, and win 2020 Wyoming State Champs with the JHHS team again.

What are your college and career plans for after high school?

I plan to serve a two-year volunteer mission for the Church of Jesus Christ L.D.S., and then go to college somewhere.  I am still undecided on a college I will attend, and my major is undecided.  I'd consider going anywhere.

Are you planning on participating in Nordic skiing or other athletics in college?

Yes, I want to ski for a college team and hopefully get a scholarship for racing.

What is your favorite memory of skiing for JHSC or at Trail Creek?

For the club I would say going to Park City and Moab last June for a week training camp was one of my favorite times. It was really cool to go somewhere new and explore and have fun and train hard all at the same time.

Trail Creek Nordic Center is an amazing venue; I feel very fortunate to have it as my home course. My favorite trail is Gutflop.

What has been the biggest challenge of your Nordic skiing experiences so far?

Probably learning how to balance a demanding training schedule (4+ days/week, summer and winter) and everything else in life: school, family, friends, work, free skiing, rest/recovery, church service, mountain bike racing.

In a decade from now do you see yourself living in a place where you can Nordic ski?

Definitely. I think growing up in Jackson, I've learned to appreciate this place where I live.  I think it would be hard for me to live somewhere I don’t have access to the places we do in the Tetons.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with the Nordic community?

I would like to give a BIG THANKS to the whole Nordic community for being really supportive, especially my parents, coaches, friends, club staff and volunteers, club sponsors and donors.


Elijah Weenig

Thank you Elijah for being the leader that you have been in the JHSC Nordic program.  The future is nothing but bright for you and it will be great to watch your path going forward.

A really good bit of news in the past year for the JHSC Nordic program was that one of the bright spots in our past was willing to return to the organization once again, providing her talents for our mission of making our youth the best they can be.  It’s awesome to have Ali Sehnert with us again!  Here is what she had to say . . .

Where did you grow up and where did you ski growing up?

I grew up in Alaska, first on Adak Island, and then we moved to Fairbanks. I started skiing at Birch Hill Ski Area in Fairbanks, AK.  I came to Nordic skiing and sport in general because my friends were doing it.  We were not a Nordic or skiing family really.

At what age did you start skiing?

I started skiing in middle school and started racing in HS. I absolutely fell in love with the sport as a freshman in HS. I do remember my folks waking me up as a child and taking us skiing on full moon nights out on Adak, which was certainly a memorable experience - but not very impactful in terms of the actual skiing.

What is your history of Nordic skiing up to this point in your life?

I competed in HS and was an AK State Champion, an AK Besh cup winner, had multiple top 10 at JNs, along with a few podium relay teams at JNs.  I was included in the (then) US Development team after my second year as a J2 (U16.)  I received a scholarship to ski for University of Colorado Boulder, raced for four years and went to one NCAA Championships.  After college, I was ready for a break from racing - moved to Winter Park, CO and started coaching, working with the local HS Program.  I was in Winter Park about 8 months. I then moved to Sun Valley, ID to coach and worked their as the Asst Nordic Program Director for four years, after which I moved to Jackson and became the Nordic Director for JHSC.  I was the Nordic Director for nine years and then it was time to take a break from it and we were able to start a family.  During my time away from JHSC, I helped open and get Turpin Meadow Ranch going as the first General Manager.

Who is in your family and does your family ski?

We are a skiing family.  My husband (Sam) and our two boys (Seppi - 4.5 and Stanley 3) all enjoy skiing, both Alpine and Nordic.  My husband worked at JHMR as an instructor and a backcountry guide, and worked as a heli ski guide up in AK with Alaska Rendezvous Guides.  My grandmother would be happy to include that I am Scandinavian - so of course we ski. ;)

Do you have any memorable races from your high school or college days?

Turns out I was pretty competitive once I started racing, so I loved most race days.  Relays were certainly a favorite, as I like to help my teammates and crush the other team.  My senior year in HS we won the AK State Championship by a record amount of time. 

Where do you like to ski when you aren’t at Trail Creek?

My absolute favorite place to ski is where I really learned - Birch Hill in Fairbanks, AK.  But in town here, I also love a good slog up Cache Creek since we live right near there, and skiing out at Turpin Meadow Ranch is always a fun adventure!

Have you ever coached before working for JHSC?

Yes - I have coached for Middle Park High School, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, and done some volunteer work with Intermountain Nordic Team and the US Ski Team.

You are a return JHSC employee.  What was your first stint like?

I feel fortunate to be returning to JHSC as a coach. I initially came to Jackson to run the Nordic Program, and it is wonderful to see how the program has evolved over the past 15 years or so. There are still some similar hurdles to the ones that I was dealing with 6 years ago when I left - but there have also been some tremendous changes and growth and it is wonderful to see.  I have worked with a lot of the current coaching staff before, whether coaching side by side with them, or working as a coach/athlete with each other.  It is wonderful to see such great people working with the kids - the future of the program.

What is your educational background?

I received my bachelors from the University of Colorado Boulder with a double major in Kinesiology and Fine Arts.

Do you have other work for the off season?

I also work part time as a bookkeeper for a family in town.

How often do you ski now?

Now that I am coaching again, I hope to be skiing 5 days a week, with a mix between Nordic and Alpine. The past few years, when I haven't been coaching and had really little kids, I was lucky to ski 2-3 times a week.

What age group are you coaching now?

I am primarily working with the Comp and Prep Teams.

What or who turned you onto skiing in your youth?

My childhood best friend, Sarah Cook (Applegate), turned me on to skiing in my youth. She and my sister, Karhin Deines (DiGioia), both talked me into running cross country the fall of my freshman year, and I insisted that I wasn't a competitive person. After 2.5 months of running, I realized that maybe in fact I might be the slightest bit .... competitive, and that was the beginning of athletics for me.

What is your favorite memory of skiing for JHSC or at Trail Creek?

That's a toughie - there are a lot of great memories at TC and with JHSC.  Moving to Jackson to become the Nordic Director brought me closer to my husband Sam.  We grew up together in Fairbanks, and were dating during part of the time I was coaching in Sun Valley.  Now we have a great little family together.  So I think that that is the best part of my history with JHSC.

What is the biggest challenge of being a coach?

I think that the hardest and the best part about coaching is helping the athlete break down their own mental barriers.  We all have self-imposed limits of some kind and it is really wonderful to see an athlete gain the confidence to burst right through those barriers.  It is not an easy task, but it sure can be a rewarding one.

Do you have a “coaching philosophy?”

I always have a hard time putting things like this into words.  But basically, I really enjoy helping young adults become confident, capable human beings.  Yes, skiing is the mode that we work with kids, but it is not about athletic performance; the skills that these kids are learning are applicable to every aspect of their lives.  It is pretty amazing to see them implement those lessons. :)

Thanks a million, Ali, for sharing a bit of your history with us!

The High School Team, along with many of the IMD skiers, traveled to Casper Mountain last weekend for the first Wyoming High School Nordic ski meet of the year.  Coach Katie Paddock is once again at the reigns and thankfully sent the great pictures along with race results for Friday’s sprint races, which can be viewed below.  Be sure to look at the tabs on the bottom of the spreadsheet to view the different race results.

Friday Results

Saturday Results

Top 10 male Jackson finishers in Friday’s sprint races include Elijah Weenig (1st), Samuel Johnson (2nd), Will Johnson (5th), and Desmond Concannon (7th).  Top 10 female finishers were Natalie O’Brien (2nd), Birch Klomparens (5th), and Sydney Wilmot (7th).


The Casper Star Tribune printed a couple of great articles about the races on December 6th and December 10th.  The December 10th article also features our very own Elijah Weenig.

The Big Thanksgiving Storm was just what the snow doctors ordered, launching the 2019-2020 Nordic season in a big way.  Groomer Steve Swan is once again hard at it, roaming the trails daily, either on a snow machine or the trusty Pisten Bully.  As of publication date every major trail except for the East Fields has been groomed.  Make sure to purchase your passes.   Your support is what makes this such a special place.

Many thanks go out to the great crew who participated in the November 2nd clean-up day.  The cabin looks great this year, the Pisten Bully tent was pitched again, and many improvements were made on the trails.

One sad event to report this year--Yeti the Grooming Dog, who had served as mascot to the grooming department for 14 years, passed away this fall.  He had developed diabetes and in his weakened condition still decided he could take on a possum, the result being a relatively peaceful passing a couple of days later.  He will be greatly missed.

We are looking forward to a great season and anticipate being able to include the East Fields in our first big event of the year, the Betty Woolsey Classic Race December 28th.

For many years the Moose Chase has been the highlight of many local skiers' race season.  For a variety of reasons the Moose Chase, which would have been on February 15th, is taking the year off, but in its place the JHSC Nordic Carnival is being added.  Click on the preceding link to get the details on this exciting new event; to get a more detailed report of what is going on with the Moose Chase and the Triple Crown you can view this detailed press release.

Upcoming events:

The IMD teams are in Sun Valley this weekend for the Supertour; high school racers are off to Laramie on the 20th and 21st; citizen racers can look forward to Santa’s Relays at the Teton Pines on December 21st and the Betty Woolsey Classic Race on December 28th at Trail Creek.

Click on the image below to go to the full calendar spreadsheet complete with links to most races.  Feel free to send any events that need to be added, or corrections, to jhnordic@gmail.com .

Thanks so much to the members and sponsors who make this all possible!

Brigham Family, Curtis/Adams Family, King Family, Lee/Clegg Family, Leeds Family, Lovett Family, Schilling Family, Springer Family, Stanley Family, Thomas/White Family, Wiswell Family, Heather Budge, Arielle, D’Arge, Roman Goralski, Rachael Harrower, Kristina MacLeod, Finley Miller, Annika Peacock, Parker Smith, Olivia Weenig, Bode Welch, David Adams, Keith Austin, Ann Harvey, Thomas Kohlhardt, Ann Makely, Wayne Petsch, Brian VanHatten.

A special thanks to Jackson Hole Nordic for being a strong supporter of our programs.