Steamboat Springs Madi McKinstry said her experience two years ago during the last Telemark World Cup stop in Steamboat Springs was fraught with awkward moments and nerve-wracking runs.
McKinstry was a wide-eyed youth partaking in her first international Telemark competition. She trembled at the thought of her competitors, monoliths of the sport in her eyes, and blushed at the post-race get-togethers when a bunch of people she didn’t know spoke and laughed and had fun in languages she didn’t understand.
“I remember that it was really intimidating,” McKinstry said. “At first, I felt like an outsider.”
That was then. Now, at 17 years old, one of the premier women’s skiers on the U.S. Telemark Team and a veteran of high-level competitions across the world, it’s a different story.
When a Telemark World Cup event sets down in Steamboat Springs for a week starting Sunday, McKinstry will be right at home, prepared to stare down the competition on the slope and laugh the language of ski racing with her newfound friends when the day is done.
“This time, I’m a lot more prepared,” she said. “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and more confident than I’ve ever been. Now, I feel like I have a great relationship with everyone, but I want to go out there and beat them.”
The Telemark World Cup is continuing its globe-trotting trek with a stop in Steamboat Springs.
The week begins Saturday with an opening ceremonies event at Howelsen Hill, continues Sunday with a day of training at Steamboat Ski Area and kicks into high gear Monday and Tuesday with two days of Telemark classic races at 10 a.m.
Sprint classic races will follow Thursday and Feb. 18, and a parallel sprint event will take place Feb. 17.
The event is expected to attract nearly 50 Telemark skiers, about a dozen from the United States and the rest from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The event is only the second Telemark World Cup event to take place in Colorado, following on the heels of the 2010 races, which were split between Steamboat Springs and Keystone.
The races are all in Steamboat this year and could be the start of a major presence for the Telemark World Cup in Ski Town USA.
An event for next year is possible. One already is in the books for 2014, and Steamboat was picked to play host to the World Championships in 2015.
“They were very happy with how things went the last time they were here,” said Chad Bowdre, with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. “We like to do it to give our kids some home-hill advantage. Last time, we had to see if we could at least break even financially to justify having the event. This year, it was a no-brainer.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com