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Nordic skiing: Northland Nordic skiers converge on Giants Ridge for Section 7 meet

Sprint relay races are part of the section and state lineups this year.

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Duluth East’s Ian Morse (631) nears the finish line of the classic race at the state Nordic ski meet last March at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
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DULUTH — The Section 7 Nordic ski meet is Wednesday, Feb. 9, at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

The meet kicks off with the boys classic five-kilometer race, with one skier taking off every 30 seconds. The girls Classic race is at 10:45 a.m.

New this year is the team sprint relays, with boys sprint qualifying races at noon and 12:20 p.m. followed by the girls at 12:40 p.m. and 1 p.m. The boys and girls sprint finals will be at 1:30 and 2 p.m., respectively.

“The relay is adding quite a twist to sections,” Duluth East coach Bonnie Fuller-Kask said. “It’s a lot to fit into one day. The relay is worth lots of points, so it will be a very important part of the day. The relay will be two skiers each skiing twice using skate technique.”

Each skier will do the 1.3K loop around the stadium at Giants Ridge, tag their partner, then do it again, so four loops total, good for 5.2K, or 2.6K per skier.

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The meet culminates with the boys 5K freestyle pursuit race at 2:45 p.m. and the girls at 3:30 p.m. There will be an awards ceremony at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s forecast for Biwabik calls for cloudy skies and a high of 23 degrees, with a 10 to 20 mph wind.

Led by Ian Morse and Lily Brown, Duluth East has been winning races all winter. Morse and Oliver Miatke help give the Greyhounds a one-two punch.

“I think they have a very good chance of winning at sections but ... anything can happen,” East coach Bonnie Fuller-Kask said.

The top two teams and next four individuals in the pursuit, and next relay, advance to next week’s state meet at Giants Ridge. The state meet will be on two days this year, Wednesday, Feb. 16, and Thursday, Feb. 17, with classic technique on Wednesday and freestyle relay and pursuit racing on Thursday.

In a section primer Feb. 1 at Hidden Valley in Ely, Miatke, Morse, Ely’s Gabriel Pointer, Proctor/Hermantown’s Aiden VanStraten and East’s James Kyes took the top five boys spots.

Among girls, it was Brown, Proctor/Hermantown’s Della Bettendorf, Ely’ Zoe Devine and East’s Lydia Kraker and Jenna Johnson.

In the sprint relays, the Grand Rapids, Duluth East and Ely girls did well, as did the Mesabi East, Proctor/Hermantown and Ely boys.

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“Duluth East has a dynamite team — boys and girls — and it will be crazy tight for the second-place team between Ely, Proctor/Hermantown and Cloquet-Esko-Carlton,” said meet manager Deb Maki. “Plus Mora has joined Section 7 Nordic — not sure where they will fit in — but I heard they have some contenders, too. It will be very interesting.”

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