Magill named to Junior World Championships squad, teammate named an alternate
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In his first year eligible for the Junior World Championships, 18-year-old cross country skier Wally Magill was named to the Junior World Team. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete is one of six male team members bound for the 2021 U23 and Junior FIS Cross Country World Championships in early February in Vuokatti, Finland, according to a news release from U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
“I think I’ve prepared pretty well, and I think I’m ready to take the next step and compete on that high level,” Magill said.
In her final year of eligibility, Steamboat’s Waverly Gebhardt was named first alternate for the women’s Junior World Championships team.
At 18, Magill is one of the younger skiers on the Junior Worlds team, but he and his coach Joshua Smullin are confident he can keep pace.
“He’s a hard worker; he’s organized,” Smullin said. “What’s unique about him is his ability to show up to big races and put forth good performances. He has a proven history of doing that.”
Magill got a taste of big European stages last year at the U18 championships in Sweden where he posted a top-15 finish. Smullin doesn’t want to put pressure on Magill by guessing how he’ll fare at the next level, but Smullin is definitely confident of Magill’s abilities.
“He was competing at this level last year, and he’s raised his game,” Smullin said. “Through all this weird time, he’s taking advantage of it. He trains quite hard, and he’s reaping the rewards of it.”
Magill hasn’t been able to compete much since races are few and far between, but last weekend at Soldier Hollow, he finished first among U18 racers in both the 10K freestyle race and the 20K mass start classic.
“It’s super fun to finally test what you’ve been working all year on and compete against some other really fast kids,” Magill said.
Gebhardt will go to Finland, too, if one of the six females ahead of her is unable to compete. She also was first alternate last year, narrowly missing out on a spot by one place in the qualifiers. The previous year, she competed at Junior Worlds.
“This year, quite frankly, I thought that she would be named and not an alternate,” Smullin said. “This year, we’re just forced to name teams through a combination of past results and this year.”
Since there were so few races early in this racing season, the teams were named while considering a combination of previous competitions as well as recent ones.
“The committee that’s elected (to choose teams) did the best they could,” Smullin said.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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