“The competition was about what I expected…maybe just a little harder,” muses Stella Holt of Whitefish’s Glacier Nordic Ski Team. Holt just returned from the 2008 Junior Olympics in Anchorage, where she sailed into the top 10 in the nation in three events and placed 11th in a fourth event.
Competing in the 14- and 15-year-old girls bracket, Holt took a 5th place medal in the five-kilometer skate. “I had wished for the top three, but five was good,” she concedes. Skating is Holt’s forte. But in classic events, she still powered into the top finishes—barely missing medaling with 11th in the grueling sprints and jumping to 8th in the mass start.
“I’m really, really happy with the mass start,” she says. “I had hoped to barely get in top ten.” A shotgun mass start plunges 60 racers off at once; skiers collide, crash, and break equipment. Holt even fell at one point. “The mass start adds a another aspect to racing,” Holt explains. “You have to stay on your feet and pay attention to what’s going on besides going fast and really hard.”
Holt also scored a spot on the Intermountain relay team along with Katie Gill and Kara Baldwin of Bozeman’s Bridger Ski Foundation. Holt skied the first three-kilometer leg, returning to stadium tied with two other girls who drafted off her down the hills. Gill and Baldwin skied strong, aiding the trio in nabbing the silver medal.
After the competition, the Intermountain Team, comprising skiers from Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho, awarded Holt most improved skier. Marshall Opel, a J1 Glacier teammate, also won the award.
The spunky Holt has one more year to go in her age class. Returning again as a J2 next year, she’ll be aiming for more podiums. “Next year looks pretty good,” she laughs. “But a couple girls will still be around, so there’ll be plenty of competition out there.”
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