TRAVERSE CITY — The high school cross country ski season did not end with the state championships here this month.
Six area skiers, along with two coaches, are heading to Vermont for the Junior Nationals and J2 New England Championships.
“It’s always great competition,” said Nick Baic, head coach for the Great Lakes District.
The week-long Junior Nationals start Monday at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. Skiers in the U-16 and U-18 divisions will be competing in classic and skate races as well as on three-person relay teams.
Traverse City Central juniors Clay Darling and Erin Lipp, the Vasa Ski Club’s David Butryn and Petoskey’s Sarah Goble will compete in U-18. The Vasa Ski Club’s Ian Durand will be in U-16. The remainder of the Great Lakes team is comprised of skiers from the Upper Peninsula. Baic will be assisted by Traverse City coach John Kostrzewa.
Saturday and Sunday are set aside for training days with competition to commence Monday with a classic race — a 5K for U-16 skiers and U-18 girls, a 10K for U-18 boys. After another training day on Tuesday, 1.4K classic sprints will be held Wednesday, starting with qualifiers, then heats.
Baic said even the qualifiers are extremely competitive.
“That’s probably the hardest thing for our local kids to get used to,” he said.
There will be another training day Thursday, then a freestyle race with a mass start on Friday. The U-16 skiers will race 5K, U-18 skiers 10K.
The event ends with freestyle relays on Saturday.
Niki Roxbury a sophomore at Traverse City Central, will be competing in the New England Championships for J2 skiers ages 14 and 15. Those races will be March 7-9. in Ripton, Vt. The New England Championships are for the top skiers from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. Great Lakes District skiers earned a special invitation.
“Last year we took a team to the J2 championships,” Baic said. “And they did really well. In all but one race we were in the top 20 — all eight of our skiers. We opened up a lot of eyes last year.”
J2 skiers will squeeze four races into three days.