1/25/2013 8:00:00 AM Lakeland athletes ski well at Junior Olympic Qualifier Former T-Bird Kevin Bolger also races at Twin Cities event
Kevin Bolger (left) leads a group of skiers up a hill during a recent race. Bolger, who is in a post-graduate ski program, joined current Thunderbird skiers at a recent Junior Olympic Qualifer in the Twin Cities. Contributed photograph
Ken Schoville for The Lakeland Times
While the Lakeland Nordic Ski Team took a weekend off, five of its members were in Minneapolis fighting for spots on the Midwest Team headed to Fairbanks, Alaska, March 11-17. The team is selected from a series of races beginning in Ironwood, followed by sprints in Wausau, and then two weekends in the Twin Cities as part of a higher level race series, Tour de Twin Cities. Since Ironwood was cancelled, due to lack of snow, the results from the remaining races took on added importance. Saturday was an individual freestyle race, 5 kilometers for both the J2s and J1s on the hilly Theodore Wirth course. Wirth is a Minneapolis park with a tube hill and lots of twists and turns to keep everyone dancing lightly over the manmade snow. J2 skiers (14- to 15-year-olds) Will Bodewes and Mac FitzPatrick went into the weekend with a chance to score points and move up in the rankings, possibly sealing a trip to Alaska. The top six or seven from each class will make the trip and each race is important. FitzPatrick was happy with his fourth-place finish and Bodewes finished tenth on the day. Sophia Annis also competes as a J2 and is in the hunt, ranking among the top 10. Sophie Annis gained experience at nineteenth. In the J1 class (16-17) Delaney FitzPatrick and Erin Bolger had the points necessary to also be considered candidates. Among the J1 girls, Delaney FitzPatrick earned a tenth-place finish in freestyle technique, while Bolger was happy with her day, besting several rivals previously up the rankings. Sunday brought cold and bitter temperatures falling away overnight and making manmade snow hard, quick and icy. With a classic mass start planned, the start was hazardous making all racers tentative on the downhills. That kind of attitude usually makes apprehension reality. Annis finished her weekend with a solid thirteenth. Bodewes stayed with the front- runners and led for a time, but ran out of gas along the way, while Mac FitzPatrick stayed out of trouble and wound up with a sixth-place finish. Bodewes finished right behind in seventh. Delaney FitzPatrick was in her element with the classic head-to-head competition. She jumped out early but racked up two crashes. Overcoming those handicaps, she put on a tremendous last hill surge and finished in fifth place for the day. Bolger finished twenty-fifth in the classic and chalked it up to a learning day.
Kevin Bolger races Also attending was 2011 Wisconsin State Champ, Kevin Bolger. In his second year of a post graduate ski program with the Sun Valley Educational Ski Foundation, he made the trip with two teammates, chasing national points and a chance for a trip to Italy later this season. Bolger also races well in classic conditions and took his mass start wave out with the leaders but a broken pole slowed his race. Even so, he finished well up in the standings and first among the younger skiers skiing up in the senior class.
Lakeland back on track The Nordic ski team will return to compete this weekend at Wirth. The race will feature a reversal of techniques with an individual classic start Saturday and a freestyle pursuit Sunday with skiers started based on their Saturday finish times. First one in wins the game, passing moves you up the rankings, and a “Pac Man” attitude causes smiles on coaches. On the points list going into the last selection races, Bodewes and Mac FitzPatrick look poised to make the J2 boys’ team, with Annis “on the bubble” in eighth place. Delaney FitzPatrick is also in a precarious position at ninth, but has one prequalified skier ahead of her and is looking confident. Erin Bolger has an outside chance, but as a first year J1 is upbeat and learning the nuances of skiing the longer 10k races. Ken Schoville is the former head coach of the Lakeland Nordic Ski team.