Lane Shipley and Ashley Stamp enjoyed the rare taste of international competition last week at the Sierra Wireless Whistler Cup in British Columbia, Canada.
But it was the kind of taste that left the two ski racers from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club hungry for more.
"It was a wake-up call," J3 racer Shipley said. "The nine kids in my age group have all proven that they are the best in the United States. But now we have seen the best in the world. I feel good about my finishes, but I know I still have some more work to do."
Shipley placed ninth in the slalom and super-G events. He also was 21st in the giant slalom despite getting off to a slow start in the races, which were held Friday through Sunday.
Racers took part in three seeding runs at the start of the week to determine their start positions, and Shipley fell in two of them. Because of his falls, the Steamboat skier started the slalom and super-G races in the 52nd position. His spot was a little better in the giant slalom, where he was seeded 48th.
"After the time trials, I had nothing to lose," Shipley said. "I couldn't do anything about it, so I just decided to go for it in the actual races, and it paid off."
Stamp, his teammate, raced in the younger J4 division. Her top finish came in the slalom, where she was seventh. She also was 14th in the giant slalom.
"I was really surprised that I did so well," Stamp said. "When I left, I was just hoping to finish in the top 30, so I was really excited."
Winter Sports Club coach Ryan Barclay said the finishes by the Steamboat skiers were awesome but that the experience of an international event was even more rewarding for the coaches and the athletes who took part in it.
"It was so much fun to get to meet other ski racers from around the world," Shipley said.
Shipley qualified for the Whistler Cup twice in his career. He went two years ago as a second-year J4 and this year as a J3. Both times he felt the experience helped his skiing career.
"Lane's skied amazingly well, especially when you consider where he started the races," said Winter Sports Club coach Tom Becker. "I was totally impressed by his ability to put the (qualifying) behind him and get the job done in the races.'
Becker said that if Shipley had earned a better starting position, he might have been on the podium.
"'If' is kind of the big word in ski racing," Becker said. "There is no doubt that his starting position hurt him, but who knows what would have happened."
As it turned out, the Norwegian and Austrian racers dominated the podium. The Americans, however, turned in an impressive showing with three racers in the top 10 of both the slalom and super-G events.
Norway's Andreas Haug won the slalom race, and teammate Markus Nilsen took the title in the giant slalom. Austrian Marcel Hirscher topped the super-G results for the men.
Both Steamboat coaches were impressed with Stamp's results in her first international competition.
Norway's Lotte Sejerstedt won the women's giant slalom and teammate Kristina Johannessen-Riis topped the women's slalom. The j4 girls did not race in a super-G event.