Skiers await Sochi

Methow skiers in line for Olympics

The outlook remains great for four cross country skiers with ties to the Methow Valley to reach the Olympics in a couple weeks in Sochi, Russia.

Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, along with Brian Gregg, remain in contention for the U.S. Nordic team.

Casey Smith is in the running for the U.S. Biathlon team.

The graduates of the Methow Valley Nordic Team will learn Jan. 22 who makes the U.S. teams.

Erik Bjornsen, Brian Gregg, Caitlin Gregg and Sam Naney reached the podium Jan. 4-10 at 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah.

“The annual championships take on extra significance in an Olympic year, as top competitors strive to show that there is no doubt that they are Olympic material,” said Patricia Leigh with Methow Valley Nordic Team.

“Com-peting against a field of 350 skiers from around the country, Methow Valley skiers had standout performances.”

Smith recently took first place overall at the U.S. Biathlon Olympic trial races in Grand Rapids, Minn. He currently is competing in Italy.

Kelsie Dickinson, a Methow Valley Biathlon Team graduate, has the honor of representing the U.S. at the World Youth and Junior Biathlon Championships, as well at the Open European Championships later this month, Leigh said.

All five athletes are eligible for financial assistance.

The U.S. Olympic Cross Country Ski Team sifts through the Top 50 men or women in distance or sprint on the World Cup circuit for nominations to the team.

Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, is one of seven women to meet the objective criterion thus far, Leigh said.

For racers on the U.S. domestic circuit, such as Erik Bjornsen and Brian Gregg, making the Olympic squad is not as straightforward, Leigh said.

“After the World Cup-ranked skiers are identified, the next nominations are discretionary selections, made by the U.S. head coach, of those showing potential to succeed in the Olympics, Leigh said.

If there are still spots remaining, discretionary selections are made with the selection committee using the ISF cross country points, said Leigh, a former U.S. Olympics Nordic skier.

The races at the Ski Championships in Soldier Hollow are scored to this list.

The U.S. quota of 16 cross country skiers for the Olympics was announced Sept. 1. That could be increased to as many as 20 (no more than 12 of one sex), Leigh said.

“However, The U.S. won’t necessarily fill their quota,” she said. “They didn’t fill it in 2010.”

An article and results from a junior rifle match got Omak’s Ralph Malone thinking on the state’s junior shooters.

Malone said an article about Natasha Pitre, 17, besting the guys at a Camp Perry shoot recently caught his eye in the Dillon Precision Catalog.

Malone, along with Chad Cleveland, Spencer Cleveland, Brian Carlton and Mack McLean, competed in the field against Pitre at the same 2012 state service rifle championship in Richland.

Nitre won the 1,000-yard match in August this year at Camp Perry.

“I mean she won the match,” Malone said. “Not the high junior, not the high woman, but won the whole thing. Even against the guys that were using scopes, bipods and sandbags.”

In 2007, a two-girl team from Washington state called the Washington Bad Applettes won the Whistler BOY Trophy, which is a two-person junior team match fire using service rifles and fired at the national matches in Camp Perry.

“As you can tell from the name of the trophy, most of the shooters in that event are junior boys, but it seems the girls shoot better,” Malone said.

“I send this to you because I am proud of what some of our Washington junior shooters have accomplished, and also to encourage any of you to join the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association,” Malone said.”

Dylan Green, a redshirt freshman at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., returned home the last couple weeks, spending time with family, friends and in the Omak High School wrestling room.

Green, a state wrestling and powerlifting champion, played on special teams and was a backup running back for the Saints this fall.

“The running back in front of me broke the school’s single-season rushing record,” said Green, 20. “We rotate backs.”

No. 3 NAIA ranked Carroll College fell 34-27 in overtime of the national FCS semifinals Dec. 7 to the No. 1 ranked University of Cumberlands in Kentucky.

“We were one game away from playing for the national championship,” Green said. “We are going to be just as good next year.”

The Spokane Indians minor league baseball team recently announced a new home alternate uniform for the 2014 season — a uniform that uses the Salish logo as well as the name Spokane in the native language.

“Spoaqin” will be featured in lettering across the front chest.

“We welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with our namesake professional baseball team on this project,” said Rudy Peone, chairman of the Spokane Tribe. “We view this collaboration as a significant opportunity to educate thousands of baseball fans about the language and culture of the Spokane Tribe of Indians – this city’s first inhabitants.”

In 2006, the Spokane Indians and the Spokane Tribe of Indians collaborated on a rebranding of the baseball team’s logo by using local native imagery.

Someone stepped forward to oversee the Okanogan sixth-grade boys AAU basketball team the rest of this winter.

“I actually had a couple people step up,” league commissioner Ryan Lafferty said of Kolby Marchand and Scott McIlhenny. “One due to the article and one from a mom that really wanted her kid to play and went out and found someone.”

About seven boys signed up for the team, but couldn’t play due to a lack of a coach.

“I received call the night before last and it looks like we have a coach,” said Tamantha Anderson over the weekend. She has a son wanting to play.

The first practice is 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“Both my son and I are excited,” Anderson said.

The latest in league organization following reclassification finds Kettle Falls (formerly 1A) and Columbia Academy (formerly 1B) out of Spangle moving to the Northeast 2B League.

Also joining the 2B ranks will be Wilbur-Creston and Waterville (which plays in a combined District 6-7 league) from 1B ranks.

Waterville and Soap Lake, also moving to the 2B ranks, play football in a combined District 6-7 league.

No schools in District 7 are moving from 2B to 1B.

Inchelium and Columbia in Hunters will go back to each having one team next fall. They have been combined as the Timberwolves the last couple years.

District 7 athletic directors were meeting today to decide league alignments.

The possibilities include two divisions for football and possibly moving a northern team to the southern division to balance the leagues in basketball.

Chandler Smith of Brewster and Justin Rivas of Okanogan are on a list of nominees from Washington State seeking to play in the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Games to be played April 3 at the United Center in Chicago.

This will be the 36th year (12th on the girls side) for the prestigious event.

Also on the list is Dylan Boyd of Cashmere, who recently surpassed 1,000 points in his career.

The Colville Tribal Resident Fish Hatchery and Rufus Woods Creel and Supplementation Staff tagged and released more than 700 triploid rainbow trout ranging from 5 to 6-plus pounds each into Lake Rufus Woods on Jan. 7.

An attached green floy tag can identify the fish. Anglers that retain tagged fish are encouraged to contact the number located on the tag and provide tag number, date, location and the approximate size of fish caught.

This information assists tribal biologists in managing annual fish releases.

Teams are still being sought for the annual Nespelem All Indian Basketball Tournament planned for Feb. 14-16 in Nespelem, Coulee Dam and Grand Coulee.

“Players are coming from all over the Northwest, Montana and North Dakota,” organizer Larry Jordan said.

Those interested can contact Jordan at 509-429-1667.

An added attraction not normally thought of for the upcoming Ice Fishing Festival over Presidents Day weekend in February – bird watching.

While checking out fishing and ice conditions last week, Robin Stice spotted a variety of ducks wintering in open water.

“Usually golden eyes go south,” said Stice of Eden Valley Guest Ranch. “There were also mallards. We are seeing a lot of birds this winter. I have not had any winter birders at the resort this year. We have many species of owls, hawks and woodpeckers plus bald eagles and other flocks between Eden Valley and Sidley Lake.”

The Brewster girls (12-0) are ranked No. 1 and the Okanogan boys (12-0) are ranked No. 2 in the News Tribune in Tacoma poll posted Sunday.

Cashmere (12-0) is ranked No. 2 for the girls.

Brewster was to play at Cashmere on Tuesday.

The Okanogan girls (11-2), who recently fell to Cashmere and Brewster, were ranked No. 4.

Al Camp is the sports editor for The Chronicle. Email him at sports@omakchronicle.com.

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