The need for speed

Steamboat's Marsh Gooding ranks among world's top young racers

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— Steamboat Springs sophomore Marsh Gooding just likes to go fast.

It doesn't matter if he is on the back of his road bike cruising down Rabbit Ears Pass in the summer or on a pair of slalom skis on the snow-covered slopes of Howelsen Hill in the winter he has a need for speed.

"I really want to buy a motorcycle, but I'm not old enough to drive it yet," the 15-year-old speed demon said.

Until then he will just have to settle for going fast on the seat of his road bike as he cruises around the roads in the Steamboat area. There is little doubt in his mind that the trek up Rabbit Ears is well worth the journey back down.

"I like to go all out on it," Gooding said. "I've always liked to go fast."

That explains why Gooding, who is also one of the top J-3 ski racers in the world, had no problem recording three top-20 finishes in last month's Whistler Cup in Canada. The Whistler Cup invites the top 13- through 15-year-old skiers in the world to Canada for a series of races that include slalom, giant slalom and super-G. This year the super-G was canceled, however.

Gooding's top result came in the slalom, where he moved up from a No. 50 starting position to place fourth in the overall standings.

"I didn't do that well in the seeding round, so my start number wasn't that good," Gooding explained.

Still he managed to sneak up on the top seeds in the first run by moving into the top 10. Then he laid down another solid run to place fourth overall.

Gooding also placed 15th in the first giant slalom race and 17th in a second event that was added to replace the super-G, which had to be scratched because of a lack of snow.

"The super-G is probably my favorite event, so I was a little disappointed it had to be canceled," Gooding said.

Gooding said he likes the super-G event because despite the fact he is going very fast on his skis it seems as if things move more slowly than in the giant slalom.

"I have a lot more time to make decisions in the super-G," Gooding said. "It's just a lot of fun and I've always done well at it."

Gooding's coach, Linus Vaitkus, said his skier's showing at the Whistler Cup was amazing.

"He just had an excellent week," Vaitkus said. "He proved that he is one of the top young racers anywhere in the world."

Gooding, however, is taking the top finishes in stride as he prepares for a summer of dry-land training and camps.

"I was surprised that I did so well," Gooding said. "This is a good starting point, but I still realize I have a lot of work to do."

Gooding plans on spending a lot of time on the back of his bike this summer. He said he enjoys cycling, even though he doesn't race bikes competitively, and it has been a great way to stay in shape in the past.

He is also planning on picking up and odd job or two to help pay for a couple of camps he wants to attend this summer.

The first, which Gooding was invited to after qualifying for Whistler, will come this June in Norway. Then if he is lucky, Gooding will be traveling to South America to ski later this summer.

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