Tahoe’s Best Going to Winter Olympics
Photo Cred: Snow Industry Official Beijing 2022 Olympic Emblem, learn more here.
North Tahoe Olympians
North Tahoe has long been home base for a steady supply of top notch skiers and snowboarders who have gone around the world to compete at the highest levels, including in the Olympics. This year in addition to a cadre of great alpine skiers and snowboarders a pair of cross-country skiing kids who grew up in Tahoe City and Truckee are joining the Olympic parade:
JC is such a Tahoe City kid that he has grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents that lived here. He started skiing as a wee tyke with his mom Marty, then fell in love with cross-country skiing in Strider Gliders. By the time JC was at North Tahoe High School, he was training with the excellent group of Devo and Comp coaches that have turned Far West into a powerhouse for cross-country ski talent. Marty says that an especially memorable coach for JC was Tahoe XC Executive Director Ben Grasseschi. Now, JC has not only made it to the World Cup stage, but has hopes for a top finish in the Olympics. JC became National Champion in the freestyle sprint just last month, as well as taking a 3rd place in the 15K classic race. And against the best racers in the world he has raced for several top ten finishes in World Cup events and is now on the US Ski Team A Team.
JC Atop a Mountain
Hannah is the oldest of six siblings in a cross-country skiing family from Truckee. Halvorsen started cross-country skiing at the age of two, and by the time she was in her sophomore year at Sugar Bowl Academy she made the US Ski Team’s U18 team, which includes the best female skiers in the country under 18 years old. In 2019 she raced in her first World Cup, in Dresden, Germany, and made it onto the US Ski Team D Team. While cross-country skiing is always challenging, Hannah faced and overcame something that for many would have been insurmountable: She was hit by a car in Anchorage, Alaska in November 2019 and suffered serious injuries. Surgeries, and a lot of hard work and dedicated training, brought her all the way back to the US Olympic Team for 2022. In December 2021, she was back in Dresden, this time making it all the way to the semi finals of the Dresden World Cup Sprint, and placed 7th, the highest spot for an American.
Hannah with Her Siblings
North Tahoe High School grad AJ Hurt has garnered two national titles and a Bronze Medal at the World Juniors in 2021. While she is making a great success of herself as a downhill skier, I have fond memories of her time as a cross-country skier in Strider Gliders. She was in a great group of 4th and 5th graders that included her older brother and JC Schoonmaker. I will never forget that look of fortitude on her face as she was determined to keep up with the older boys.
Bryce a downhill specialist is from Tahoe City. He picked up his first World Cup win just this past December, winning the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Val Gardena, Italy. This will be his second trip to the biggest stage as he also competed in the 2018 Olympics.
Travis is a veteran skier from Alpine Meadows competing in Downhill (DH) and Super-G (SG). He is a two- time Olympian, competing in Sochi in 2014 and Beijing in 2022. He has had two World Cup DH wins in Santa Caterina (see video here), Italy in 2014 and in Garmisch, Germany in 2017 (see video here) as well as a World Championship Silver Medal in DH at Beaver Creek, Colorado in 2015. He has had 4 top 10 finishes this season in DH and SG, including a Bronze Medal in the SG in Beaver Creek. Travis grew up Nordic racing at Tahoe XC and now enjoys cross training on those same trails.
Small Community, Nordic Focus
North Tahoe is a small community, and with a focus on nordic skiing, the circle becomes tighter. Together, Tahoe XC, Far West, Truckee and North Tahoe High School, Auburn Ski Club, Sugar Bowl Academy, etc have been sharing in the camaraderie of cross-country skiing for years. While the common thread is skiing, it is woven together with youth athletes and the goal of sport longevity. Executive Director, Coach Ben met many of these families and coached these athletes during his tenure at Auburn Ski Club from 2000-2013. There are two more athletes that are dear to Coach Ben and trained under him in this tight knit North Tahoe cross-country community.
Joanne is from Palo Alto but for a number of years trained extensively in the Tahoe region with Far West Nordic. Her mother Beth Heiden Reid won speed skating medals in the Olympics as well as several Great Ski Races. And her Uncle is Eric Heiden, one of the most decorated speed skaters in history. She competed as a biathlete in the 2018 Olympics and is set to join the biathlon team again in Beijing.
Joanne Reid, Biathlon
Russell was raised and trained in the Truckee area, but started cross-country racing for Canada in 2010. He raced in the 2018 Olympics and served as a guide in the paraolympic games for visually impaired skier Brian McKeever. They won the gold in a 1.5 km sprint race. He has been racing well the past two seasons, and is as of this writing an alternate to the competitive Canadian Olympic team.
As we watch the 2022 Winter Olympics, our cheer goes for Team USA and our thoughts are with the athletes. We are so proud of them and inspired by their passion and hard work all in the name of cross-country skiing!
Join us for an Olympic Sprint Watch Party at Sunnyside, hosted in partnership with Far West Nordic on Tuesday at 5:00pm, Feb 8 at Sunnyside Restaurant. We’ll be cheering for NT Olympians Hannah Halvorsen and JC Schoonmaker as they race the freestyle sprint in Beijing. Come support our skiers, and watch them on the big screens with us! This event is a fundraiser for Tahoe XC and Far West Nordic.