In spite of the lack of snow and unseasonably warm temps that continue to limit the number of kilometers available for skiing around Bend, the season for local Nordic skiers at the Bend Endurance Academy (BEA) could not be going better. With several competitors qualified for the XC Junior Nationals to be held in Truckee, CA, in March it is looking to be a banner year for the BEA Nordic program. Bringing together over 400 of the best 14-19 year old skiers representing 10 regions across the country, the XC Junior Nationals is the biggest Junior Cross Country event in North America—and the week of racing has significant implications for aspiring racers as it is serving as the proving grounds for future Olympians.
Among those headed to Northern California to represent Bend is Teddy Widmer, 18, who races in the Under 20 Division and is a senior at Bend High. Widmer has already competed at the national level for the past three seasons, and thanks to constantly fast times and multiple first-place finishes, he recently secured a spot in the 2015 XC Junior Nationals.
In mid-January, Widmer logged his best results at a race meet in Winthrop, WA, and posted times good enough to qualify for this year's XC Junior Nationals; he was joined by five of his BEA teammates. "What helps me is that I am not looking to be the best at these races early in the season, I want my best races to be in March." He adds, speaking confidently. "I don't want to peak too early."
In Widmer's most recent races on January 30 and 31, he was battling not just the grueling course at Soldier Hollow, Utah, which served as the site for the 2002 Winter Olympics, he also was fighting through sickness, with a nagging cold; though, even that didn't seem to slow him down.
"I didn't have the best results," says Widmer, "but I was still a half second away from qualifying for the sprint finals, which I was pretty happy with, but I was really feeling the sickness."
While Widmer continues to post exceptional results, his performance within the BEA program is not an exception.
"This season we have had a lot of really good results through all of our age groups U(nder)-16, U-18, U-20." Widmer adds, "We have Alex Heisler, a U16 girl who is also up at the top. Sam Biskup, he's a U16 and he's been one of the top ranking athletes for all our races. It's really cool to have those guys with me in competitions, it helps motivate you to be better, train harder, and really get that focus."