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Wilson scores Classic win

21-year-old Minnesotan victorious on final day of Howelsen Hill competition

Minnesota ski racer Ryan Wilson clears a gate during his second run at the FIS Holiday Classic at Howelsen Hill. Wilson, who was third after the first run, flourished on a difficult second en route to winning the men's slalom race.
John F. Russell

While many skiers struggled on the final day of the FIS Holiday Classic on Howelsen Hill, Ryan Wilson simply relaxed.

The 21-year-old Minnesota native watched skier after skier struggle with a hairpin turn just over the face on Howelsen Hill.

So Wilson, who is attempting to make the U.S. Ski Team, decided to take it easy through the section and make up time in the middle and lower portions of the course.



“I actually took it really easy up there because that part was pretty difficult this run,” Wilson said. “There was a lot of attrition. It was just solid skiing and not trying to go too fast. I tried to make up some time down below.”

The plan worked.



Wilson held off Friday’s winner and University of Denver skier Ian Lochhead, finishing with the fastest second-run time of the day to give him the win.

University of Colorado skier and hometown favorite Drew Roberts finished third.

None of the top three finishers led after the first run. Michael Ankeny and Ben Brown claimed the two fastest first runs of the day, but each fell during his second run. Wilson put together the cleanest second run to take title. For comparison, Wilson’s second run was nearly four seconds slower than his first run.

“You can’t push it on a run or a hill like this,” Wilson said. “In the last year, I’ve changed my skiing, and I’m more technical now. Going in, I was pretty confident. I didn’t really step on the gas in the first run. I just put myself in position.”

The course, which claimed about half the field and saw most skiers struggle with the selection of gates just over the face, proved much tougher than Friday’s course. The hill was groomed late Friday night, and with the new snow that fell overnight, snow consistency was at a premium. The top section was icy, the middle was chunky and the bottom was perfect.

“The snow was a little peely” Tuesday, said Lochhead, who held off Will Gregorak and Ankeny to win Friday’s slalom. “It actually benefited me. If I had been leading, I wouldn’t have liked this. There were definitely places to separate yourself.”

Roberts, a junior at the University of Colorado, handled the top section of the course beautifully before slipping up in the middle section. Despite being a little disappointed with his run, he said he’s always happy to come back to Steamboat and see family and friends.

“For me, this is the most fun race of the year,” Roberts said. “Even with NCAA’s and nationals, this is where all my friends and family get to come out and watch me. Friday, there were hundreds of people out here to watch. As long as I’m skiing, I’ll keep coming to this.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com


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