Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 3:30 PM on Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Junior Olympics just 'amazing'

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News

Homer High School sophomore Cassidy Soistman uses the word "amazing" to describe her experience at the Junior Olympics in Heber City, Utah.

Competing with more than 350 of the top young Nordic athletes from across the nation proved to be an incredible adventure.

"It was amazing. Such a wonderful experience. I wasn't ready to come home when it was over," said Soistman.

Soistman returned to Alaska March 11 with the 55 other members on Team Alaska. She came in 54th place in the 5K classic, 62nd place in the 5K skate, 64th place in the classic sprint, and 20th place in the skate relay.

She skied the skate relay with teammates Ellie Arnold of Grace Christian and Tsana Mahlen of South Anchorage. Team Alaska placed first in the skate relay event.

Total individual points were accumulated for team points. Team Alaska received third place after Team New England in first place and Team Rocky Mountain in second place. Other teams represented at the games were Mid-Atlantic, High Plains, Inner Mountain, Mid West, Great Lakes, Far West and Pacific Northwest.

"New England was our toughest competition. Their training schedule is different from ours and works well for them in order to prepare of the Junior Olympics," said Soistman.

This was Soistman's first Junior Olympics competing in the youngest J2 level.

"The coaches and a lot of the racers were serious. It was my first time and I was an alternate so I wasn't too concerned about my time. I just wanted to do the best I could," said Soistman.

With 55 Alaska athletes in a hotel in the Lower 48, race faces were quickly cracked by smiles with cards games and a Team Alaska talent show.

"One night we all dressed up and went bowling. That was a lot of fun," said Soistman.

The 15-year-old has plans to qualify again next year through the Alaska Cross Country Besh Cup races.

"Next year I'll be 16, which means I will be competing at the J1 level if I go to JOs. It'll be tougher because I'll be the youngest in my age group, but I'm going to try," said Soistman.