N.H. athletes set sights on medals in Sochi

By DAVID LANIER Sentinel Staff

Biathlete Sean Doherty, who began training as a youngster at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center near Conway in the White Mountains, is one of a dozen or so New Hampshire athlete with sights on a Winter Olympics medal in Sochi, Russia.

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Sean Doherty of Conway practices for the biathlon in a recent competition in Italy.

The Winter Games crank up today with preliminary competition in a handful of events. The Opening Ceremony is Friday.

Downhill veteran Bode Miller is the biggest name in the N.H. group, with 33 World Cup titles and five Olympic medals during his career. Now 36, and the oldest Alpine Olympian in U.S. history, Miller grew up skiing at Cannon Mountain and has a trail named after him at Bretton Woods.

There are nearly a dozen more N.H. athletes also looking to add to the U.S. medal count.

Sean is all smiles after making the podium at last year's World Biathlon Championships in Italy.

Sean is all smiles after making the podium at last year’s World Biathlon Championships in Italy.

Doherty, now 18, grew up as a regular participant, along with his family, in the weekly Nordic Meisters cross country ski race series at Great Glen Trails, located in the Pinkham Notch area of the eastern White Mountains.

Doherty began focusing more on the biathlon — a combination of the disciplines of cross country skiing and rifle shooting — in the last six years, with help from Great Glen Trails coach and staff member Eli Walker.

“Sean has worked so hard and has been focused on this goal since he came to us at 12 years and said he wanted to compete in biathlons,” said Doherty’s dad, Dan. “He’s got the talent.

“And he’s got the other half of the equation: hard work.”

Walker said, “You could tell at a young age that this boy had the skills, curiosity and maturity to grow into the talented young man and competitor he is today.

“He’s practically part of the family around here.”

Last year in Obertillicah, Austria, Doherty won a silver medal in the 12.5K sprint at the IBU 2013 Youth/Junior World Championships to become the first U.S. biathlete to win three individual medals in World Championship competition.

The Kennett High graduate also won gold and silver medals earlier in the competition.

“I have nothing but appreciation for all of the support they’ve given me through the years from my friends and the local community,” Doherty said recently. “It’s excellent and I couldn’t ask for better support.”

Miller, who took a year off to recover from a knee injury, has reached the podium in several World Cup events this season and looks poised to add to his Olympic medals count.

Miller is the sixth American to compete in five Winter Olympics. He needs three more medals to match speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno as the most decorated American in the Winter Olympics.

“My fitness is good, the skis are coming around,” Miller told reporters. “I’m hoping that I can put together my best skiing at the Olympics. I think if I do I definitely have the speed to win some medals.”

Andover ski jumper Nick Fairall, 23, also is on the U.S. team. In the sport for 15 years, Fairall is coming off a national title last August.

Lebanon’s Nick Alexander, 25, also will compete in ski jumping. This will be his second Olympics.

In snowboarding, Chas Guldemond, 26, who grew up in Laconia and spent many days and nights at Gunstock Resort and nearby Waterville Valley, will take a shot at a medal in the slopestyle competition.

Guldemond has won 25 major competitions, including the X Games.

Campton cross country skier Kris Freeman, 33, is in the Olympics for the fourth time. He was cut by the U.S. team last season, but the 16-time U.S. champion has since battled back to take a spot.

Another Waterville Valley regular, Hannah Kearney, is competing in her third Olympics in freestyle moguls. She is the defending gold medalist.

Waterville Valley in the southern White Mountains also has ties to freestyle aerial skier Ashley Caldwell, halfpipe skier Annalisa Drew, slopestyle skier Devin Logan, slopestyle boarder Jessika Jenson and U.S. snowboard coach Bill Enos.

Downhill skier Mikaela Shiffin, 18, of Lyme Center and the Lebanon Outing Club, is the defending World Cup champion in the slalom and could become the U.S. breakout star of the Games.

“I’m going to Sochi with such a positive feeling,” she said on a conference call. “I’m coming off a pretty good season. All I know is positive. I’m excited to go and race my heart out and go for the gold.”

Two additional N.H. athletes also are on the Alpine team.

Julia Ford, 23, of Plymouth regrouped from a rash of injuries to earn her first Olympics berth, and Leanne Smith, 26, who grew up on Cranmore Mountain and went to Kennett High, has won two World Cup titles and is ready for her second Olympics.

U.S. downhill skier David Chodounsky isn’t from New Hampshire, but he won the NCAA slalom title as a freshman at Dartmouth and helped the Big Green to the NCAA title as a junior.

 

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Ski Camp for Kids!

During the upcoming February vacation week, Great Glen Trails will be hosting a cross country ski camp for kids called Penguins and Polar Bears. The camp will be held Monday, February 17 through Wednesday, February 19 from 9:30 to 11:30 am. The camp’s activities focus on games and fun, while teaching cross country ski basics.

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The Penguins and Polar Bears Ski Camp is designed for children aged six through eleven. On the first day, games such as Red Light, Green Light; Moose in the Trail; and “Who Stole My Moose?” teach and provide practice for stopping, starting and speed control. One-ski scootering and statue challenges teach weight shift and gliding. Great Glen’s Trails Tracker Character Hunt invites and rewards exploration of the wooded ski trails.

Games of tag and on-ski versions of soccer, speedball and capture the flag are some of the second day’s activities that help develop coordination, agility and balance. There’s more time spent exploring trails, as well as the possibility for stopping by the snow tubing hill for a run or two.

The camp’s final morning revolves around a puzzle hunt on the trail system. Children armed with maps and chaperoned by their adult instructors plan their ski route to find the puzzle pieces dispersed along the trail system. Often by Day three, new friendships have been established and families are meeting for lunches and afternoon trail skis together.

Both Penguins and Polar Bears are led by the Great Glen Trails Ski School Director and Olympian Sue Wemyss, with assistance from qualified staff. Sue has taught and coached cross country skiing for more than 20 years to students of all ages. For many winters now, she has worked with kids at Great Glen Trails ensuring they have fun on snow while learning how to improve their skiing.

Pre-registration for the camp is required. Registration can be made by phoning Great Glen Trails, 603-466-2333 during business hours.

Camp Schedule: Monday, February 17 – Wednesday, February 19 9:30am – 11:30am

Cost: $99 includes three-day camp, trail passes and rentals (if needed).
Single day: $40
Two-day: $75
For the single and two-day options, a phone interview with Camp Director, Sue Wemyss, or Retail Manager, Nathan Harvey, is required for participants to join the camp “late,” i.e. on Day 2, to determine the child’s skiing ability. One-day only participation is not available on Day 3.

Located at the base of Mt. Washington, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center is a year-round destination for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. Winter offerings include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and the one-of-a-kind SnowCoach. Mountain biking, paddling, Nordic walking and trail running are popular in summer. For more information, visit www.GreatGlenTrails.com or call 603-466-2333.

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Great Glen is Proud to Sponsor Olympian, Sean Doherty

PINKHAM NOTCH, NH-Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center is proud to announce its ongoing sponsorship of 2014 Olympic Biathlon Team member Sean Doherty. When Doherty (now 18 years old) began cross country skiing at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center more than a decade ago, it was clear the then little boy was talented and very comfortable on his skis. Flash forward to 2014 and Doherty has become a source of pride to everyone at Great Glen Trails who has known him and watched his extraordinary development.

The Doherty family, including Sean’s dad, Dan, his mother, Mary and brother Andrew have all participated in Great Glen Trails programs and events, including the weekly Nordic Meisters cross country ski race series. It was only in the past six or so years that Sean began his training and competing in the Biathlon world. Among those who helped guide him on this early path was biathlete and Great Glen Trails staff member Eli Walker, who helped expose Doherty to club level biathlon events in New York, Vermont and Maine.

“You could tell at a young age that this boy had the skills, curiosity and maturity to grow into the talented young man and competitor he is today,” Walker noted. “I’m proud to call him a friend and to have helped in any capacity-after all, he’s practically part of the family around here!”

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Sean’s rifle now proudly displays Great Glen’s logo.

Dan Doherty would be the first to agree: “Sean started skiing at Great Glen Trails when he was just seven years old. We definitely consider this place to be our home base for cross country skiing. We’ve participated in all the events here, year round, including running and biking, as well as the weekly Nordic Meisters series…this place is great!” he noted. “Sean has worked so hard and has been focused on this goal since he came to us at 12 years old and said he wanted to compete in biathlons-he’s got the talent, but the other half of the equation is just hard work.”

Having a new local Olympian that calls Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center his “home base” has created a lot of excitement among his many friends and supporters there, who have become accustomed to seeing him grow up on the trail system nestled at the base of the Northeast’s highest peak. “We get to know the families that join us for the endless activities that take place here each year. The Doherty’s are among those who have really made a name for themselves around here and we all feel like we can share the joy in seeing Sean succeed,” said Howie Wemyss, GM of Great Glen Trails and the Mt. Washington Auto Road. “We plan to continue supporting his efforts and training as he proceeds on his remarkable Olympic adventure.”

For more information on Great Glen Trails and Sean Doherty’s time spent training there, contact Howie Wemyss at (603) 466-3988 or visit online at www.greatglentrails.com

 

 

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