Bozeman skiers excel internationally

Bozeman's young women bring home one of the best results ever for the Americans in the Scandinavian Cup. We've known Sarah, Ase and Erika since they were little -- they were classmates of Becky's at Hawthorne Elementary School. Now they're all at Bozeman High. Couldn't be more proud of these young women.

Local skiers exceed expectations in Norway
Source: Mike Kiefer of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Bridger Ski Foundation's �se Carlson, Kate Dolan and Erika Flowers might have expected to haul home luggage heavier than when they had left for Norway.

Gifts, souvenirs, maybe some samples from the Swix wax factory.

No one expected to carry the burden of high expectations among the national cross country skiing community.

But that's what you get after contributing to one of the better performances for an American team in the Scandinavian Cup last week at Gjorzk, Norway.

Carlson finished seventh in the 5K skate with a time 13:17, placing highest among the Americans competing at the premier international competition. Dolan and Flowers finished 21st and 24th.

"That is huge," BSF coach Dragan Danavski said. "That is one of the best results ever for the Americans in the Scandinavian Cup."

Fifteen-year-old Carlson's top-ten finish was one a highlight for the American team, which otherwise struggled with equipment failure and crashes in the relays and sprints.

The performance was all the more of a surprise because Carlson, Dolan and Flowers had jumped an age bracket to qualify for the Scandinavian Cup.

"Even if she (Carlson) would have been sixteen or seventeen that would have been unexpected," Danavski said. "But she is fifteen."

Carlson said she was both surprised by her finish and humbled by the level of competition, which featured the best skiers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and the United States.

"It was really humbling," she said. "The girls, they're really focused and dedicated. It was cool to see such enthusiasm for the sport."

The results from competition were a side note for Bozeman's skiers, who had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Norway, training in former Olympic facilities and touring the country.

"It was great to get another coaches' points of view," Dolan said. "And skiing with a whole other group of people was really neat."

Flowers only complaint was that her stomach didn't sit too well with the Norweigians fish-heavy diet.

Their taste for skiing on the other hand was a great surprise.

"If we were in the U.S. and we were walking down Main Street with our skis and our cross country clothes on," Flowers said. "People would give you weird looks.

"In Norway, we would see people in their late 70s and really little kids (skiing)."

Flowers, Carlson and Dolan have a week to recover from their jet lag before they depart for junior nationals, the premier event of BSF's junior season in Tahoe, Calif.

"We now have high expectations," said Danavski, who is taking 12 teenage qualifiers to Tahoe for the start of competition on March 7.

"Most of them have already skied at junior nationals, and for that age they are experienced."

Danavski expects the Bridger Ski Foundation to perform well as a team in both the Intermountain region and the girls high school division.

As for Carlson, Flowers and Dolan, their challenge will be living up to the attention they've received in the last week.

"Now we have to see how all three girls, especially �se, can ski under the pressure. Now everyone in the country expects her to do well. We'll help her to ski her best and not be thinking what other people are doing."

All three girls said they only wanted to improve from their performances last year. But Carlson expected things to be easier following the trip to Norway.

"More race experience is always beneficial," she said. "Also when it's put in perspective, junior nationals will seem a little less important."

Skiers who qualified for junior nationals in Tahoe Calif.

J2 Girls

�se Carlson

Kate Dolan

Erika Flowers

Sarah Pierce

Gretchen Sfelgren

Casey Sibert

J1 Girls

Mellie Park

Emily Allison

Claire Rydell

JO Boys

Dylan Mogk

Tim Downy

Patrick Caroll