Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has built a reputation for producing top ski jumpers, Nordic combined skiers, snowboarders and Alpine skiers.
But last weekend in Montana, five Winter Sports Club juniors let the rest of the country know that the Yampa Valley is home to an elite group of telemark skiers. Steamboat skiers fared well during the U.S. Telemark Nationals at the Big Mountain Ski resort near Whitefish, Mont.
The nationals were a combination of four events. The competition opened with giant slalom and dual slalom events Friday. On Saturday, racers competed in the sprint classic -- a blend of Alpine slalom racing and classic cross-country skiing with a banked turn and jump for kicks. There also was a classic race March 19. The race was the same as the sprint, but the cross-country portion of the event was a bit longer.
Steamboat coach Ken Recker said 7-year-old Max Powers and his brothers highlighted the Steamboat team's showing.
Max collected 67 points during the competition en route to winning the junior men's national title. His brother Scott was second, and his other brother, Erik, was fourth. Max was second in the giant slalom, first in the dual slalom, third in the sprint classic and third in the classic. Scott, who suffered an injury before the competition, finished third in the giant slalom, second in the dual slalom, fourth in the sprint and second in the classic.
"Most of the junior class was from Steamboat Springs," Recker said. "We've got one of the biggest programs anywhere in the country right now."
Recker said the field at the nationals was smaller than most of the competitions the team attends, but the level of competition was very good.
Lorin Paley competed in the elite women's division, which was one of the more competitive classes at the nationals. Her top result came in the sprint classic, in which she placed second. She looked strong early in the giant slalom, as well, posting the third-fastest time in her first run. But she fell in the second run, dropping to sixth overall. She did not compete in the dual slalom and placed seventh in the classic race. Her combined effort earned her a fifth-place overall finish.
Steamboat's Elizabeth Kle--mer raced in the junior women's class. She was the only racer in that division, so she won all the races.
"It's too bad that she didn't have anyone to race against. It's tough," Recker said. "But if you compare her times to the junior men, she did very well."
Other winners at this year's nationals included Kelsey Schmid-Sommer, who topped the elite women, and Reid Sabin, who won the elite men's class. Kristian Nabozney won the citizen men's race, and Michelle McCartney topped the citizen women's race. Tory Hauser won the master men's class.
Recker hopes to continue to build support for telemark racing in Steamboat. Last year, he took two racers to nationals.
The size of Steamboat's programs has doubled each of the past three years, and Recker hopes to bring the 2007 Telemark Nationals to Steamboat.