Trio of Steamboat racers make World Cup finals | SteamboatToday.com

Trio of Steamboat racers make World Cup finals

Cota 7th, Dyer 14th and Stoltzner 15th skiing for US

Steamboat Springs skier Lane Stoltzner makes her way down the moguls run at Whiteface in Lake Placid, New York, on Thursday during a World Cup event. Making her third World Cup start of her career Stoltzner made finals at the event, placing 15th.

— Life didn't live up to the dream earlier this month for Lane Stoltzner.

She'd spent her entire freestyle moguls skiing career working to earn a start on the World Cup, and that opportunity finally came several weeks ago in Deer Valley, Utah.

It didn't go well.

She finished 37th out of 40 competitors.

Somehow, after years of competition and dozens of clutch runs, many skiing against the same women she was competing with that day, she went blank.

"Three skiers out, I shut down mentally," she said. "I didn't know how to focus or calm myself down."

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On Thursday, she got a second chance and this time, she proved she belongs.

Soltzner was thrilled to qualify into finals Thursday at a World Cup in Lake Placid, New York, one of a few Steamboat athletes to make it into finals at the freestyle skiing World Cup.

Stoltzner went on to finish 15th in the women's event. Jeremy Cota was seventh on the men's side, logging the highest finish for American men. Ryan Dyer was 14th, competing in his first World Cup in three years.

Stoltzner said her first run still evoked nerves, not so much the trip down, but the waiting at the bottom. She was one of the first skiers and had to watch nearly the entire field come down. Few struggled on the course, so there were plenty of strong runs she feared might knock her out.

She was good enough, sticking in the top 16.

She was disappointed in her finals run score, confident it had been cleaner and faster than it first run. Still, that did little to dampen the day.

"At Deer Valley, my nerves got in the way and I wasn't able to pull it together during the competition," Stoltzner said. "Today, it was an awesome feeling to make the final and to feel like I deserved to be there."

Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapointe won the event to hold on to her World Cup lead. U.S. skier Hannah Kearney was second and Canadian Andi Naude was third.

Steamboat skier Sophia Schwartz finished 23rd.

Dyer 14th in return to World Cup

Making finals proved just as sweet for Dyer as it did for Stoltzner.

Dyer has spent much of the past four years on the cusp of regular World Cup starts, consistently setback by injuries. He's fully healthy this season, however, and his results have been stellar.

He was the team's World Cup alternate heading into the event and when Pat Deneen pulled out with an injury, Dyer was in.

"I got the call from the U.S. coaches and they asked, 'Are you ready to go?'" Dyer said. "I said, 'Oh, you bet. I'm so ready to go.'"

He made the most of the opportunity, too. He placed 16th on his first run, skiing clean and quick.

He didn't think he was quite as good on the second, drifting on his jumps and lacking crispness in his skiing.

He, too, didn't struggle to see the bright side.

"It was a great experience and I ended up 14th in the world," he said. "I can't be bummed about that. I'm very excited."

Mikael Kingsbury won the men's side. Russian Alexandr Smyshlyaev was second and Canada's Marc-Antoine Gagnon was third.

Canadians accounted for four of the six super-finals skiers on the men's side and three of six on the women's.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9