Steamboat Springs The conditions were sticky, and the snow was slow.
Lorin Paley, meanwhile, was as fast as usual. The Steamboat Springs High School student and U.S. Telemark Ski Team member won the opening event of the U.S. Telemark National Championships, taking place this week in Steamboat Springs.
Paley won the women's division of the giant slalom event.
"Everyone skied great today," race director Shane Anderson said. "Lorin had a great day. She's been working hard, and it's her home hill, so she had a lot of confidence."
Paley's combined two-run time was 2 minutes, 1.82 seconds.
Skiers must swing through all the course's gates and go over a jump without losing the proper Telemark skiing style. They can be penalized for a non-Telemark turn, for not jumping an appropriate distance and even for not landing Telemark style, with one leg back.
Paley managed both runs without a penalty and finished barely a second ahead of second-place skier Kelsey Schmid-Sommers, of Whitefish, Mont.
Steamboat's Erika Walters, a member of the U.S. Telemark B team, was third at 2:07.08.
"It was a little unseasonably warm, but the course held up pretty well," Anderson said. "You have to be softer on your edges and have a better touch. It made it a little easier to Telemark but wasn't ideal for racing."
Ben Paley led the way for Steamboat on the men's side.
Drew Hauser, of Silverthorne, dominated the competition and recorded two of the fastest four times of the day.
Racers tore down the Sitz and See Me runs at Steamboat Ski Area, launching from the jump near the starting gate at the top of the run.
Hauser set the fastest time at 53.86 seconds. His combined time of 1:49.84 was more than six seconds faster than second-place Charlie Dressen.
Paley was at 1:56.32, just 0.28 seconds behind Dressen.
"Ben really skied well," Anderson said.
The day did claim several Steamboat skiers.
Anderson, who skis as a member of the U.S. team, fell on his first run. Steamboat Springs High School skier Jeffery Gay also fell. Both missed out on a chance to make a second lap.
"I just had something happen I've never had happen," Anderson said. "My ski just popped off."
The action in the four-day championship resumes at 10 a.m. today with the Telemark classic race.
It also will be on Sitz and See Me at the ski area but will feature a sharp, speed-cutting turn and a lengthy cross-country skiing section in addition to the gates and jump athletes handled Thursday.
"It's a whole new day. It's only one run instead of two, but it should be great," Anderson said.