JHSC Club and Community Nordic Update
Happenings of the JHSC Nordic Program, Trail Creek Nordic Center, and Local Nordic Community
Welcome to the final edition of “What’s Going On” for the 2019-2020 season!
The end of the season was filled with fun for the Lollipoppers as we were able to get in our final celebration days filled with costumes, games, NordicX and donuts! At the end of February we had hot cocoa picnics at Sam the Truck and in Woolsey Woods. ALL of the kids have become solid classic SKIERS who are capable of going 5km distance - and more! It's been really gratifying to see some of the kids out with their families during this past week, sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport - that's what it is all about at this age!
Along with solid classic skiing, many have made the transition to skating with great success. “That moment” the kids “choose” to do skate vs. classic is when you realize they have made that jump in skill, coordination and confidence and are able to enjoy the greater speed that comes with skating. We generally see that skate transition after two years in Lollipoppers. We look forward to having our first year Lollipoppers back next year, and will be jumping some of our kids up to Teewinots!
Speaking of jumping . . . I’ve seen some attempting 360's on the NordicX . . . exactly what do you feed your kids?? I want some, whatever it is. (Don't blame the donuts, either.)
Lollipopper Awards are as follows:
Improved Girl: Jazzy
Improved Boy: Sam
Spirit Girl: Charlotte
Spirit Boy: Quartie
Improved Girl: Lola
Improved Boy: Knox
Spirit Girl: Gwenn
Sprit Boy: Tell
Coach Kathy Neily
Lollipopper Head Wrangler
In the last couple weeks of practice we had every Teewinot make it all the way out to Suicide hill, and some athletes even completed the Homesite to Suicide loop! This was a huge feat for our athletes and was a goal we had been working up to all season. Some brave kiddos even made the excursion without poles! This was a testament to how far our athletes have come this season as we put their new skills to the test.
The coaches had a blast watching the Teewinots progress throughout the whole season and it was bittersweet to see it come to an end. From start to finish the teamwork and camaraderie only grew. In the first few weeks, the Teewinots began to find their place with the group, and what a pleasure it was to watch them morph into a team. There were bumps and bruises along the way and unfortunately we had not one, but two broken thumbs that fell victim to the same hill. But, true to our group’s strong spirit, both of these athletes bounced back with great enthusiasm!
We were sure to make the last couple of weeks as fun as possible with adventures, "slingshot" skiing with ropes, scavenger hunts, BB gun biathlon/donut relays, and of course laps on the Nordic X course. The Teewinot coaching staff hopes to see our athletes continue with the sport next season!!!
Congratulations to the kids that went above and beyond this year, awards are as follows:
Way to go guys!
Here's a little humorous Haiku from the season:
Teewis full of pep,
nimble bouncing bodies flew.
broken thumbs, just two.
Sevi, Haley, and Derek
Teewinot Head Coach
The Development Team has had a fantastic month of training. A scavenger hunt, obstacle course, donut relay, and adventure skiing have kept us busy. The snow machine-assisted Nordic X day was a hit as always, with the Development Team showing strong teamwork as they waited for their turns. A special shout out to the 360 club—Max, Kane, Cash, Kai, Ellery, and other athletes attempted multiple 360-degree jumps, with different amounts of success.
On the last day of practice during the scavenger hunt, the athletes were encouraged to come up with a finish to this sentence: "I love Nordic skiing because . . . " The answers were great, from two words to a 5-minute performance by one group. Two themes ran through the responses—friends and adventure. This amazing group of 9, 10, and 11-year-olds focused right in on the essence of Nordic skiing, and perhaps the whole meaning of sport.
The Development Team coaches would like to thank the parents, athletes, other coaches, volunteers, and administrative staff for all your help in making this a successful season.
Attendance: Jack Mayer
Runner up: Anna Baxter
Nordic Spirit: Kane Halpin and Hanna Gotham
Runner up: Jack Mayer and Mairi Schilling
Most Improved: Enzo Callari and Tirzah Ellis
Runner up: Norris Brookes and Ellery Schwertfeger
Rob, Mark, Will, and Pipa
Development Team Head Coach
The Junior Team had a great final month of training with adventure skis, crust cruises, road gaps, Nordic X, and costume relays. We have had a great time skiing our local trails, in lieu of our final races of the year.
This year we saw some incredible improvement in strength, efficiency, technique, and endurance amongst the Junior Team members. From longtime Nordic skiers to first year skiers we saw some amazing effort and commitment through the year, from dryland to our final days of Nordic X and jump building. One highlight from our year—during practice we broke up into groups, each covering a different segment of Trail Creek, so that between the Junior Team we covered all of the trails.
Awards for skiers are as follow below:
Nordic Spirit- Scarlett Amdor
Attendance- Torie Linger
Most Improved- Eva Japel
Nordic Spirit- Will Putnam
Attendance- Sam Hutchinson
Most Improved- William Baxter
Congratulations on doing such a fine job!
Thanks again for an awesome season of grooming; we couldn’t do what we do at the club without all of your hard work grooming and caretaking at Trail Creek.
Calvin, Jesse, and George
Junior Nordic Team Head Coach
With the season officially wrapped up, a handful of Prep/Comp athletes have still been taking advantage of spring skiing at Trail Creek. With school canceled and people hunkering down, the athletes are making the best of the circumstances, staying active and continuing to practice on-snow skiing. Even though this is a time of rest and recovery, often we have seen major technical breakthroughs from athletes who continue skiing for pure enjoyment, and then find the sweet spot on their skis.
Spring sports are officially on hold, but as things come back into normalcy we encourage staying active and keeping that competitive edge. Every athlete can benefit from different activities based on their individual training pathway, aspirations, and goals. Ali and Ben will be following up with each athlete individually to discuss the season and how particular training plans best lay the foundation for a summer training routine and continued success into the next season.
Individual training, recommended by the coaches, will commence in mid-May, and regular summer training will kick off at the beginning of June with 7-8 sessions per week. The first summer camp's location will depend on the availability of skiing across the west. If there is insufficient snow the team will make the best out of a solid dry-land camp. Dates will be disclosed when we get a better read on snow levels.
Coaches Ali and Ben
End of Season Comp Awards:
Med Benett (Nordic Spirit): Sam Johnson and Birch Komparens
Skier of the Year: Natalie O'Brien and Elijah Weenig
Most Improved: Des Concannon and Kate Brigham
Best Attendance: Birch Klomparens (154 sessions - year total)
End of Season Prep Awards:
Med Benett (Nordic Spirit): Hailey Stines and Peter Concannon
Skier of the Year: Lucas Wilmot and Aurora Stiles
Most Improved: Cecily Ross and Sam Sinclair
Best Attendance: Aurora Stiles (160 sessions - year total)
Junior Nationals Recap:
Even though races at Junior Nationals were cut short, all 10 JHSC athletes still raced the classic distance and skate races in Truckee California and posted some fantastic results. In the 10k classic Elijah Weenig placed 8th in the stacked U18 class; Bridger Stiles 54th; and Des Concannon 80th. Among U20 boys, Sam Johnson came in 27th. For the 5km U16 boys, Mason Wheeler cracked the top 10 with a 6th place finish; Will Johnson came in 38th; and Mac Wirth 50th. For the 5km U16 girls, Natalie O'Brien cracked the top 10 with an 8th place finish; Kate Brigham finished at 15th; and Aurora Stiles was 36th as a second year U14 racing in the U16 class.
In the skate sprint, Mason Wheeler made it to the A final and narrowly missed a podium finish with a 4th place. Elijah Weenig also made U18 boys A final and unfortunately had a couple crashes, but still finished 6th among the entire field. Kate Brigham made the heats and eventually placed 19th overall in U16s, Aurora Stiles also made the heats, coming in an eventual 20th. For U20 boys Sam Johnson made the heats and finished 27th overall. Mac Wirth qualified for the U16 heats with a strong 16th place after the quarterfinal. Des Concannon came in 41st and just missed making the heats by 2 seconds; Bridger Stiles rounded out the U18 class with a solid 64th in a field of 101 athletes. Natalie O'Brien also narrowly missed the heats, finishing 36th overall for U16 girls. Will Johnson barely missed making the heats by 1 second, thus finishing 31st overall among all U16s.
Based on these two races I'm confident that all athletes would have posted very strong results in the skate mass start and classic relay if JNs wouldn't have been cut short.
This news is hopefully inspiration for our younger athletes and those that didn't quite make the Intermountain Junior National Team. Intermountain placed 3rd overall among 10 divisions. For those athletes that have aspirations to make Junior Nationals in the future, know that we are one of the more competitive divisions in the country and JHSC is at the top of Intermountain; your hard work, effort and results don't go unnoticed, even if you didn't make the team. You would be competitive with many athletes in other divisions that did compete at Nationals. JHSC Nordic is alive and well; let this information be an inspiration for our continued hard work and effort!
Head Coach and Nordic Program Director
Even with a fairly abrupt end to the season and the banquet indefinitely delayed, the Nordic program was fortunate to see the end of the season through regular scheduled programming. The Junior Nationals competition was cut short, but our 10 athletes were still able to compete in the classic distance and skate sprint, with 5 top 10 finishes. The coaches were confident that we could have doubled that number with the podum in reach if the opportunity of the skate distance and classic relay would have commenced. Unfortunately Western Club Championships were also canceled. Regardless, in lieu of what's transpired in the Nordic community, in the sports world and across the country and world, I'm happy to report that kids, parents, and masters are still finding an outlet in their small social groups with the great skiing that continues at Trail Creek.
Prep/Comp athletes can expect information about summer training and summer camps in the coming weeks. Junior athletes can also expect information on the U15 summer IMD camp, likely to be held in Bozeman, during the weekend of June 27th. Ali and I will be reaching out to Junior athletes that will be moving up to the Prep Team next season to provide information on what summer training will look like.
With the 120 plus athletes in the program, it takes a village to not only keep things afloat, but to continually raise the bar as the sport grows, and as the competitive environment within the Intermountain Division, and across the country, continues to rise. Thanks a million all of the coaches, club wide JHSC staff, volunteers, and parents who make this program a reality. Of course this all wouldn't be possible without the partnership we have with Trail Creek Ranch. A big thank you goes out to Muggs, Alex Menolascino, and Rick Knoble for their continued effort of keeping our youth on skis on pristine Nordic terrain. We also can't forget Steve Swan who is out at Trail Creek every single day with the mission of making the best possible tracks for athletes, coaches, and the wider community. The fact that we've been able to keep Trail Creek open and a viable option to get outdoors during these last few weeks has been greatly appreciated by hundreds of local Nordic enthusiasts.
As we look to next season, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.
Check out the below link for photos of the 2019/20 season. Thanks to Wayne Petsch and Adam Wirth for their professional documentation of the program!
Head Coach and Nordic Program Director
It’s always amazing to see the results of past programs reaping benefits in the current time. Ben Morley, Nordic Director, and Kathy Neiley, Lollipopper Head Coach, are both alumni of the program. This month’s featured coach is another alumna, Jessi Knori, who skied in the program as she grew up and is now deeply involved in training the next generation. Below Jessi shares her story:
Where did you grow up and where did you ski growing up?
I grew up skiing at Trail Creek!
At what age did you start skiing?
I was on downhill skis at a young age; however, I didn’t start Nordic skiing until my freshman year in high school.
What is your history of Nordic skiing up to this point in your life?
I skied for JHSC, attended University of Colorado and competed for them, attended U23 Worlds my senior year of college, and now I’m doing it for the fun of it.
Does your family ski?
My mom skis whenever she can, but other than that I’m the only Nordork in the family!
Do you have any memorable races from your high school or college days?
Hmm let’s see—the Valentine’s Day relays in Casper were always one of my favorite races of the season. I loved any races where the conditions were less than ideal—I think it adds another aspect to the already hectic day of racing. Really any time I got to put a racing bib on was the best day ever.
Where do you like to ski when you aren’t at Trail Creek?
The Targhee Trails are one of my favorite. At CU we spent a lot of time on the trails at Devil’s Thumb near Winter Park and those are pretty spectacular as well. As far as race trails go, Anchorage and Fairbanks have some of the coolest tracks I’ve ever skied!
Have you ever coached before working for JHSC?
I coached for a short period at BEA in Bend, OR before starting my architecture job.
What is your educational background?
I have a degree in landscape architecture.
Do you have other work for the off season?
I moved back to Jackson last November and the rest I’m still figuring out!
How often do you ski now?
Daily—if not all day :)
What age group are you coaching now?
I’m coaching the Junior Team (middle schoolers) with Calvin and George!
What or who turned you onto skiing in your youth?
My friend group—they got a bunch of us to join freshman year and it was the greatest decision I could’ve made.
What is your favorite memory of skiing for JHSC or at Trail Creek?
I really hold a special love for Trail Creek—the trails, grooming, and people are a direct representation of why Nordic skiing is such an incredible activity. JHSC cultivated a spectacular group of coaches to help shape the kids who grow into adults through the program.
What is the biggest challenge of being a coach?
I think it is important to remember that a lot of days kids just need an active outlet outside of the classroom—even if they aren’t listening they are hearing and applying it to themselves in their own ways!
Do you have a “coaching philosophy?”
At the end of the day, being a coach is about teaching kids to challenge themselves, trust in themselves, and to lead by example throughout every aspect of the day. When they decide to be done skiing, it’s important that they are also equipped with skills that transfer in life.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with the local Nordic community?
Support the Club—Support Trail Creek! As much as you can—large or small—show up for a race and cheer, join a local race, come on clean-up day. Anything! Trail Creek is a one in a million spot and community and I have it to thank for the person I am today and why I am back in this valley.
Thanks so much for being a coach, Jessi, and sharing your passion with the next generation!
Longtime coach Jon Filardo has been venturing to Europe as a wax expert the past few years as part of the crew that makes international Nordic racing possible. This year has been unusually interesting as Jon is currently healthy, but in quarantine. Below is his report:
Jon Filardo, wax troll in his cave.
Here is a small recap from my trip over to the 2020 World Junior/U23 Championships in Oberwiesental, Germany.
It was another benchmark year as the US took home an unprecedented 4 medals (2 gold; 1 silver; one bronze.) Also unprecedented were the number of top 10 performances, too many to count. There was only one day the US did not have representation at the award ceremony (top 6). For perspective, in 2015 there were two top six performances and maybe a single top ten during the entire event, and that was a very big deal.
All of this happened during a week of the most challenging weather and snow conditions I have ever seen. When we first arrived it was 12C degrees and pouring rain on top of a very thin snowpack—athletes were rollerskiing! Thankfully, it cooled down to about -3 and they were able to blow a lot of man-made snow; then it snowed for real. It also rained and then got sunny; there was wind-blown snow, wet new snow, fog, dirty corn snow, manmade, rain, fresh snow, sun, wind, fog, ice, dry snow, freezing rain, zero degree snow, and wind. This happened basically every day, and usually all of the above would happen between 9 and noon, aka race start. There were times that we stopped testing skis because it was changing too rapidly. Despite the conditions, we were able to deliver quality skis 90% of the time. Through all of this the athletes responded to the conditions, stress and pressure better than I thought possible, and showed a level of resiliency and professionalism that was world class.
What I saw and experienced this year in Europe mirrored almost exactly what happened this year with the JHSC Nordic team. There was a time when we would qualify 3 for Junior Nationals; now it's ten. One podium at a JNQ was a great day; now there are JNQ's where we have a podium in nearly every race. Sure, the results and stats are great through the years, but what goes unseen and unreported with the Junior World team is the same thing that happens here at home. The team's overall energy supports the days and races that don't go as planned. Trust me, there were a lot of smiles at the end of the week, but there were plenty of disappointments to go along with all the success. In the end, every individual disappointment was eclipsed by a teammate’s success, and there were many times an individual disappointment was eclipsed later by their own performance. This is the hardest and most dynamic sport in the world; there will not be success in every race. Both of these teams have proved that if you put in the work and keep believing in yourself and your teammates ultimately you will be a part of something very successful. (emoji crying smiley face)
Hopefully there will be a banquet or Freedom from Quarantine Party and I can share more, but until then . . .
Here are some pictures to try to support the story. Thanks to Steve Fuller of Flying Point Road Photography for sharing his pictures. Some related videos are available on this YouTube link and this Facebook Link.
Conditions when we arrived in Germany. This was a "good" section of the course.
Teams inspecting the course and the new dry wind-blown -3 degree snow on top of +3 wet dirty man-made base! WTF moment for sure.
Julia Kern's bronze medal in the sprint and first of the championships. 5th to 3rd in one hundred meters.
Gus Schumacher's gold medal 10k classic. First individual gold for the US in history.
Best paced race I have ever scene. Luke was 9th, Ben 10th and Johnny 20th.
Girls relay skiing celebrating the silver. Sydney skiied the opening leg and tagged in 3rd. Kendall brought them up to second and they held the position. Novie anchored the fastest leg of the day to pull away from Sweden and came within 4 seconds of gold. Poland and Germany were Dq'd for cutting off 300m and 600m of the course. These girls would have finished in the medals regardless of the disqualifications.
Luke Jager at the start of the relay. It's hard to explain what happened, but basically Luke decimated the field in 3 minutes. For the most part the race for gold was over in about a kilometer. Of course it's not over till it's over but the rest of the team put more time into the field on each leg. I was still too nervous to watch a lot of the race.
Lots of hardware.
While Junior Nationals (detailed above in the Prep/Comp report) were cut short due to the coronavirus, some of the other major races managed to still proceed.
On February 22nd the American Birkebeiner was held in Hayward, WI where more than 10,000 people participated in events up to 55 km. While many locals make the trek to Wisconsin, of special note Coach Rob once again put in a good showing, and former coach Scott Lacy finished fourth! Full results are available here.
The West Yellowstone Rendezvous also pulled off another great race with lots of local participation on March 7th. Scott Lacy placed 2nd in this race and there were many local participants who all did a great job. Results for this race can be viewed here.
Grooming is still happening at Trail Creek! The plan is to keep going nearly to the end of March. While the cabin is closed for the season, and people are encouraged to maintain an appropriate social distance on their outings, user days have been amazingly high for this late in the season.
The Pisten Bully has once again suffered a final drive failure. The manufacturer’s supplier for this component was changed in recent years, which has resulted in sub-standard performance. The final drive is a very complicated piece of engineering, with not only planetary reduction gears, but also brakes all packed into a very compact housing. The latest failing drive only has 368 hours on it, so we are optimistic that it is under warranty and a free replacement will be supplied.
On the brighter side, the Ginzu groomer has been able to keep trails skiing nicely. Weather has been optimal for great spring skiing, with not too warm days where the snow gets just right to ski, followed by cool nights firming things up for the next day.
An unusually small population of squirrels has been out for the past couple of weeks, with a few elk hanging around for the entire season, and our usual cadre of moose enjoying the Nordic trails. Lots of spring birds are showing up, with robins and blue birds making appearances, not to mention quite a few raptors. A small photo gallery of a few of the moose from over the years can be viewed by clicking on the thumbnail below.
The last grooming will be sometime around March 29th or 30th; watch the grooming report to know for sure. Thanks to everyone for a great season! Stay healthy, and let’s look forward to a great season next year!
With the ongoing coronavirus threat, for the near term, events are cancelled or on hold. Coach Ben touched on upcoming training opportunities in the Prep/Comp report above, and coaches will be in touch about dryland training starting up this summer.
Thanks so much to the members and sponsors who make this all possible!
David Adams, Keith Austin, Brigham Family, Heather Budge, Brot Coburn, Janet Conway, Curtis/Adams Family, Arielle D’Arge, Mike Evans, Goodrich Family, Roman Goralski, Gordon/Mick Family, Charlotte Gross, Andy Hall, Rachael Harrower, Ann Harvey, Huntington/Finlay Family, King Family, Thomas Kohlhardt, Lee/Clegg Family, Leeds Family, Lovett Family, Kristina MacLeod, Maria Mahood, Ann Makley, Clara McGee, Finley Miller, O’Brien Family, Annika Peacock, Chris Peck, Wayne Petsch, Pruzan Family, Ratcliff/Henderson Family, Schilling Family, Parker Smith, Springer Family, Stanley Family, Thal Family, Thomas/White Family, Brian Van Hatten, Jocelyn Wasson, Olivia Weenig, Bode Welch, Chris Wimberg, the Wiswell Family, and Patrick Wright.
Thanks to our amazing staff!
Pippa Blau, George Cartwright, Derek Collins, Jon Filardo, Sevi Hagen, Libby Hall, Lauri Harris, Jesse Knori, Haley Mahar, Ann Makley, Ben Morley, Rob Murphy, Kathy Neiley, Mark Newcomb, Bria Riggs, Ali Sehnert, Steve Swan, Will Wicherski, and Calvin Wight.
Thank you to the 131 and counting 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.