Sargent joins friends in Sochi for Olympics

Ida Sargent of Barton will ski in her first Winter Olympics next month.  Photo courtesy of Dave and Lindy Sargent

Ida Sargent of Barton will ski in her first Winter Olympics next month. Photo courtesy of Dave and Lindy Sargent

copyright the Chronicle January 29, 2014

by Natalie Hormilla

 

On the week of her twenty-sixth birthday, Ida Sargent of Barton got some very big news — that she had officially been named to the U.S. Olympic women’s cross-country ski team.

“I think when I found out I couldn’t stop smiling,” Ms. Sargent said in a telephone interview Friday from Toblach, Italy, where she will compete in two World Cup races this weekend. 

The weekend’s events are the last for Ms. Sargent before she heads to her first Olympic games, in Sochi, Russia.

“Then on Sunday, we’ll drive to Munich, then Monday we do all the processing — fill out the forms, get the visas figured out, and get our uniforms.  Then on Tuesday, we fly to Sochi.”

Even with the Olympics around the corner, Ms. Sargent is still focused on the tasks at hand.

“Right now, I’m still kind of focusing on these next World Cup races and trying to just take each moment in stride,” she said.

Her birthday plans included hard training sessions in the morning, followed by fun with a couple of friends who just happen to be in Italy, too.

“Hannah Dreissigacker and Susan Dunklee are training about 30 minutes from here, which is really unique, because we usually don’t cross paths,” she said.  “That’ll be a really special way to celebrate my birthday.”

Ms. Dunklee and Ms. Dreissigacker are newly named Olympians themselves, having been nominated to the U.S. women’s biathlon team.

The three women have known each other most of their lives, through skiing together at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, first as kids in the Bill Koch League, then as young women in the Craftsbury Green Racing Project.

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In Nordic skiing: Night relays show lighter side of competitive skiing

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It’s not every day that a tiger tags off the relay to his short-necked giraffe Nordic ski partner.  And yet that is precisely what happened when Lyndon Institute's Daniel Chen (right) tagged Jayan Xie at the North Country-hosted night relays in Craftsbury on Thursday. Photo by Richard Creaser

It’s not every day that a tiger tags off the relay to his short-necked giraffe Nordic ski partner. And yet that is precisely what happened when Lyndon Institute’s Daniel Chen (right) tagged Jayan Xie at the North Country-hosted night relays in Craftsbury.  Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 2-17-2013

CRAFTSBURY — The lighting was dim, the footing uneven, and the quest seemingly impossible — locating Supergirl and a pink winged fairy.  North Country Union High School’s annual night relay on Thursday, February 14, at times seemed less a competitive cross-country skiing event and more like a vignette from a Hunter S. Thompson story, at least to the uninitiated.

The night relay is an annual event, normally held at the track at North Country proper.  But due to limited snow cover, the event was moved to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.  Staggering down the hill through deeper snow, on account of having overlooked the perfectly groomed paths leading down to the relay area, I was greeted by a polar bear, a bumblebee, and two girls in grass skirts.  I thought I had crashed the wrong event.

Coming across a journalist acquaintance, I discovered that costumes and revelry are actually part and parcel of the North Country night relay experience.  A group of nearby Falcon varsity racers were quick to confirm this.

North Country's skiing executive Dan Decelles cruises downhill during Thursday night's North Country-hosted night relays held at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

North Country’s skiing executive Dan Decelles cruises downhill during Thursday night’s North Country-hosted night relays held at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

“I’m not sure when it started, but it’s been going on long before we were in high school,” senior Brian DeLaBruere said.  “There are a lot of hills and features that you normally wouldn’t encounter in Nordic skiing.  It’s fun and it’s a nice change.”

“It’s also kind of neat that it’s under the lights,” Laura Smith added.

Asked why costumes became a part of the event, Jade Dandurand looked quizzical before responding, “Why not?”

The night relays are quite unlike most other Nordic events the North Country squad encounters in the run of a racing season.  Relays are a part of the experience and, weather permitting, night relays occur as well.  But nothing is ever quite like the North Country-hosted event.

“It’s a little more carefree than most of the other races,” Dan Decelles said.  “Everyone has a chance to relax before heading off to the state championships.  It’s fun but everyone is still here to compete.”

Craftsbury Academy’s boys duo of Anders Hanson and Jacob Morse took third place, only one minute and eight seconds off the pace of Mt. Mansfield’s first-place team of Wylie Picotte and Ben Hegman.  North Country took eighth and ninth place in the two-man relays with Alex Cotnoir and Sam Brunette, finishing 22 seconds ahead of Dan Decelles and Brian DeLaBruere with times of 21:35 and 21:57, respectively.  Craftsbury’s Kestrel Owens and his partner Matthew Lawlor finished tenth with a time of 22:48.

Falcon Haley Jo Tetreault tackles the miniature snow mountain.  Tetreault's salt designation paired with her partner Adele Woodmansee's pepper.  Scuttlebutt around the North Country camp indicated that plans for aluminum foil headgear fell through.

Falcon Haley Jo Tetreault tackles the miniature snow mountain. Tetreault’s salt designation paired with her partner Adele Woodmansee’s pepper. Scuttlebutt around the North Country camp indicated that plans for aluminum foil headgear fell through.

In the girls’ varsity race, Falcons Haley Jo Tetreault and Adele Woodmansee finished sixth overall with a time of 24:30, two minutes and 53 seconds behind event winners Molly Larson and Amy Bruce of Mt. Mansfield.  Fellow Falcons Laura Smith and Jade Dandurand finished with a time of 27 minutes.  Craftsbury Academy’s Olivia Jones and Sabrina Thomas finished with a time of 31:14.

In the mixed relay, Mt. Mansfield again came out on top with the team of Wylie Picotte, Ben Hegman, Tiana Bibb, and Annavitte Rand finishing first with a time of 9:54.  The Falcons would finish fifth and sixth, with the team of Haley Jo Tetreault, Adele Woodmansee, Alex Cotnoir, and Sam Brunette edging out the team of Laura Smith, Jade Dandurand, Dan Decelles, and Brian DeLaBruere with times of 11:16 and 11:30, respectively.  A combined team of St. Johnsbury Academy and North Country racers Callum Hening, Sophie Martin, Patrick Lawlor, and Brianna Grimm finished ninth with a time of 12:29, while the Craftsbury team of Olivia Jones, Jacob Morse, Sabrina Thomas, and Anders Hanson finished eleventh overall with a time of 12:31.

In the junior varsity races, North Country’s Alex Cope and Fred Petzoldt finished second only two seconds behind event winners Mt. Mansfield’s Liam Ossler and Keegan Cummings with times of 11:41 and 11:39, respectively.  Top Falcons girls JV racers were Rebeka Young and Brianna Grimm with a time of 15:44.  Mt. Mansfield again claimed top honors behind the performance of Acadia Dinardo and Claire Julianelle who completed the race with a time of 12:29.

It was, at times, difficult to keep a straight face throughout the race.  Where else would two ninjas, a pirate and a ladybug clamber up a hill dominated by a cougar and a man in a neon green vest?  Where else could you show Supergirl a photo and discover that this is not the Supergirl you’ve been looking for?

On a night of costumed mayhem Lamoille Union's Kelly Kryzak was one of two caped champions to tackle the quirky Nordic track at North Country's night relays in Craftsbury.  Kryzak's race partner, Clare Salerno, was the second Supergirl.

On a night of costumed mayhem Lamoille Union’s Kelly Kryzak was one of two caped champions to tackle the quirky Nordic track at North Country’s night relays in Craftsbury. Kryzak’s race partner, Clare Salerno, was the second Supergirl.

And, for those who have ever wondered, a collision between a skier and a polar bear doesn’t always have to end badly.  Sometimes the two participants simply get up, shake the snow off, utter quick apologies and continue on their way.  It’s true, I saw it happen myself.

Spying a young man wearing a Cat in the Hat hat, I figured he would probably be the kind of person to put this whole experience into perspective.  As Cat in the Hat hats go, it was among the finest examples of its kind, a fact attributable, no doubt, to its origins as a mother-made piece of millinery.

“I honestly don’t know how it stayed on my head,” Fred Petzoldt admitted.  “There were a few hills, a lot of little bumps, and you could get some good speed coming into the homestretch.  But it stayed on the whole time.”

Mr. Petzoldt became momentarily distracted when a five-foot-and-change tall bumblebee passed by.  The distraction was not his alone, however.  After a pause, we resumed our conversation.

“This is actually my first year in Nordic skiing so I’ve never seen this before,” Mr. Petzoldt said.  “But I like it.  It’s a lot of fun.”

North Country’s night relays aren’t the sort of thing that most people expect to see at a high school Nordic meet and that’s perfectly okay.  Amidst the pressure to succeed and the mental and physical toll racing takes on a body, sometimes it’s nice to relax and let it all hang out, even if it is in a samurai costume.

contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com.

For more free sports stories, look in our sports category on this site or subscribe to our print or online editions.  Click on this link for a full winter sports schedule.

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Sports briefs – Nordic skiing update

January 2

Nordic skiing night relays at Montpelier High School

North Country fared well in the Montpelier High hosted night relays on Wednesday, January 2.  Both the Falcons and Lady Falcons relay teams posted fourth place finishes in the event.  The Lady Falcons relay team of Haley Jo Tetreault, Jade Dandurand and Laura Smith completed the relay with a time of 34:40, five minutes off the pace of event winners Eliza Merrylees, Lyra Wanzer and Orli Schwartz from U-32.  The Falcons squad of Brian DeLabruere, Sam Brunette and Dan Decelles finished with a time of 26:49, two and a half minutes behind event winners Will Johnson, Karl Schmeckpeper and Ben Merrylees representing U-32.

Craftsbury Academy Charger Jared Benson and his partners Danny Stames and Charles Belisle, participating on a combined team from Peoples Academy and Craftsbury Academy, finished with a time of 36:39.  Lady Charger Sabrina Thompson and her Peoples Academy partners Emma Lodge and Caitlyn Bain finished with a time of 55:45.  — submitted by Alex Gratton.

January 7

Nordic skiing at Burke hosted by St. Johnsbury Academy

The North Country Falcons enjoyed a strong showing, recording a first-place team finish in varsity girls Nordic racing and a second-place team finish in varsity boys racing.  Senior Haley Jo Tetreault led the Lady Falcons, recording a third-place individual finish with a time of 25:35, 2:07 behind race winner Lauren Gillot of St. Johnsbury Academy.  Jade Dandurand finished in seventh place with a time of 29:31.  Brian DeLabruere led the Falcons with a fourth-place individual finish and a time of  22:13, less than two minutes behind event winner Sam Puddicombe of Stowe.  Alex Cotnoir finished eighth overall with a time of 23:32.

On the junior varsity circuit the Falcons enjoyed more success as Parker LaCourse and Fred Petzoldt captured second and third places with times of 14:17 and 14:18 respectively.  Beka Young was the top Lady Falcon JV racer, taking fourth place with a time of 20:25.  — submitted by Alex Gratton

Submit sports news by phone or e-mail to Richard Creaser at (802) 873-3028 or nek_scribbler@hotmail.com.  The deadline is noon on Tuesdays. 

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NC Falcons host Nordic ski meet at Mount Hor

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North Country's Sam Brunette (right) moves to pass Brattleboro Union High's Oliver Pomanzi in boys' varsity Nordic ski action on December 28.  Brunette's time of 20:29 was tops among the Falcons on the day. Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country’s Sam Brunette (right) moves to pass Brattleboro Union High’s Oliver Pomanzi in boys’ varsity Nordic ski action on December 28. Brunette’s time of 20:29 was tops among the Falcons on the day.
Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 12-30-2012

WESTMORE — Thursday evening’s deep blanket of snow created much improved conditions as North Country Union High School held its first home Nordic ski meet of the season atop Mount Hor on Friday, December 28.  Conditions this year were a far cry from last year’s opening meet.  Last season volunteers repeatedly threw shovels full of snow over bare patches and some of the larger rocks in an effort to maintain passable trail conditions.

“We had a lot of trouble finding snow last season,” North Country Coach Alex Gratton recalled.  “It’s tough to keep up morale, to get excited about the season when you barely have a chance to get on the snow.”

So far, the 2013-2013 season has promised much greater things.  The team has taken advantage of man-made snow on the trails at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center hitting their trails at least once a week.  In addition the team traveled for a three-day skiing getaway at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec.

“We weren’t able to take that trip last year because they didn’t have any snow either,” Coach Gratton said.  “This season is shaping up much better, snow-wise.”

Skiers from nine different schools in Vermont and from Lebanon High in New Hampshire traveled to Westmore for the Falcons’ home meet.  Though North Country did not fare so well in the standings on Friday afternoon, it did little to dampen their enthusiasm for their team or their chosen sport.

North Country Falcon Bradley Dopp digs deep as he races toward the finish line during the Friday, December 28 Nordic ski meet at Mount Hor in Westmore. Dopp would complete the course in 23:22. Photo by Richard Creaser

North Country Falcon Bradley Dopp digs deep as he races toward the finish line during the Friday, December 28 Nordic ski meet at Mount Hor in Westmore. Dopp would complete the course in 23:22.
Photo by Richard Creaser

“We’re a pretty tight group,” varsity skier Bradley Dopp said after the race.  “Most of us run cross country or track too.  So we’ve known each other for quite a while.”

That camaraderie is what distinguishes this Falcons’ team from most other squads, varsity skier Brianna Grimm said.  The fellowship among the athletes is what enables them to push themselves onward.

“We’re basically one big family,” Ms. Grimm said.  “We encourage one another a lot.”

Encouragement is something that all athletes needed to tackle the challenging Mount Hor course.  The initial stages involve a sprint over relatively level ground followed by some twists and turns and then The Wall.  The Wall is an imposing vertical ascent in the middle of the course.

“That big hill was a real challenge,” junior varsity skier Zachary Charbonneau said.  “That was probably the toughest part.”

The Wall is an imposing obstacle that requires that skiers conserve enough energy to tackle it.  The tendency might be to take off at speed through the early part of the course but that could leave you stranded once you hit the hill, Mr. Dopp said.

“It’s easier to go faster than you ought to,” Mr. Dopp said.  “But if you’ve skied this course before and you know that hill is coming, you save a little something.  You can make back a lot of time coming down.”

Timing and pacing are crucial skills to master for both Nordic skiing and cross-country running, Ms. Grimm said.  As a result athletes spend a lot of time running and working out their cardiovascular system to develop endurance.

“There’s really no way to prepare yourself for a hill like that,” Ms. Grimm said.  “You just do it.”

“It just goes straight up for like a quarter of the course,” Mr. Dopp said.  “It’s a bit rough and you gotta work hard but it’s so worth it when you get to the top.”

That work ethic and a willingness to support and encourage one another makes this team a pleasure to work with, Coach Gratton said.  The 17 members of this year’s squad are as close to a family as any group could be, he said.

“They are just so positive,” the coach said.  “I’d take these kids anywhere.  We might not be a big team but we’re very close.”

Coach Gratton took a moment to congratulate Alex Cotnoir and Sam Brunette on strong runs.

“You were lookin’ good out there,” he told Mr. Brunette.  “You had a lot more energy.”

“I thought I went a little slower than I ought to,” Mr. Brunette replied.  “But I felt good going up The Wall.”

Mount Mansfield won the team varsity girls title while Mount Anthony edged U-32 for the varsity boys title.  North Country finished in sixth and seventh place in the girls’ and boys’ divisions respectively.

Annavitte Rand was the top girls’ finisher completing the course in 18:25, 12 seconds ahead of Burlington High’s Halie Lange.  Haley Jo Tetreault posted the top time among the Lady Falcons cruising in to a finish time of 22:30 and only eight seconds out of a three-way tie for twelfth place.  Jade Dandurand was NCU’s next top finisher with a time of 26:11.

U-32′s Ben Merrylees was the top boys’ skier finishing with a time of 17:12, a full 16 seconds ahead of second place skier Luke Johnas of Mount Anthony.  Alexander Cotnoir held North Country’s fastest time landing in a three-way tie for eighteenth place with a time of 19:54.  Falcon Sam Brunette finished in a two-way tie for twenty-seventh overall with a time of 20:29.

Falcon Adele Woodmansee finished second in girls junior varsity action only four seconds behind event winner U-32′s Audrey Oliver’s time of 9:17.  Alexander Cope had the fastest time among the Falcons’ junior varsity racers finishing in seventh place overall with a time of 9:57.  Teammate Fred Petzoldt finished 20 seconds behind to take ninth place overall.

Contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com

For more sports stories, please see our website sports section or subscribe to our print or online edition. Click on this link for a full high school winter sports schedule.

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