Steamboat Springs The course was carefully laid out, and most of the skiers wore the skin-tight body suits of racers. They pumped a fist after a good run and rolled their eyes after a slip.
Howelsen Hill had all the makings of a race Thursday, but the U.S. Telemark team isn’t quite ready to push off for real just yet. They, nevertheless, flew down the face of the downtown Steamboat Springs hill and tried to perfect all the details, wrapping up a four-day team camp in style.
“It’s been going very well,” U.S. Telemark regional team director Roy McKinstry said, watching athletes stream by from the base of a snowy Howelsen Hill. “We had close to 18 participants this week. Skiing with each other really helps them, and we get in some real intense coaching and a lot of reps. They have pushed each other.”
The team has a lot to prepare for, no event looming larger than a collaborative Steamboat Springs and Silverthorne Telemark World Cup event slated for Feb. 20 to 28.
The massive event will start Feb. 20 with a day of training that will lead into three days of competition in Steamboat Springs. There will be one giant slalom run and two sprint races. Four days of racing will follow at Keystone, starting Feb. 25. There will be two giant slalom runs and two classic competitions.
For the racers carving up fresh powder on the face of Howelsen Hill, that week of top-tier competition was never out of their minds.
“We are really excited about it,” said Tory Hauser, events director for the U.S. Telemark Association. “The athletes are excited, and I’m excited. For those that have been on the World Cup circuit, they’ve met all the athletes and become really good friends with them, and they’re really looking forward to showing them their hometowns. To have that chance is great for us.”
Hauser said the February race will mark the first Telemark World Cup in Colorado. The events have been run in other parts of the country, but now that a core of U.S. team members is located in the Rocky Mountains, it only makes sense for the World Cup to follow.
Steamboat itself can lay claim to many of the team’s top athletes.
Four local skiers are on the eight-member “A” team, including Lorin Paley, Ben Paley, Charlie Dresen and local coach Shane Anderson.
Steamboat residents Ken Recker, Erika Walters and Jeffrey Gay make up 60 percent of the five-member “B” team, and Elizabeth Klemer and Madi McKinstry are on the development squad.
They’re all eager to welcome an event like the World Cup — a dramatic step up from the U.S. National Championships that were hosted in Steamboat a year ago.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Gay said. “It should be great, a lot of fun with great competition from all the other countries.”
They’re equally excited to prove to be more than just good hosts, however.
Many members of the team will head to Norway to meet up with the World Cup circuit early next month. Defending the home turf is a priority, however, and that was the goal of the four-day camp in Steamboat.
“It’s been intense,” Lorin Paley said. “When you train six hours a day and with video, it’s hard not to come away with a lot of knowledge.
“People that come to watch the World Cup, if they’ve ever seen a Telemark race, they’ll see way bigger jumps, bigger angles and huge crashes. Everything is just exponentially larger on the World Cup level. The Europeans are amazing skiers, and it’s an amazing art to watch.”
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org