Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Steamboat Springs-based members of the U.S. Telemark team said the hardest part about competing in World Cup events during a swing through Europe last month was the weather.
"It rained," said Lorin Paley, a national ski team member and Steamboat Springs High School student. "And it was icy. It was a lot warmer there.
"There was a lot of attrition in the races just because of the conditions."
Fortunately, the team won't have to hop on an airplane and travel a few thousand miles to enjoy rainy, slushy skiing conditions. It's a sensation the team may get plenty of this week at the U.S. Telemark National Championships, the four-day, free-heel bonanza that gets under way today in Steamboat.
A few days of 50-degree weather and a week's forecast that doesn't include a single day below freezing won't stop the event, director Shane Anderson said. The event includes competitions today and Friday at the Steamboat Ski Area, then races Saturday and Sunday at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat. Event coordinators plan to treat the runs with salt in hopes of drying up the wet spring-style snow.
"That should make it firm and make for a good race," Anderson said. "If it does actually freeze, it will be very firm and will be a very challenging hill."
Organizers are expecting about 75 racers for the event, which kicks off at 10 a.m. today with the telemark giant slalom race down the Sitz and See Me runs at the ski area.
The giant slalom course will include a mid-run jump.
The classic telemark race a day later on the same course includes the jump, a 360-degree turn and a lengthy cross-country skiing segment.
The Howelsen Hill races include a sprint classic race - a shorter version of Friday's event - Saturday, and a dual slalom Sunday.
Anderson said all the events are open to locals, and he encouraged telemark skiers of all ability levels to give the competition a try.
"You never know who will show up to a telemark race," he said. "People tend to come out of the woodwork."
Registration is available from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. today and Friday at The Loft, above RideSports in Gondola square at the Steamboat Ski Area. Registration is at the same time Saturday and Sunday at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill.
Each race costs $50, or all four can be entered for $180.