LAKE PLACID - For the first time this week, a local athlete wasn't astride the podium at the end of the third day of competition Friday at the cross-country skiing Junior National Championships.
On Monday, Lake Placid High School graduate Karl Schulz claimed the men's under-20 national title, and on Wednesday his brother Scott Schulz, a junior at Lake Placid, placed second in the U-18 1.5-kilometer sprint race.
But with temperatures below freezing for the first time in four days and snow falling steadily Friday, local skiers performed well, but couldn't earn any podium spots.
Karl Schulz, skiing for the University of Vermont, climbs Flag Pole Hill on the second of his six-lap, 15-kilometer under-20 race Friday in the XC Junior National Championships.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)
Skiing for the New York Ski Educational Foundation, Henry McGrew turned in one of the strongest local finishes of the day. The Lake Placid senior placed 10th in the U-18 10K race with a finish time of 31 minutes, 12.7 seconds. Scott Schulz was three spots back from his high school teammate with a time of 31:42.9, placing 13th out of the field of 91 skiers.
McGrew, who was crowned an individual state champion at the NYSPHSAA meet last week, was quite pleased with his 10th-place finish Friday.
"It was one of my hardest races, I'd say," McGrew said. "I like the 10K more than 15s or 5s. It's a pretty good distance - you're not sprinting it and you're not trying to plan out the whole thing. It's a good distance."
Ben Ogden, of Stratton Mountain School, won the U-18 race in 29:36.5, followed by two Alaskans - Gus Schumacher (29:48.2) and Luke Jager (30:06.2).
This was McGrew's third Junior Nationals, and he said there is a fun social scene that goes along with joy of racing.
"It's just a lot of my friends are into skiing, and it's fun to race against them," McGrew said. "You see them in the race and then you see them after and everyone's happy regardless of how they did."
Saranac Lake also had a few horses in the race, as Ethan Wood (37:09.9) and Lauchlan Cheney-Seymour (36:22.9) were also competing for NYSEF in the Mid-Atlantic Division.
"Most of our races are 5K during the season, (but) we have a 10K here and there," Wood said. "I felt good in the beginning, and then with all this snow coming down it just slowed everything down so much. The downhills became not a rest, but you had to work hard to get down the downhills.
"I think it's so cool that the jumps (the Olympic Jumping Complex) pulled this off. It actually looks like winter here. I have friends from other parts of the country that I've met at races like this and it's so cool to see them here.
"It's been good," Wood said. "Just to see where I stand against all these other kids is really cool."
Another local skier, Royal McDonnell was also competing for NYSEF this week. The home-schooled McDonnell hails from Paul Smiths and finished with a time of 37:01.3, putting him just one slot ahead of Wood.
"(The) course conditions kind of changed about three-quarters of the way through," McDonnell said. "It started snowing a lot, and the tracks got slower than they normally would be."
This is McDonnell's fourth trip to the Junior Nationals. He said he was pleased with trying his hardest and meeting new people.
"It's the energy," he said. "When you get so many people together who have the same interests and the same passion and will to do what they do, you can feel it. It's great."
In the U-20 15K, Karl Schulz broke into the top 10 with a ninth-place finish, clocking a time of 47:18. Saranac Lake native Bryce Hartman finished 33rd out of 61 racers with a time of 50:25.7.
Hunter Wonders, of Alaska, won the 15k in 45:15.7.
Several younger locals have also been skiing on the national stage this week. Saranac Lake freshman Sylvie Linck finished the U-16 5K in just 21:18.9. Lake Placid's James Flanigan (16:00.1), Kai Frantz (16:58.7) and Jesse Izzo (17:22.1) each competed in the boys' U-16 5K.
The XC Junior National Championships wrap up today with 3x3 men's and women's relays in each of the three age groups - U-16, U-18 and U-20.