JC Schoonmaker + Hannah Halvorsen Give Back
Tahoe’s cross-country skiing community is small, but mighty. Recently it produced two athletes that headed off to the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing: Hannah Halvorsen and JC Schoonmaker. Hannah grew up in Truckee, while JC is from Tahoe City (as were four generations behind him). They were both trained by a chain of local coaches, and heartily cheered on by the entire nordic community when they reached the big stage.
What They're Up To These Days...
Now JC continues to race with the US Ski Team working his way up through a super competitive Men’s Team (and then of course there are those pesky Norwegians). Hannah has transitioned out of World Cup skiing into coaching for the Harvard University cross-country ski team.
Over the past six weeks these local athletes returned to Tahoe XC and delivered presentations that focused on overcoming obstacles and what they learned from their journey into the upper echelon of cross-country skiing. Fortunately a number of our local young ski athletes were in the audience at the presentations, learning how they can reach their dreams.
Hannah Halvorsen Presents
Hannah Halvorsen spoke on December 27 to a crowd of 30 who braved a super stormy night to hear her presentation: “Consistency and Integrity: How to Develop a True Olympic Mindset.” The workshop was designed to provide cross-country athletes and the rest of us with the tools to reach our personal goals. She told about overcoming challenges, which she has had her share of, including being hit by a car in an Anchorage, Alaska crosswalk in the fall of 2019. She was severely injured and it was just before she was about to head to race in the World Cup in Europe.
Event attendee Thomas McConnon was impressed with “her openness about how she deals with nervousness before races, great for all of us to hear but especially for the kids.”
Mark Johnson’s twin daughters Nikki and Britta are Tahoe XC Comp Team Members who have been winning lots of races this season. Johnson said, he was impressed with Hannah’s motivating strategies “to get you going when you don’t want to.”
JC Schoonmaker Presents
JC Schoonmaker’s presentation was on January 15th. He stopped to present during a brief Tahoe visit, in between traveling from a busy World Cup racing season in Europe and competing in the World Junior Championships in Whisler, Canada. He shared stories about his personal experience of skiing with the best in the world. JC talked about how important it is to get past the negative experiences and don’t give up. For the young athletes who have been skiing at Tahoe XC since they were small, it was especially important to hear from a former Strider Glider kid.
Olesya and Vasily Karnickis have known JC since he was very young. Olesya said after the presentation, “It was so great to see JC and listen to his Olympic and World level journey. JC is such a great example for kids in the community as well as a great reminder to all of us that perseverance and discipline can help you go far in reaching your dreams.”
Their son Luka, a Tahoe XC Team member added, “when he was talking about his negative feelings or his nervousness about a race, he said what he did against those feelings, which I actually use in my races now.”
Glenn Rawlinson, father of Walker, a nordic athlete at Sugar Bowl Academy, said, “It was such a great opportunity for parents, student athletes and the broader community to meet and learn from two local Olympians in life, school and athletics. Two local heroes right in our backyard,”
“It was so great to see JC again and listen to him share his very real ups and downs on a world cup elite level,” said Lisa Spinazze, “JC was our daughter’s first Devo coach, he is her favorite person in the world she says because he is so real. He said the ‘nerves are always gonna be there just don’t let them cripple you’ and his perspective on what the rewards are for the sacrifices was incredible.”
A Few Personal Reflections from Blogger, Tim Hauserman
On a personal note it is so exciting for me to hear of the successes of Hannah Halvorsen and JC Schoonmaker. While I never coached Hannah, I’ve always been impressed with her dedication to the sport. In March 2020, four months after her serious car accident in Anchorage, I met up with her at Tahoe Forest Hospital for an interview for a story I was writing for Cross Country Skier magazine. She had just come from a session with her physical therapist, and was working hard to recover from her injuries. Two years later she would fight her way back to the Olympics. (At the time of her interview we had no idea that a week later, the world would shut down because of Covid and a hospital was the last place you wanted to be). I remember last year several of Hannah’s younger siblings participated in Strider Gliders, and did quite well in the Kids Great Ski Race.
I’ve always been super impressed with the positive attitude and work ethic of JC Schoonmaker, and his willingness to pass on what he knows to others. He was on the Strider Glider Red Team in 4th and 5th grade that I coached, as well as the Strider Gliders Biathlon. He always skied with a passion while having a great time hanging out with his friends. Just a few years later he was a foot taller and twice as fast, and very much dedicated to his skiing. More recently, whenever he gets the chance he comes back to give back to Tahoe XC. It’s always fun seeing him out training on the Tahoe XC trails being a positive role model for the next generation of Tahoe XC skiers.