Skiers shine at slalom races in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Skiers shine at slalom races in Steamboat

Former Steamboat Springs skier Max Marno dances between the slalom gates Friday at Howelsen Hill. Marno finished eighth. Racing resumes at Howelsen Hill on Saturday.

— The goal is always to get down first, but University of New Mexico skier Christopher Acosta might have begun to question that strategy, at least for the first run.

He hasn't had a problem getting a lead. Holding it, though, has been torture.

Thursday offered a fine example of Acosta's torment. He laid down the fastest first-run time, rocketing to the bottom of the run at Steamboat Ski Area and skidding into first place.

He couldn't hold his position up, however. Fastest on the first run, he had the 20th-fastest time on the second run, and that all added up to a second-place finish, 0.03 seconds behind teammate Joonas Rasanen.

"I've been having troubles with the mentality of being in the first-place position, then going into second run knowing I have to keep it up," said Acosta, a sophomore for New Mexico.

A day later at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs, the circumstances were eerily similar. Again Rasanen had jumped up to grab the overall lead and Acosta again stood at the top of the course, one chance to defend first place and secure the victory.

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"These races have been great because I've been able to get into that position and work on mentally overcoming those barriers," he said.

The practice paid off.

Acosta, who raced in his teenage years down U.S. Highway 40 at Winter Park and is plenty familiar Howelsen Hill, won the second race of the three-day Holiday Classic slalom skiing event Friday, fending off a bevy of top skiers with fantastic times on both the first and the second runs. He was fastest in the field on the first try, and he had the second-fastest time on the second go, setting him atop the podium with a combined time of 1 minute, 20.48 seconds.

Rasanen was second, in at 1:20.57, and Seppl Stiegler, of Vail, was third, in 1:20.89.

"I've raced many course sets here," Acosta said. "The second run was just charging the whole way, go all out and don't hold back."

Max Marno, skiing for University of Denver, led the contingent with ties to Steamboat Springs, finishing eighth at 1:22.33. He was 12th after the first run, but jumped up after laying down the sixth-best overall second-run time.

"It wasn't bad, but I can always ski faster," said Marno, who was fourth Thursday. "I could have charged it a little more. I skied the top part too tentatively. For me, it's about confidence, making a plan and sticking to it."

Hig Roberts, another former Steamboat skier, finished 14th skiing for Middlebury College.

The men return to racing at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Howelsen Hill. The second run is set for 1:30 p.m.

Kobal wins again

Utah skier Ana Kobal swears she's better in speed events than she is at slalom. Her competition in the Holiday Classic races might have a hard time believing that.

Kobal was again the best of the race, winning the second women's slalom event just as handily as she did the first. Kobal skied to victory at Steamboat Ski Area on Friday, overcoming a course that dumped many of her competitors, with a combined time of 1:28.30.

"I didn't think I skied very good, but I guess I did," she said with a laugh.

Kobal was just as consistent Friday as she was in Thursday's victory. In fact, she's turned in the fastest time of the four runs the women have raced so far. On Friday she was about a half-second better than the first on the first run, then 0.36 seconds faster on the second. It added up to a big victory.

She said she got a boost on the first run because, as the race's top seed, she got the first shot at the trail and managed to avoid what became a difficult course in soft snow.

"The first run was easy, not bumpy at all. The second run was pretty bumpy and I was surprised," she said. "The second run was way harder than" Thursday's courses.

Kristiina Rove, another Ute who scorched the trail, was second at 1:30.01. New Zealand skier Taylor Rapley was third at 1:31.65.

U.S. Ski Team member and former Steamboater Anna Marno was sixth, in at 1:32.80. She led a tight pack of Steamboat skiers. Cassady Roberts was seventh in 1:33.05, and Mary Rachel Hostetter was eighth at 1:33.16.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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Find full results from Thursday and Friday’s races here.