What’s the official name of this ski team? Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation XC Gold Team (Sun Valley or SVSEF)
Where is it located? Ketchum, Idaho
Who’s the coach? Chris Mallory
Who’s on the roster this season? Jake Adicoff, Mariah Bredal, Samantha Smith, Bentley Walker-Broose, and Peter Wolter
What’s different now from when I did this last year? Katie Feldman retired from full-time ski racing. Kevin Bolger returned to his Wisconsin roots, journeying east to join Team Birkie. Mariah Bredal comes to the team from BSF. Boise native Samantha Smith has come up through the junior ranks of the broader Sun Valley program, but this year joins the top-level Gold Team, now that she has, you know, multiple World Cup top-30 finishes to her name.
What were some results highlights of last season? Jake Adicoff came into the season with four Paralympic and three World Para Nordic Ski Championship medals to his name, all in the visually impaired class. He followed this up with his most successful global championship to date, taking home four medals from 2023 Para Nordic Worlds in Östersund. Adicoff, together with guide Sam Wood, claimed gold in the skate sprint, then silver in both the 18km interval-start classic and the 10km mass start skate. He was also on the gold-medal relay team in the 4 x 2.5km mixed relay, where he destroyed the anchor leg to bring his team from fourth, at the final handoff, up to a dramatic gold medal by 4.5 seconds ahead of silver.
By the time the 2022/2023 season was halfway over, Samantha Smith had already notched her first career SuperTour podium, two top-eight finishes at U.S. Nationals, and three top-nine finishes at World Juniors. Then she went over to Europe, where she was a revelation. She made eight World Cup starts in March 2023, with a worst finish of 48th; no names, please, but many decorated American skiers have had far less successful debuts at this level. She started four sprints and made the heats in two of them, both in skate, with a best result of 27th; she was an ohsoclose 35th and 36th in qualifying in the other two, both in classic.
And by the way: Smith turned 18 only last Friday, per her public FIS profile, and so achieved all of the above while still only 17 years old. Put another way, she made her World Cup debut while a junior in high school. You may start feeling old now.
Peter Wolter also made his World Cup debut, finishing 54th and 56th in a pair of January distance races in Les Rousses. He started three OPA Cup races in March, with a best finish there of 45th in a 10km skate interval-start race. Standout domestic results included his first career SuperTour win, in the 30km classic at Seeley Hills, and a second in the SuperTour on home snow in Sun Valley. Wolter was also fourth in the 20km classic at U.S. Nationals, less than six seconds off the podium.
Bentley Walker-Broose, who is still only 22, raced broadly. Highlights included a pair of 28th-place finishes at that home SuperTour in Sun Valley, in both the classic sprint and the 15km classic, and two starts at World U23 Championships in Whistler, with a best finish of 54th in the classic sprint qual. Last month Walker-Broose was fifth and seventh in a pair of ANC (Australia/New Zealand Cup, the Oceanian version of the SuperTour) races at Falls Creek.
(And briefly for Mariah Bredal, though she was racing for a different team at the time: Bredal claimed a second and third in the Cable SuperTour weekend, and had four other top-five SuperTour finishes, including fifth in the Birkie. Her best results at OPA Cup Finals were a 20th in the 10km skate and 21st in the 15km classic pursuit. Back home, she had a sixth and ninth in long-distance classic races at “normal” and distance national championships.)
What does the coach have to say? Here’s Chris Mallory:
“Training in the valley went great this summer, and we were fortunate to have zero smoke days. We had around 10 collegiate athletes join the Summer Training Group, which former Gold Teamer Peter Holmes now manages.
“New to the Gold Team this year are Sammy Smith, stepping up from our Comp Team after a breakout World Cup debut last year, and Mariah Bredal who recently joined us from Bozeman. They’ve both had success hopping in a few regional trail running races this summer, and Sammy has spent a good amount of time on the ski treadmill this summer making progress.
“Jake and Peter spent some time training in Oslo over the second half of the summer. Team Aker Daehlie was gracious to bring them into the fold there for some training and Blink Festival support.
“We’re back together now for a September block at home before we target a few camps this fall. We’ll head down to Park City for the National Team camp in October and then get on snow in early November at Frozen Thunder Canmore Camp. With the big North American World Cup swing this season, the crew is excited and working hard, as I’m sure most of the ski community is. So, we’ll try and hit the ground running in Anchorage for Period 1 SuperTour.”
— Gavin Kentch