STOWE, Vt. -- A week after the Winter Olympics came to a close, possible future Olympians from around the country are competing in the USSA Junior National Cross-Country Skiing Championships.
About 380 skiers from 23 states are taking part in the weeklong event that began Saturday at Trapp Family Lodge. This year, they are competing as 10 regional teams, rather than against each other as they typically do.
"It’s really fun because we all come from different high schools, and we spend the whole season racing against each other so now it’s kind of fun to get to race with one another," said Annika Flynn, 17, of Girdwood, Alaska.
A member of Team Alaska, Flynn didn’t do as well as she would have liked Wednesday morning in the 1.4 kilometer classic sprint qualifier. She finished under the top 30, disqualifying her for the final that afternoon.
"So it’s just kind of like a lot of traveling coming from Alaska, and I’m just not quite where I want to be," she said.
Teammate Janey Hoefler, 17, of Anchorage qualified in classic sprinting, her favorite race. So did Rebecca Smith, 18, of Wellesley, Mass., who ranked 14th.
"It’s really fun ... because everybody here is at the next level and you know everybody here is good, and it’s fun to just be skiing around with all the best athletes in the nation," Smith said.
The best includes University of Vermont racer Cole Morgan of Bozeman, Mont., who took first in the Under 20 men’s 5-K classic on Monday. Team New England swept the podium in the U-20 men’s and women’s in that race, with the women taking first through sixth place. That put the team a couple hundred points ahead for the Alaska Cup Award, which recognizes the outstanding divisional team performance.
"We do have a home course advantage because we have some of the college skiers who are not going out to the NCAAs here who qualified for the New England team," said event organizer Carol Van Dyke.
Amie Smith, an assistant trip leader with Team New England, was feeling positive about Wednesday.
"Today’s the sprints," she said. "Historically New England’s been very strong, and I don’t want to jinx anything but I have a very good feeling for today."