Young Nordic skiers go the extra mile at home invite

Robert Galbreath photo Freshman Fisher Mills hits his stride in the first-kilometer of the boys’ varsity 5K at the Pinedale Nordic Ski Invitational on Dec. 16.

PINEDALE – Only five Pinedale High School (PHS) freshmen were healthy enough to participate in the Pinedale Nordic Ski Invitational on the trails near White Pine Ski Resort on Dec. 16-17.

While young and small in numbers, each PHS freshman stepped up to the plate and finished strong on both Friday and Saturday, braving frigid temperatures and stiff competition from larger teams stacked with experienced upperclassmen.

“The kids just dug in and did their best,” said Head Nordic Ski Coach Holly Thayne. “I was proud of them for showing true grit out in the elements. They’re all still learning the techniques of Nordic skiing and have come a long way already. I’m grateful to have kids who are willing to step outside their comfort zone and try something new and difficult and find their own level of success.”

Friday featured a 5-kilometer skate race for varsity followed by a 7.5-kilometer classic race on Saturday. In all, the varsity skiers logged approximately 7.7 miles over the weekend.

Junior varsity athletes competed on a 3-kilometer course both days.

Bryn Arne represented PHS in the girls’ varsity 5K on Friday. She placed 41st, clocking in at 26 minutes, 7.60 seconds.

Three PHS skiers entered the boys’ varsity division. Fisher Mills led the pack, placing 58th with a time of 21:25.10. Kaden Bingham came in 59th place at 25:15.60 with Dylan Covert in 60th place at 26:48.90.

Alyce Hayward took ninth place in the girls’ junior varsity race on Friday, posting a time of 18:45.40.

On Saturday, Mills placed 52nd in boys’ varsity, completing the 7.5-kilometer course in 37:47.20. Bingham crossed the finish line in 56th place at 44:51.10. Covert came in 57th place, clocking in at 48:41.70.

Arne snapped up 11th place in the girls’ junior-varsity 3K race on Saturday with a time of 18:19.20. Hayward placed 13th, timing in at 19:09.40.

Thayne thanked all the community members who volunteered to make the Pinedale Invitational a success.

“I was very grateful to everyone who pitched in and helped coordinate the event,” she said. “It takes a village to put on a race.”

The Nordic ski team returns to the trails after the winter holiday break with the Casper Invitational on Jan. 6-7. Thayne looks forward to watching her young team grow – and continue to get healthy.

“As the kids get more time on the snow, we’ll see big improvements,” she said.