Madi McKinstry, right, celebrates after picking up her second third-place finish of the week Tuesday in a Telemark World Cup event. The podium finishes marked the first of McKinstry’s career in a World Cup.

Courtesy photo

Madi McKinstry, right, celebrates after picking up her second third-place finish of the week Tuesday in a Telemark World Cup event. The podium finishes marked the first of McKinstry’s career in a World Cup.

Madi McKinstry impresses at Telemark World Cup in Steamboat

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— Madi McKinstry came into this week’s Telemark events in Steamboat Springs having never finished on the podium in a World Cup.

The Steamboat Springs High School senior and U.S. Telemark Ski Team member quickly changed that.

McKinstry, 17, put together back-to-back third-place finishes Monday and Tuesday, making an even bigger name for herself in the process.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’ve never podiumed, and this shows all my hard work has finally paid off.”

It’s been a long road to recognition for McKinstry.

She grew up in Elko, Nev., having to drive hours to find any sort of real ski resort.

She considered Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyo. — a five-hour trip from Elko — her home resort.

Of course, there were closer resorts. McKinstry’s dad grew up skiing in Colorado, and the family had been to Steamboat in 2006 for a soccer camp.

“Living in Nevada wasn’t as outdoorsy,” she said. “Colorado, that’s where the snow is.”

McKinstry started Alpine skiing as a child and let her heel go free at age 10. When she moved to Steamboat, she began with the development program at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

She’s rapidly progressed into one of America’s top female Telemark skiers.

She proved it again Tuesday in less-than-ideal conditions, at least for racing.

Tuesday’s snow provided little visibility, and the snow slowed the course.

“It seemed when we were inspecting the sun might come out,” she said. “I think that helps. I train on See Me every day. I was feeling my way through it. You couldn’t be timid, or you’d get thrown back.”

McKinstry isn’t sure which way her career will veer. After graduating this year, she may take a postgraduate year next season and complete a full World Cup schedule, including the 2013 World Championships in Spain.

“She is so motivated and just pressing on to give it everything she has,” Winter Sports Club coach Chad Bowdre said. “All the way from summer to fall dryland, this is what she has been striving for is to get on the podium in the World Cup.”

For now, she is looking for more podiums and is zeroing in on the March World Junior Championships in Spain.

Last season at the World Junior Championships in Norway, she was third.

“I hope to be on the podium in first or second,” she said. “We’ll just keep working to see what I can accomplish.”

Wednesday is a training day with the World Cup resuming at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Howelsen Hill.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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