Forty five of the top Telemark racers from 8 nations, including seven from Steamboat Springs, CO, will compete in the US series of Telemark World Cup races February 12-18, hosted by Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
After stops in Slovenia and Norway, the competition moves to Steamboat Springs. The competition is fierce with seven men who have finished in the top three positions in the races to date. Phillipe Lau of France is the current leader in the overall points, however Bastien Dayer , Switzerland and Tobias Mueller, Germany, are not far behind. In the women’s competition, the reigning champion of the past few years, Amelie Reymond of Switzerland is being challenged by Sigrid Rykhus of Norway who was the women’s champion prior to Reymond’s reign. They are currently tied in overall points.
The USA will have 13 racers entered in this event. Cory Snyder of Franconia, NH has competed in all of the European WC events this season with a career best finish of 9th place in Rjukan, Norway this past week and is currently 16th overall. Steamboat Springs racer Madi McKinstry is returning home this week after racing in Norway. Zoë Taylor of Atlanta, GA and Steamboat spent time racing in Slovenia in January. All three are looking forward to racing on home snow and in front of US supporters.
Other racers from Steamboat Springs include Jeffrey Gay, Charlie Dresen, Tanner Visnick, Rick Walters, Katie Ross and Aiden Rohde. Rounding out the US team will be Tommy Gogolen of Breckenridge, CO who is returning after knee surgery last fall, Birk Larsen of Park City, UT, Chris Henery of McCall, ID and Josh Lanzetta of Rye, NH. Coach of the US team is Ty Upson of Steamboat Springs.
Telemark ski racing involves skiing gates, just as the alpine events do. But add a jump that requires the racers meet a distance line when landing, a 360˚ banked turn and a skate ski section and Telemark becomes its own unique sport which combines the best of nordic and alpine skills.
There are three types of Telemark races. The Classic race course incorporates all elements of a Telemark race, and can be 3 minutes in length for the fastest racers and requires tremendous endurance to skate a lengthy distance after completing the rest of the course. The Classic is a one run race and is so challenging that most racers cross the finish line and collapse on the snow in complete exhaustion. Often racers from other teams help the racer to remove their skis while they lay on the snow. The Classic races will be held on Mt. Werner on February 13 and 14. The Sprint Classic race is a shorter version of the Classic and is a two run event. The Sprint Classic Races will be run February 16 and 18 at Howelsen Hill.
The Parallel Sprint is a new event that was added to World Cup competition this year. This event will be held Friday evening, February 17 at Howelsen Hill. It is a head to head, single elimination format and will be exciting for the spectators who can see all the action from the bottom of the hill. Madi McKinstry is the only US racer to have competed in this new event when it was held in Norway last week. At the World Cup level, only 8 women and 16 men can qualify for the head to head finals. Madi qualified in 8th position, meaning she had to race the 1st place finisher. Following the race, Madi said, “I was still miles behind, and came smiling and skating into the finish. What I learned from today? This new event is the most fun thing about the sport, even though it takes all day and makes me feel uber jittery?”
This World Cup event begins with Opening Ceremonies at Howelsen Hill on Saturday February 11. The opening Ceremonies has been described as “BIG” by event organizer, Chad Bowdre. He expects the event to draw many of the locals to celebrate the sport, the athletes and the event which is returning to Steamboat after its debut two years ago. When the racing begins, there should be plenty of cowbells cheering on the racers.
For additional information and daily results, see www.ustsa.org