SVSEF XC Comp Team members shine at Junior Nationals in Fairbanks, AK 

IMD finishes second in overall Alaska Cup 

Cold temps and wind were a breeze for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) junior national team skiers who showed weather is just part of the show at the 2023 USSA Cross Country Ski Junior National Championships in Fairbanks, AK. The team skied some of the hardest courses of the year and helped the Intermountain Division finish second in the overall Alaska Cup, the best finish for the division in years.

Day one started cold… and ended colder. The temperature was four degrees at race time, with perfect tracks and a racecourse that was as challenging as it gets. Jodie Maguire led the U18 SVSEF girls contingent with a solid 13th place finish in the 7.5km classic race. She was followed closely by Berkeley Canfield, Ani Vandenburgh, Aisley Grohusky, Molly Maybach, and Eloise Hebert. Less than three minutes separated the finish times. On the same course, Cora Faye Scott led the U16 girls, followed by Mazzy Conners. “It was really cold,” said Conners. In his first ever junior national race, Dexter Morrison finished the 7.5km race with a time of 26:08, good enough for 61st place in the U18 boys field. Miguel Fresco Hanlon found himself in 17th for U20’s to round out the day.

“Our athletes raced some of their best races of the season on exciting and challenging courses in Fairbanks,” said SVSEF Guest Coach Bob Thompson. “The fight the Sun Valley skiers showed was inspiring.”

Cold temperatures stayed put for day two of the event, and the winds added yet another element to the freestyle sprint. The team bundled up and showed real grit when it came time to race. Fresco led the way for U20 boys, finishing fourth overall and first for IMD. Dexter Morrison showed his sprint skills with a 27th overall finish for U18 boys. Cora Faye Scott continued the streak with a blazing fifth place overall finish in the U16 girls race with teammate Mazzy Conners finding her way to 62nd.  In the U18 girls sprint, it was Molly Maybach and Ani Vandenburgh at the top, finishing sixth and ninth respectively. They were followed closely by Maguire and Canfield. Grohusky and Hebert rounded out the scoring for IMD, putting the division in second overall going into the last day of racing.

The last day of racing brought smiles, blankets to keep warm at the start/finish, and another solid day of race results from IMD and the SVSEF crew. Maguire continued her distance dominance for the U18’s, finishing 12th overall in the 10km freestyle mass start. SVSEF/IMD teammates could see each other the whole way, helping to motivate one another in the last race of the championships. Canfield, Maybach, Grohusky, Hebert and Vandenburgh completed the race within minutes of each other, helping IMD build a lead going into the last few races. In the U16 girls race, Scott led the SVSEF crew finishing 23rd and Conners tied her best result finishing 62nd. The result of the day came from Fresco-Hanlon with a sixth-place result in the U20 boys  10km mass start freestyle event, once again leading the way for IMD.

“It was really cool to get to represent Sun Valley and the region and just being there was a blast,” said Fresco Hanlon. “Also, doing well for me was an added bonus.”

In the true essence of sport, SVSEF Comp Team athlete Ani Vandenburg was named the “Spirit of IMD” by her Intermountain Division teammates. Vandenburgh was a leader on and off the racecourse, showing kindness and compassion to her teammates as well as leading by example. “She was one of the toughest athletes out there on the last day,” said Coach Thompson. “Her shins locked up on her and she stuck it out in a lot of pain.”

In the coveted Alaska Cup at Junior Nationals, IMD had its best showing in years, displaying the strength of the region. “It is exciting to be a part of a competitive Nordic community here in Intermountain,” said Becky Woods, SVSEF Cross Country Program Director. “When we go to Junior National qualifiers throughout the winter, we know that the competition there is similar to that of Junior Nationals. It is a positive shift that will allow our athletes to compete with the best in the country as we ski into the future.”

Alaska Cup 

1 New England:  822

2 Intermountain (IMD): 785

3 Midwest: 667

Day 1 

Classic 7.5km interval start 

U16 Women 

14 Cora Faye Scott

72 Mazzy Conners

U18 Women 

13 JodieWillow Maguire

19 Berkeley Canfield

24 Ani Vandenburgh

29 Aisley Grohusky

34 Molly Maybach

55 Eloise Hebert

U18 Men 

61 Dexter Morrison

U20 Men 

17 Miguel Fresco Hanlon

Day 2 

Freestyle Sprint 

U16 Women 

5 Cora Fay Scott*

62 Mazzy Conners

U18 Women 

6 Molly Maybach*

9 Ani Vandenburgh*

14 JodieWillow Maguire

17 Berkeley Canfield

48 Aisley Grohusky

54 Eloise Hebert

U18 Men 

27 Dexter Morrison

U20 Men 

4 Miguel Fresco Hanlon*

Day 3 

Freestyle Mass Start 

U16 Women – 5km 

23 Cora Faye Scott

62 Mazzy Conners

U18 Women – 10km 

12 JodieWillow Maguire

25 Berkeley Canfield

31 Molly Maybach

49 Aisley Grohusky

53 Eloise Hebert

58 Ani Vandenburgh

U20 Men 

6 Miguel Fresco Hanlon*

*All American honors go to the top 10 in every race. 

For more information and results, visit: 2023 JN Fairbanks Results

Photos courtesy of Tory Canfield.