GILFORD — Local Nordic competitors representing both Gunstock Nordic Association and Gilford Middle and High Schools have begun the 2013/14 season in earnest, training six days per week with head coach, and three-time Olympic gold medalist, Nina Gavrylyuk.
The GNA and Gilford teams are also proud to announce the addition of Kale Poland to the coaching staff. Kale grew up in Maine as a competitive Nordic skier, and most recently has become one of fewer than ten Americans to complete a decatriathlon; an Ironman competition times ten. That's a 240 mile swim, 1,120 mile bike ride and a 262 mile run.
While GNA offers programs for all ages, the present combination of dry-land and gymnasium training is geared toward school competitors, most of whom ski for Gilford. Practices for the Gilford school teams will begin on November 25, with new team members being accepted into early December.
For this coming season Gilford's Mark Young and twins Sander and Seth Valpey, who along with Cal Schrupp and Josh Valentine won two consecutive middle school state championships, will join high school skiers Matthew Young and Ryan Lafrance to make the Gilford boys team a strong contender for the state high school title.
Gilford's Sophie Czerwinski and Gilmanton's Maggie Fillion will be joined this year by Gilford athletes Laura and Becky Zakorchemny and Sophie Sherkanowski, raising similar expectations for the girls team.
Another Nordic discipline, ski jumping, has begun once again to gain traction through GNA and as work continues on the Gunstock jumps, new recruits will be introduced to the sport by former world record holder Mike Holden, who jumped 610 ft. at an event held in Planica, Slovenia in 1985.
On January 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Holden will bring the U.S. Ski Team roller jump to the Gilford Youth Center. The roller jump simulates the ski jumping experience by having participants coast down an aluminum ramp on a small sled and launch themselves into a padded landing area. Kids participate for free, but are required to have prior skiing experience. This year jumping will be further integrated into the GNA Kids Program, which focuses as much on outdoor fun and games as it does on Nordic skiing.
For those who've considered joining GNA but are reluctant to invest in the equipment needed to give it a try, GNA is formalizing its equipment loan program this year. The club has amassed quite a bit of gear, suitable for nearly all sizes and ages, and this gear will be tuned and made available to members at no cost. The club is also seeking donations of equipment that will keep the inventory fresh.
Those interested in Nordic skiing or jumping (or running 262 miles with Kale), are encouraged to visit www.gunstocknordic.com for membership information and listings of events. Look also for events open to non-members, such as paintball biathlons, which will be added throughout the season.