Eight Summit Nordic Ski Club skiers finished in the top 10 in their respective age groups at the recent West Yellowstone Ski Festival, with Henry Trowbridge winning J2 boys and Taeler McCrerey finishing first in J2 girls.
Nordic skiers from Alaska to Maine converged on West Yellowstone, Mont., during Thanksgiving week for training, clinics, a trade expo and races. The annual gathering is the largest early season cross-country ski event in the United States. For many, it marks the beginning of the ski season.
For Summit, it was a chance to get some solid training in. The club packed the van and trailer with skiers and equipment, with 13 youth athletes, two coaches, 50 pairs of skis, wax and home-cooked meals for the 1,500-mile, seven-night trip.
"West Yellowstone plays an important role in preparing our athletes for the coming race season," head coach and program director Joe Howdyshell said, adding that the club has had limited on-snow training since Nov. 1. It's been split between the base of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and a short loop at the Frisco Adventure Park tubing hill.
"Time on snow is key," Howdyshell said. "We were able to conduct two-a-day ski sessions capped with two days of racing."
In the past two years, West Yellowstone has been blessed with ample snowfall, opening 45 kilometers of the Rendezvous Trail System adjacent to town. This year, rain fell on a light snowpack most of the week. Organizers moved the events out of town and up to the South Plateau, grooming Forest Service roads for clinics and competition.
Nearly 300 racers participated in the 9-kilometer skate race on Nov. 23, representing 10 universities, nine post-grad/sponsored teams and 44 clubs.
In addition to the eight top finishes for the Summit ski club, three club alumni competed and had notable finishes. Tyler Reinking, a senior at Montana State University, placed fifth in U23 men, while Tucker McCrerey, in his freshman year at the University of Utah, placed third in OJ men and Julia Hayes, a sophmore also attending Montana State University, placed 10th in OJ women.
Snow permitting, Summit Nordic will host a "National Rank Listing" U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association-sanctioned race Dec. 8-9 at the Gold Run Nordic Center.