Steamboat duo cleans house at Telemark national championships | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat duo cleans house at Telemark national championships

Austin Colbert

— Tanner Visnick decided to let it all go. The 2014 Steamboat Springs High School graduate and current Montana State University sophomore had been close to becoming the U.S. Telemark national champion more than once, but something always kept him from his goal.

So this season, Visnick found a way to take the pressure off his own shoulders.

"Last season, I was technically the top-ranked skier, because I had the most points, but not putting it together at nationals was a bit of a bummer," Visnick said. "The difference this year compared to the last couple of years is, a lot of times at nationals and World Cup races, I'll let people get to me and let things get to my head. I was way more laid back at nationals (this year), and it really helped and reflected in my performance."

Last week at Crotched Mountain, New Hampshire, Visnick finally put the rest of the country on notice by winning the overall men's national title at the FIS Karbon U.S. Telemark National Championships. As impressive as his win was, fellow Steamboat skier Lyta Foulk was even more dominant, winning the women's overall title to get the Yampa Valley a title two-fer.

Jeffrey Gay, the defending men's national champion and another Steamboat product, took silver. Steamboat's fourth Telemark athlete, Jack Rosenthal, was ninth overall among the men.

"It's been in the works for a long time, and finally getting it is huge," Foulk said. "I've been really close to getting a national championship the past two, three years, and this is my first time actually getting it, so I'm really happy about that. It was fun."

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Like Visnick, her World Cup teammate, Foulk has had to settle for nothing better than second place in the past. And after she partially tore her MCL the day after Christmas while training at Howelsen Hill, her entire season looked to be at risk.

Fortunately, her knee had healed enough to get her back on skis about a month later. Not only did Foulk ski well in the three-day nationals event, but the SSHS junior and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete dominated the 10-women field for the elusive national title.

"I know the rest of my team, and especially Tanner, has always been extremely supportive of me," Foulk said.

Now, Foulk is taking her game across the pond, where she will compete for the first time at the World Cup level. She was competing in a World Cup event in Norway this week, and will join the rest of her U.S. teammates, including Visnick, in Switzerland next week for the final FIS World Cup event of the season.

"It's the first time I've been able to ski down to the bottom of a race and have a giant crowd of fans at the bottom," Foulk said of competing in Europe. "When I'm over here, it's pretty obvious I'm not the best in the world. But I wasn't expecting to be. Competing against these girls out here is probably going to be my next step, because it's much more competition than I had at nationals."

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert