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Steamboat playing host to World Telemark Championships for 1st time

Members of the Switzerland telemark team train Saturday at Howelsen Hill in preparation for the Telemark World Championships
Matt Stensland

FIS World Telemark Skiing Championships schedule

■ MONDAY: Training at Howelsen Hill, Opening Ceremonies at Gondola Squre, 7 p.m.

■ TUESDAY: Sprint classic race at Howelsen Hill

■ WEDNESDAY: Parallel sprint classic qualifiers and team parallel sprint classic race, Howelsen Hill

■ THURSDAY: Parallel sprint classic finals at Howelsen Hill

■ FRIDAY: Classic race at Steamboat Ski Area, Vagabond

— This week, the world’s top telemark ski racers will descend upon Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Ski Area for the 2015 FIS World Telemark Championships, marking the first time Steamboat Springs has played host to the biennial event.

FIS World Telemark Skiing Championships schedule

■ MONDAY: Training at Howelsen Hill, Opening Ceremonies at Gondola Squre, 7 p.m.

■ TUESDAY: Sprint classic race at Howelsen Hill



■ WEDNESDAY: Parallel sprint classic qualifiers and team parallel sprint classic race, Howelsen Hill

■ THURSDAY: Parallel sprint classic finals at Howelsen Hill



■ FRIDAY: Classic race at Steamboat Ski Area, Vagabond

It’s also just the second time the World Championships have taken place in the United States, with the previous time happening more than a decade ago in Whitefish, Montana, in 2003.

“We’ve been working on this for probably four years to get it into Steamboat,” United States Telemark Ski Association event coordinator Ken Gay said. “It’s been a lot of work, and we’re very excited about having it.”

There will be four race events starting Tuesday at Howelsen Hill, following Monday night’s opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. in Gondola Square.

Tuesday kicks off the sprint classic race at Howelsen, which contains a jump, ramp and a skate section on the hill’s face and will be a two-run, combined-time scored event.

The following day are the parallel sprint classic qualification rounds as well as the team parallel sprint finals, also at Howelsen. It’s a tournament-style elimination bracket. The later session — the team sprint — will pit countries against one another, elimination style.

The individual parallel sprint finals will begin Thursday morning, with the juniors parallel sprint following up in the afternoon and evening, all on Howelsen.

Race organizers like Gay saved the best for last in Friday’s World Championships finale.

The classic race is by far the longest course of the event’s four days and will be run top to bottom along Steamboat Ski Area’s Vagabond run. It serves as one of the longest courses on the World Cup circuit, Gay said, and was the site of some Telemark trial runs this time last year when the World Cup racers were in town competing.

“I officiated a couple races in Norway and Sweden last year, and all of the guys came up to me just ecstatic about the vertical drop that the Vagabond hill has because they don’t get an option to get that long of a run usually,” Gay said, noting that Vagabond has approximately 436 meters of vertical drop. “They loved it.”

Gay also called the classic race “the grand finale.”

Some local names that will be on the start lists include Steamboat-trained athletes Tanner Visnick, Jeffrey Gay, Madi McKinstry, Lita Foulk, Jack Rosenthal, Charlie Dresen and Brendan Durum. Visnick will also be singing the National Anthem Monday night during the opening ceremony.

Norway has 19 athletes coming to Steamboat as the largest team that is expected to compete. Other athletes hail from countries like Canada, Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Sweden, Slovakia, Austria and Italy, with other nations potentially making an appearance.

Ken Gay said FIS is funding a live-stream video team from Slovenia to air the championships online for all four days of competition. Spectators who can’t make it to watch the races live can view the competitions at http://www.telemarkworldcup.com.

“This is the top event of the year in Telemark,” Gay said. “It’s the pinnacle. The pressure’s on.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll


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