A cold snowy day was the setting for Saturday’s Skiathon-style race at Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center. Central Oregon teams converged at Mt. Hood Meadows to challenge Hood River Valley Nordic racers on their own turf. HRV held their own with the help of the Kaden siblings: Ben, a senior, finished first for HRV boys, and Sophie, a freshman, finished first for HRV girls. Both siblings also race and train for the Teacup Youth team, competing in the Junior National qualifiers on alternating weekends from the high school league races.

The track was groomed early in the morning with a couple of inches of light snow falling afterward to glide over. Big flakes continued to fall with no wind and great visibility.

Skiers were challenged by a “two wave” mass start, with faster racers seeded towards the front. They skied classic style for two kilometers, then raced into a central staging area, where they had to find their team ski area and change boots, skis and poles before racing off for four more kilometers of skate style. Racers’ efficiency in changing impacted their times; numerous racers skied off with boots unzipped or missing gloves.

Will Lange of Summit won the boy’s race in a time of 18:58. He was followed by five more Summit boys in the top ten. HRV’s Ben Kaden and Pelle Bergstrom finished eighth and ninth, with respective times of 21:03 and 21:09. Marshall Bailey finished in 18th place, which gave Hood River an overall team finish of second place. Six more Hood River boys finished in the field of 49. On the girls’ side, Ann McColgan of Bend won in 20:56. Racers from Central Oregon teams filled out the top ten podium spots. HRV’s Sophie Kaden finished in 15th position with a time of 27:21. Luka Pader and Celia Acosta were right on her heels at 16th  and 18th place and times of 27:43 and 28:10, respectively. Then the depth of the HRV girls team came into play with three more skiers placing in the top 30: Emma Kelly, Josephine Stenn and Lydia Gerard. Twelve more HRV girls finished in the field of 61 girls.

Coach Joe Dolan said he was grateful for all the parent volunteers who helped with a myriad of duties, including course set-up, monitoring and sweeping, the timing crew, PA announcements, snack table and tear-down, not to mention helping racers keep warm and hydrated before they start. (Results and comments provided by Dolan.) There are two makeup races possible for Northern league racers who need the minimum races under their belt in order to compete at the State meet, which combines the Northern and Southern OISRA leagues at Bachelor on Feb. 22 and 23.

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