January 2020 Athlete of the Month: Sydney Palmer-Leger

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Photo by Parker Photo Film
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Sydney Palmer-Leger, originally from Park City, Utah, is currently a senior on the Cross Country Comp Team. An individual who approaches her training with self-discipline, positivity, and a penchant for diving headfirst into the pain cave without reservation, Sydney’s results this season have reflected the time and effort she has steadily put toward her athletic career. She’s proven to be among the top in the nation in her sport – multiple spots at and near the top this season have landed her the title of SVSEF Athlete of the Month for January 2020.
At the start of the 2019-2020 competitive season, Sydney posted her best SuperTour results to date, with podiums in Canmore and on her home turf in Sun Valley. These races set her up for a solid run at U.S. Nationals, held in Houghton, Michigan, in early January. Sydney ended up qualifying first of all the junior girls named to the World Juniors team. “Most importantly,” explained SVSEF Cross Country Program Director Rick Kapala, “she had a really good breakthrough race; she won the 7.5km classic junior race at Nationals against all the girls she typically battles with.” 
This put her in good form heading to Lausanne, Switzerland, for the Youth Olympic Games, which brings together the top 16-17 year olds from around the world. She posted two fourth place finishes, among the best results the U.S. has ever had at the Youth Olympic Games. On the women’s side, along with Kendall Kramer, Sydney garnered the first top-5 results for women. “She’s skiing really well now, and we have a little less than a month to get her prepped and ready for World Junior Championships,” said Kapala. Sydney will be training at home for the next couple weeks before heading to Soldier Hollow, where she’ll complete her final tune up races for World Junior Championships.
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Sydney in third at the Sun Valley SuperTour, women’s 10km freestyle.
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Sydney in first at U.S. Nationals, women’s junior 7.5km classic.
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“The other thing that’s been exciting for Syd,” noted Kapala, “is that she signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Utah, so she has the next phase of her skiing and educational journey set now. Hailing from Park City, UU is a good fit for her, and it’s really great that she has this opportunity to ski for Utah and take advantage of what her skiing has done for her so far.”
“Sydney’s put a lot of effort into improving her classic skiing this year, to the point where now classic distance skiing is one of her strengths. She’s always been a good classic sprinter, but her training and focus on classic distance this season has put her in a place where she’s an all-around good skier – she’s among the best girls in the country across the board, having seen success competing in both techniques in distance, as well as in sprinting.”
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Sydney skis the 5km classic at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, Switzerland. (Photo: OIS/Joel Marklund.)