South Tahoe shined on a sunny day at California Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation (CNISSF) Nordic Championships on Friday, Feb. 16, at Auburn Ski Club.
Out of eight teams represented, including Colfax, Mammoth, Nevada Union, North Tahoe, Placer, Sugar Bowl Academy and Truckee, the Vikings boys finished fourth and the girls fifth.
"I am super proud of how well the athletes did this season," said Vikings head coach Mark Hoefer. "With so little snow to train on, it could have been very easy to just call it quits. But they all kept themselves motivated and they kept me motivated, too. A coach can't ask anymore from his athletes."
The skiers raced three laps around a 2.5-kilometer loop, and transitioned from classic technique to skate technique after the first lap. The race format called for an interval start with each racer starting 15 seconds apart.
The start order was based on each skiers rankings/place at the end of the league season, with the top skier going out first.
After the first lap, skiers entered the exchange zone where they switched out of their classic skis to freestyler gear and headed back out.
"It can get pretty crazy in the exchange zone, with some teams having multiple skiers in their designated area at the same time," Hoefer said.
Coaches are only allowed to place the equipment into the box for their skiers. The skiers must release bindings, step out and into new bindings all on their own.
"With a relatively small team this season, it made my job pretty easy," Hoefer said. "A few of the teams had multiple skiers coming into the exchange area at the same time, making it look like a three-ring circus."
Christopher Hoefer led the Vikings by finishing 12th out of 41 skiers in 24 minutes, 16 seconds.
Haydn Halvorsen from Sugar Bowl won the state title, covering the 7.5 kilometers in 19:26, over 20 seconds of second place.
Ryan Newberger and David Holmes stepped up their pace finishing in 19th and 22nd respectively, at 26:00 and 26:18. Freshman David Marino had one of his best races and finished in 40:26.
"I was super proud of how the boys raced," Hoefer said. "We were missing one of our stronger skiers (Josh Novak), but we still placed fourth as a team behind North Tahoe, Truckee and Sugar Bowl, who all saw much more training time on snow than we did."
Jessie Brown was the top finisher for girls, covering the hilly course in 31:27, good enough for 24th.
"Jessie has been skiing pretty consistently all season and put together three excellent laps," Hoefer said. "She should be very happy about her overall season."
Also for the girls, Theresa Sandborn was 29th, Melanie Mahr was 30th, Eliana Carney was 36th, Sierra Dahl was 38th and Hannah Vinson was 39th.
Sugar Bowl's Kianna Mullings won the state title in 24:20.
The girls finished fifth behind North Tahoe, Sugar Bowl, Truckee and Nevada Union.
"It is important to remember that because this race was an interval start, not a mass start, each skier is really racing the clock. You have to push hard the entire race because it really comes down to what your time is at the end."