JHSC Club and Community Nordic Update
Happenings of the JHSC Nordic Program, Trail Creek Nordic Center, and Local Nordic Community
Photo courtesy of Sofia Jaramillo
Welcome to the March Edition of “What’s Going On” for the 2021-2022 season!
All 52 Lollipoppers are making big improvements in their Nordic skiing! While most of the kiddos attend just one of the three days that the program is offered, several kids attend two sessions, and one intrepid young man attends all three days each week! We are fortunate in having so many capable coaches and volunteers who work with the kiddos and me and bring their coaching, parenting, teaching, and skiing skill sets to help the kids: Bill and Amelia Mayer, Stephanie Williams, Rody Hagan, Dennis Oney, and of course, Ann Makley! Thanks to all of you!
Because our new Prinoth Husky is able to condition and recondition our snowpack, track quality for both skate and classic has remained incredibly high all season—consistent, fast, and firm, which has really enabled the Lollipopppers to work on their double-poling and experience the results of proper poling in their skiing. When a new skier is able to feel the effect of a technique for themselves, it's a simple matter to get them to use it and continue to develop it. "Poles only" exercises show them how effective their arms can be, so then when they get to use the poles AND their skis, they really take off. This has made our transition to skating MUCH more effective!
We had two young men, Seppi Sehnert and Mitch Cavallaro, who entered the races at the IMD JNQ in the U10 division. Both of these boys did amazingly well. One even had a podium finish, and they were both great ambassadors to the rest of the team, sharing their experiences and encouraging the others to try a race sometime. We don't focus on winning a race at this age! Instead, we focus on being brave, entering, trying something exciting and new, and facing a personal challenge of skiing a particular distance all on their own, without stopping. Challenge met!
Coach Kathy and the Lollipopper Gang
The Teewinots have been charging ahead all month with their Monday and Wednesday schedule. Up to 41 skiers have been keeping Coach Libby and crew very busy, teaching the basics of Nordic skiing and having a lot of fun along the way. A recent Nordic Olympics practice session went as follows:
We were lucky to have Pete Karns, Martin Hagen and Erich Wilbrecht join us for a fun afternoon of “Olympic” games, including bocce ball curling, 3-legged ski races, kick sled races and 2-person bobsled. The kids were excited and also very respectful, and I think it’s safe to say that Pete, Martin and Erich had fun too. It was certainly a magical sharing of the love and fun of Nordic skiing. Pete’s grandson Christopher Karns is on the Teewinot Team, and he was especially proud to have his grandfather join.
After the “events” concluded, we stayed warm with a lap up to the Sky Stadium and down Gut Flop. The kids had a great time learning more about the Olympics, Biathlon and the "old days" of Trail Creek and the old Biathlon range. The kids were all awarded some crazy USA shades and gold medals. A fun day for sure, and hopefully a tradition to continue in future seasons.
What a great experience for kids and coaches alike!
The Osito program is firing on all cylinders with seven of the 'little bears' taking part in their first race ever, many of the group making it down their first descents of classics like Gutflop and Faceplant, and with 100% of the crew having a great time playing, exploring, and snacking out at Trail Creek!
Kids are looking forward to making it farther and farther out at Trail Creek, incorporating some skating, and going on adventure skis before the season ends. Sunsets, smiles, striding, and the occasional break for a Tik-Tok dance (follow @coombsoutdoors to see their antics) are an average day for this crew!
Coaches both frequent and occasional: Miles, Sahir, Connor, Vanessa, Maggie and Laura.
February was an excellent month for the Development Team. The lack of new snow didn’t slow the athletes down a bit. Off-trail adventures kept us busy and, with the firmer snow, we were able to cruise all over Trail Creek in one afternoon. We saw several dozen elk on one tour and, of course, we also spotted some moose.
Coach Mark led us on a very adventurous tour up and down steep hills and over logs and deadfall. The kids showed off their skills and had a blast. Back on the trail with skate skis, we worked on technique and endurance. An obstacle course relay helped us hone our agility skills before the Johnny Curtis Memorial race. A record fourteen Devos raced in the different classes and distances, making the coaches very proud.
The future is bright for this crew! March will bring more fun for the Devos. The traditional donut relay is scheduled for a nice day in early March. A scavenger hunt, BB gun Biathlon, and lots of Nordic X laps are also in our future. Training together for almost four months now, the group is growing as a team and exemplifying the values we have been discussing all season. Commitment, sportsmanship, and teamwork are displayed at each practice as we challenge ourselves with relays and games.
Development Team Head Coach
The Junior Nordic Team has been hard at work out at Trail Creek. We had several athletes compete here at home during the Bank of Jackson Hole's Johnny Curtis Memorial race. Athletes competed hard in the classic sprint race on Friday and the mass start skate race on Saturday. They used their home course advantage to lay down some impressive results and, most importantly, gain race experience.
The cold dry conditions have made for some fast skiing at Trail Creek during the month of February. Athletes have been really excited about the Nordic X course that was recently built/groomed thanks to the recent snowfall and our amazing groomer!
Junior Nordic Team
Junior Nordic Team Head Coach
Over the past month, the Prep/Comp Team has been sharpening speed and tactics for the final Junior National Qualifiers of the season. We first headed to West Yellowstone, MT, for a weekend of cold temps and fast skiing. Race starts were delayed due to the low temperatures, but our skiers were prepared with lots of layers and good warm up routines. On the chilly skate sprint day, we advanced many athletes through to the finals, with lots of valuable practice in pacing and race tactics throughout. Day two of this qualifier was an individual classic, where the blue team posted strong finishes across the board.
Following the West Yellowstone qualifier, we turned our attention to our home trails where the third and final IMD qualifier took place, the Johnny Curtis Memorial JNQ. We took the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with our home course and did many laps of the 2.5k distance loop and the 1.5k classic sprint loop. The hard work put in by all of our great volunteers and staff made it a great race weekend, and a valuable experience for our team to host nearly 500 racers from across the west. Our team showed impressive strength and toughness throughout the weekend, supported by friends and family on our home course. In the 1.5k classic sprint, JHSC had podium finishes by Kate Brigham (3rd, U18/U20 women) and Mason Wheeler (1st, U18/U20 men). Day two of competition was a skate mass start, featuring 4 laps of the 2.5k course for the U18/U20 racers and 2 laps for the U16's. Lena Poduska placed 2nd in the U16 women's race, while Lucas Wilmot and Nate Streubel placed 2nd and 3rd in the U16 men's race. It was a great day for our team on a tough course, and our athletes took on the challenge and showed awesome teamwork, skiing with teammates, and putting all of their hard work in training to use.
Many of our athletes will be traveling to Pinedale, WY the last weekend of February to compete at the Wyoming High School State Championships. The following week, 13 JHSC athletes are attending Junior Nationals in Minneapolis, MN, where they will race in two distance races, a sprint, and a mixed team relay over the course of the championships. At practice, we are turning our focus to top-end speed, and getting stoked for our championship events!
Comp Team Coach
It's been a fantastic month to be a Jackson Hole Ski Club Nordic athlete! Our programs have been going full gas this month and things have been busy across the board. All our programs—including Lollipoppers, Teewinots, Devos, Ositos, Juniors, Prep, Comp, High School, Masters, and Winter Sports—have been practicing this month with our 30+ coaches. We have seen huge participation from every single team in practice and races, as anyone who has been out at Trail Creek on a weekday afternoon can attest.
The major highlight this month was the Bank of Jackson Hole Johnny Curtis Memorial JNQ, which attracted hundreds of athletes from across the West. The races were a fantastic advertisement for the Club, which set a number of records and markers for our organization. We had 450 racers each day and the races were our first to have FIS (International Ski Federation) designation, which cast an examining spotlight on our ability to pull off a big event.
The races received only positive feedback from coaches and athletes alike, and everyone was left wanting to come back to our beautiful valley. More importantly, 85 athletes representing every single youth team from our program participated, which was another record for our Club. While many of our athletes gained valuable exposure and experience at big ski races, this large event also allowed our elite skiers an opportunity to shine on home courses. After the dust settled we had 13 athletes qualify for Junior Nationals to represent Intermountain in Minneapolis next month. This number is another record for our program, besting our previous mark of 10 athletes. From the grassroots to the elite, every JHSC skier is improving and pushing themselves to be better people!
Now we look to championship season where we will have athletes competing in Intermountain Youth Championships in McCall, High School State Championships in Pinedale, Western Club Championships in Boise, Junior National Championships in Minneapolis, and Super Tour Championships in Whistler BC in the month of March. We will have coaches at all those events, as well as OPA Cup finals in Italy where Jon Filardo will wax for the US Ski Team. JHSC is a nationally competitive program and the success of the USST at the Olympics and Junior World Championships shows that we are in the mix internationally as well.
With Nordic skiing there is always room for improvement and another step up and the Jackson Hole Ski Club can facilitate the ambitions at all levels, from learning how to skate ski, making it to Sam the Truck for the first time, making it to Junior Nationals, or competing internationally. I am proud of every single athlete in the program from the tiniest Lollipopper to the strongest racer on the national circuit!
Head Coach and Nordic Program Director
This month one of our up and coming skiers, Lena Poduska has agreed to be our featured athlete. If you’ve been following the racing this winter, while senior Kate Brigham has been a top finisher, just behind her in most of the races has been Lena. With quite a few years of IMD racing ahead of her, Lena is poised to jump into the top female leadership position in the years ahead. Enjoy her interview:
Do you remember when you started skiing?
I started to Nordic ski when I was around two years old when my family would visit West Yellowstone for Thanksgiving break.
Do your mom and dad Nordic ski?
Yes, my parents like to get out on the trails whenever they can.
Assuming you can beat them, do you remember how old you were the first time you beat your mom or your dad in a race?
Several years ago my parents mentioned that they were struggling to keep up with me on our family Nordic skis.
At what age did you start skiing with the Jackson Hole Ski Club program?
I started to ski with the Ski Club when I was in second grade or seven years old.
What grade are you in now?
I am currently in 9th grade at Jackson Hole High School.
Are you involved in any other sports?
I enjoy mountain biking for fun, and in the fall I like to run cross country; in the winter I like to alpine ski whenever I can.
What are your Nordic goals for this year?
My goals are to do well at Junior Nationals and state, as well as go my hardest and feel like I did my best after every race.
What has been the high point of your year so far?
A high point for me would have to be making it to nationals, and all the races this season when I have gone my hardest and made myself proud.
Congratulations on going to Nationals! Have you ever gone before?
I have never been to Nationals before.
Do you prefer skate or classic skiing and why?
Although I enjoy both, I prefer skate skiing more because it is faster and more fun.
What was your favorite race this year?
My favorite race was the IMD opener because I was able to see my potential for the first time this season.
I know it is a few years away, but do you have any college and career plans for after high school?
I am not quite sure what I would like to do as a profession after high school and college, but I would like to ski in college and possibly after.
Do you think the chance to Nordic ski will influence where you go for schooling after high school?
Yes, because I would really like to ski after high school.
What is your favorite memory of skiing for JHSC or at Trail Creek?
My favorite memory at Trail Creek is when I was a Devo and we did an adventure ski to a wall and everyone jumped off into the snow at the same time.
What has been the biggest challenge of your Nordic skiing experiences so far?
My biggest challenge has been trying to balance school, family, friends, and training without getting burnt out.
In a decade from now do you see yourself living in a place where you can Nordic ski?
I hope so, but if not I would like to be able to visit a place where I will be able to ski.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with the Nordic community?
I think that the Nordic team and community is super fun and energetic, making it the best way to grow and the best people to be around.
Thanks so much for taking time for us, Lena, and best of luck in the upcoming National Championships. I know many people will enjoy following your results this year and in years to come!
As detailed above there have been two Intermountain Division Junior National Qualifiers since the last newsletter. January 29th and 30th was JNQ #2 in West Yellowstone, and February 11th and 12th was JNQ #3 here at Trail Creek. Full results for each of these races are available at the following links: JNQ #2 JNQ #3. More detailed results of our JNQ #3 can be viewed on the February 13th Grooming Report and on the Nordic Race Results page.
In Wyoming High School skiing, our February 11th and 12th race functioned as one of the races, with the other being February 4th and 5th in Lander. As this newsletter is being posted, the state championships are ongoing in Pinedale. Results for both Lander and Pinedale are available on the High Plains Nordic page.
Masters’ races were held in Pinedale and Alta this month, although results were not available online. Quite a few locals ventured to the Boulder Mountain Tour on February 4th with results for that race here. Finally, as this newsletter is being posted, several area skiers are competing in the American Birkie in Hayward, WI. You can follow along on the event website.
While February seemed like somewhat of a desert here at Trail Creek, when the time came to publish the Snowy Cabin Grooming Report, it looks like we’re somewhere in the middle of snow years for the past decade. Thankfully, a very robust snow cycle in December got our base in good condition, and the combination of stable temps plus our new Husky’s amazing abilities have allowed us to have some very nice skiing this winter.
The big event of the month and the year was our JNQ Qualifier which, as mentioned above, was the biggest race ever at Trail Creek. A huge Nordic community outpouring of support allowed our races to proceed like a well oil machine. Thanks to all who helped, raced, or perhaps missed a ski session in support of the races!
Our beloved critters are still making the rounds as winter deepens at Trail Creek. The squirrel population seems a bit down this year; it looks like we have about a dozen shy elk that cross our trails most nights; and we probably have over a dozen moose calling Trail Creek home. Coach Kathy and her band of Lollipoppers had a close encounter with a dozen moose on a recent practice day. You can read the fascinating account in the February 17th Grooming Report.
Looking ahead, things will remain busy through the first half of the month. The masters’ program has wrapped up for the year, but the rest of the JHSC programs continue until the middle of March. Grooming will continue until March 31st, dependent upon snow, of course.
After the state championships wrap up this weekend (February 25th and 26th) many of our IMD skiers won’t have much of a break, as 13 will be off to the Junior Nordic National Championships March 6-12 in Minneapolis, MN. There were no national championships last year because of the pandemic, so it will be a great opportunity for our racers to see how they fare in the national spotlight. It is hoped there will be streaming opportunities online.
In late February and March, the IMD Youth Championships are February 26th and 27th in McCall, ID, the West Yellowstone Rendezvous is March 5th, the IMD Western Club Championships are March 12th and 13th in Boise, ID, the Western Region Championships are March 10-13 in Soldier Hollow, UT, the Birkebeiner in Norway is March 19th, the Cross Country Spring Series is March 25-28 in Sun Valley and, finally, our very own Pole Pedal Paddle is here in Jackson Hole on March 26th. Another very busy month!
By clicking on this link, you can go directly to the calendar below with active links for most races.
Thanks so much to the skiers and sponsors who make this all possible, with an extra special thanks to our season pass holders!
Dave Adams, Alimanestianu Family, Bitzer Family, Brigham Family, Lachlan Brown, Lorie Cahn, Callaghan Family, Chereskin Family, Broughton Coburn, Curtis-Adams Family, Arielle D’Arge, June Darin, Davis-Abraham Family, Jennifer Durning, Gingery Family, Caroline Girling, Bob TC Gordon, Gross Family, Ann Harvey, Hatcher Family, Doug Henderson, Cynthia Hogan, Alexander Hong, Maggie Hunt, Jackson Hole High School, Johnson Family, Klomparens Family, Koch/Nyrop Family, Kohlhardt Family, Gordon Lange, Lee-Clegg Family, Nancy Leon, Lovett Family, Mason Lynch, Ellison Mackay, MacLeod Family, MacWilliams Family, Jerome Mage, Maria Mahood, Ann Makley, Clara McGhee, Kelly Milligan, Lars Moller, Moss Family, Mullholland Family, O’Brien Family, Olsson Family, Peck Family, Wayne Petsch, Pruzan Family, Chris Sebald, Sehnert Family, Sheafor Family, Springer Family, Carson Stanwood, Jensey Stitt, Streubal Family, Avery Sullivan, Brian Van Hatten, Randall Wade, Jocelyn Wasson, Boden Welch, Marylee White, Henry Williams, Chris Wimberg, Wiswell Family, Axel Wogoman, Wolf Family, and the Yeo Family.
Thanks to our amazing staff!
Will Wicherski, Jon Filardo, Luna Wasson, Ben Morley, George Cartwright, Johnny Springer, Tyra (JT) Wynn, Rob Murphy, Andy Cavallaro, Connor Phillips, Matt Wiseman, Mark Newcomb, Libby Hall, Lizzie Johnson, Lauri Harris, Kirsys Campbell, Kathy Neiley, Miles Yazzalino, Ann Makley, and Rody Hagen.
Thank you to the multitude of youth athletes, for whom this program is designed and would be impossible without their dedication and support!
A special thanks to Jackson Hole Nordic for being a strong supporter of our programs.