The North Tahoe boys were not to be denied victory in the first official race of the CNISSF Nordic racing season - even without their top dog.
The Lakers trio of Peter Holmes, Shane Christian and Julian Bordes swept the top three spots at the Sugar Bowl Freestyle last Friday to claim the win in the varsity boys division. And they didn't even need help from senior Patrick McElravey, who, along with teammate Dylan Syben, sat out the race after recently returning from Senior Nationals in Utah.
"I was extremely proud of the way our varsity boys skied," said North Tahoe head coach Kara LaPoint, whose boys team is looking to defend its state title from 2012. "It was a great representation of the hard work they have been putting in and the dedication they have shown."
While the North Tahoe boys took care of business, Truckee's young girls squad led by their two standout sophomores and a group of talented freshmen captured victory in their race.
They were led by freshman Hannah Halvorsen, who finished second in the field of 47 high school girls, while Truckee's Gabrielle Rinne, Lizzie Larkins, Skyler Flora and Kyla Burrill finished fourth through seventh.
"This varsity team is young and strong and the future is super bright," said Truckee head coach Jon Halvorsen. "With five super talented freshmen skiers coming up from the Alder Creek Middle School squad joining our returning sophomores (Rinne and Flora), they are a force that will be next to impossible to stop."
Defending state champion Katrin Larusson of the Sugar Bowl Academy captured the individual win, posting a time of 15.45 over the roughly 5-kilometer course to Halvorsen's 15.52. Amanda Kirkeby of Mammoth rounded out the top three in 16.51.
Rinne posted a time of 17.03, Larkins 17.09, Flora 17.13 and Burrill 17.36. Truckee's other two freshmen, Jenna Rohlf (13th, 18.51) and Olivia Yale (15th, 19.27), also fared well.
Sugar Bowl Academy's Camille Hartley finished eighth in a time of 17.56 and Savannah Blide was 10th in 18.03 to help lead their team to a second-place finish behind Truckee.
North Tahoe's girls placed third. Sophomore Tara Gallant and senior Emily Nall led the way in 11th and 12th place, respectively, with times of 18.35 and 18.49. Teammate Zoe Anderson placed 14th in 18.59, Ingrid Roske was 16th in 20.3 and Bryn Anderson was 20th in 21.21.
Holmes took the win in the varsity boys race by a 10-second margin over Christian, in 14.16 to Christian's 14.26, while Bordes crossed the finish line in 14.53. Teammates Jackson Wood (18th, 16.36) and Dominic Antonucci (19th, 16.51) also cracked the top 20.
"The cool thing about this year's squad is that I really think they all have the potential to mix up the results among the group at any given time, depending on who has a great day and who doesn't," LaPoint said of her boys. "I think that is a big part of what makes them strong - they are competitive among one another in their level of skiing, and they have figured out how to use that to their advantage and grow as a whole.
"It is also really nice to have that depth, because there isn't too much weight or pressure placed on any one person's individual result.
The Sugar Bowl Academy boys finished second to North Tahoe, as they placed four racers in the top 10. Sam Zabell led the way in fourth place, posting a time of 14.57, while Peter Carroll was sixth in 15.0, Skyler Mullings was ninth in 15.29 and Casey Jobe was 10th in 15.3.
Truckee's boys, meanwhile, came in third as a team. Senior Alex Kopytko finished eighth in a time of 15.19. He was followed by senior Branden Deeter (15.43) in 12th place and sophomore returning open class state champion Eli Yale (15.46) in 13th place. Aaron Deeter (15.58) and Colin Deurlington (16.12) were 14th and 15th, respectively.
Eathan Rohlf and Emma Beardsley of Truckee won the open divisions, while Alder Creek racers swept the top spots of the middle school races.
Mia Winans won the girls middle school race and was followed by Alder Creek teammates Claire Lang-Ree and Brenna Wapstra Scott, and North Tahoe's Lindsey Twomey. Alder Creek's Ryland Belisle won the boys middle school race while Cody Atwood of North Tahoe was second and Cameron Small third.