Wow, what a great week this one was. Sorry it has taken me a couple of weeks to get to this. I have been really swamped with year end ski team stuff, and in preparing for my first 100 miler of the season; The Moab 100. So; here is a brief synopsis of the Junior National Ski Championships (Truckee, CA; March 5 – March 15, 2009) from my perspective. This was my 7th XC Ski Junior Nationals; (4 as an athlete) and my 3rd as a coach. The XC Ski Junior National Championships is a competition with the best 200 junior male and 200 junior female skiers from across the country competing in four races over 6 days. There are 10 divisions from Alaska to New England and everywhere in between. This one will go down as the best, most fun, most fulfilling and best yet. The weather was super, with five feet of snow falling over the three days prior to our arrival. The race organizers did a fantastic job with the courses, the grooming, and the logistics. The kids from our division (43 athletes and 15 coaches) skied well. There were several top results from skiers from Summit, Vail, Steamboat, and Durango; however, I will highlight the top results from the lone athlete from my Crested Butte team; Hannah Smith. Last season, Hannah skied at the Junior Nationals in Anchorage, and placed between 15th and 30th in those races. This year she was looking to improve. Hannah skied to the top results from the Rocky Mountain Division, and led the way with all ‘top 5’s. The skate sprint competition she placed 5th. The 5 km skate mass start race: SHE WON!!! JUNIOR NATIONAL CHAMPION!!!!!. The 5 km interval start classic race she was a very close 4th, and she anchored the relay team to a 3rd place result. These results were superb; and proved she can be one of the best in the country for years to come. Way to go Smith!
As for the trip as a whole: it is a great time for skiers and coaches from across the country to get together, socialize, trade ideas, and learn from each other. From a coaching standpoint; I love it, I can look to the ‘old guard’ coaches, see their stability and emotional control, and really learn how to coach kids better. I also learn new ways for waxing, wax testing, ski care, etc. The Durango Coach Josh Dalley and I were fortunate enough to room together and that meant we could easily plan on getting in a few runs which we did. We ran on snowshoe trails, the alpine mountain snowcat tracks, and the Pacific Crest Trail. The running in the morning was great (rock hard ice and snow; and we did not breakthrough). I came away from the trip in good shape, but very tired emotionally and physically. I am still a trifle ‘beat-up’ with sore hips; broken down feet, and a general fatigue. However, the motivational up-lift I got from seeing these kids test their limits, learn to suffer; and fulfill their goals has really helped me.
The past 12 days since returning from CA I have rested, worked hard on finishing up year end stuff for the ski team, and prepared for this 1st 100 miler of my season: the Moab 100. Stay tuned for updates in the next few hours.