Nordic Junior Olympic qualifying races this weekend |

Nordic Junior Olympic qualifying races this weekend

Ben Husband

If Nathan Morse, Nathan Waldron and R.C. Walker hope to make it back to the National Nordic Junior Olympics, their only chance at getting return tickets is this weekend.

Last year, the three Aspen High School juniors and members of the Aspen Valley Ski Club’s nordic team, all qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championships in Idaho.

By Monday, the three will know if they are returning to the JO’s; the final two qualifying races are this weekend in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The action begins at 1 p.m. today with the second of three Junior Olympic qualifying events at the Spring Gulch Trail System near Carbondale, off Thompson Creek Road.

On Saturday, the third and final event will be at the Aspen High School track behind Aspen High School. Saturday’s action will kick off at 9 a.m.

Today’s race in Carbondale will be a 10K classic race. Saturday’s race in Aspen will be a 5K skate race.

Teams from the Rocky Mountain Division will compete in both races. Aspen Valley Ski Club race director and nordic coach Toby Morse expects 200-plus competitors from 11 club teams from all over Colorado.

The first JO qualifying event was earlier this month in Leadville. Waldron led AVSC’s J1 men (ages 16-17) in the 5K event with an eighth-place finish in 17 minutes, 45 seconds. Walker finished 11th in 18:06 and Nathan Morse placed 16th in 18:49.

Qualification for the Junior Olympics, which will be in Anchorage, Alaska, this year, will depend on a time percentage and differential from the three races.

According to Morse, about 21 racers from the Rocky Mountain District will qualify.

As far as his trio of dominant racers and their teammates, Toby Morse said, “A lot is going to depend on this weekend.” Others to watch for In addition to Morse, Waldron and Walker, there will be a number of racers to watch for this weekend.

Travis Morhman and Ben Sadler also represent AVSC in the J1 division. Other AVSC male competitors include Michael Otte and Conor Flynn of the J2 division – ages 13-14.

Simi Hamilton of the J4’s (12-13), could win his division, according to Toby Morse. Hamilton’s divisional teammate, John Hatanaka, has been skiing strong too, Morse said.

Jenny Hamilton, Maile Wade, Cori Haett of the J3 women and Sarah Prudden and Polly Daniels are some of the top AVSC females.

Former AVSC member and current Colorado Rocky Mountain School racer August Teague, according to coach Morse, “is skiing well right now.”

Teague also qualified for the JO’s last year.

Morse also said there are a number of racers in the RMD who are “racing within 10 seconds of each other.” High school race Also on Saturday will be a nordic high school race.

In addition to the RMD JO qualifying event, racers who travel with a high school will also score points for their respective schools.

In Leadville, the AHS boys team finished third out of 10 teams with 157 points, while the girls’ team finished eighth out of nine teams with 87 points.

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