By Jackie Nemecek
Arctic conditions and biting winds did not hold back the Westonka Nordic team from having a busy and productive racing week. As temperatures hovered just above the mandatory -4 degree cutoff, the team competed in two 5 kilometer, Classic-style competitions at Elm Creek and Hyland Park.
Classic technique has the racer ski in machine-made grooves, utilizing the skis’ “kick,” or grip on the snow, to propel forward in addition to extensive use of the poles. Other schools battling it out on the courses were state powerhouse Highland Park, along with Central, Holy Family, Scott West, Como Park, Avalon GRS and Orono.
Strong winds February 5 at Elm Creek blew fine, crystal-like snow into the two-loop course, making the skiing resemble walking in sand. Coach Sue Harrison was proud of her team’s attitude and grit stating, “Drifting snow in the tracks, exposed ice, stiff, cold wind, broken poles and surprising falls made it a difficult day to race.”
The White Hawks boys team fought hard for third place, even with broken poles by senior Nolan Hanson and senior Roman Fenzl. Junior Lance Nemecek was the top White Hawks finisher with a 15:56. The girls team took fifth, with adverse conditions causing even the most seasoned skiers to fall. Junior Anna Elliot had top honors for Westonka, followed closely by ninth-grader Anna Wood.
A hard, fast track at Hyland with temps in the single digits greeted skiers on February 10 for another day of conference competition. The boys again had a solid third-place performance, with Nemecek finishing eighth overall out of 78 racers with a 16:07, followed by junior Max Epsky (18:05) and Hanson (18:17). The girls team earned fifth place with top skiers being ninth-grader Avery Zealley, Elliot, Wood and senior Carly McGown.
The next race for the White Hawks Nordic team will be February 19 at Wirth for the conference championship.