Teams battle for international bragging rights at FIS Telemark World Championships
Steamboat Springs — The second day of competition in the FIS Telemark World Championships didn’t disappoint as an international field battled for qualifying spots in Thursday’s Parallel Sprint Classic and also took a shot at national pride in the team event on the slopes of Howelsen Hill.
The telemark ski racers opened the day racing against the clock and hoping to make the cut for the Parallel Sprint Classic, which will pit the top 16 men, and top 8 women in head-to-head elimination rounds. Racing will begin at 10 a.m. with the men’s and women’s elite races, followed by junior racers taking their shot at World Championship glory.
The U.S. will have two racers in the men’s elite final including Cory Snyder, who was 11th in the opening event on Tuesday, and hometown favorite Tanner Visnick.
Visnick placed 18th after the qualifying round, but a couple of junior racers in front of him elected to compete only in the junior category. Visnick will race in both the elite and junior races Thursday.
German Tobias Mueller continued to make his mark on Steamboat Springs, posting the fastest time of the day at 38.63 seconds to earn the top spot in Thursday’s finals. Philippe Lau of Italy had the second fastest time at 39.19, and his teammate Clement Bergeretti was third with a time of 39.88. Slovenia’s Rok Smejic rounded out the elite field for Thursday’s races, finishing in 16th place with a time of 43.49 seconds.
At first, it seemed that Cory Snyder would be the only American to make the cut in the men’s race. He placed 14th with a time of 42.86. Visnick was 18th with a time 44.13 but he didn’t learn until hours after the race that he had moved into the elite field.
Other Americans making a run at the finals included Birk Larsen of Park City, who placed 27th with a time of 46.22, Jeffrey Gay of Steamboat, who finished 31st with a time of 47.13, Charlie Dresen of Steamboat, who finished 32nd with a time of 47.14, and Brendan Durum of Steamboat, who finished in 35th with a time of 50.09. California racer Larry Bosche was 38th and Steamboat’s Jack Rosenthal clipped a gate at the end of the course and did not finish the elite race.
“I’m really happy that I qualified for the Parallel (Sprint Classic),” Snyder said. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t do as well in the team event, but it gave us a chance to get a little practice for tomorrow.”
Norway’s Mathilde Ilebrekke raced to the top position in the women’s field by skiing a clean run in a time of 43.02. Germany’s Johanna Holzmann was also clean, finishing with the second fastest women’s time of the day at 45.02.
The world’s top-ranked women, Amelie Reymond, was third with a time of 45.04. The top American was Steamboat’s own Lyta Foulk, who just missed the elite finals, placing ninth with a time of 49.83. However, Foulk kept her World Championship medal hopes alive by posting the third fastest time in the junior race.
On Wednesday afternoon at Howelsen Hill, eight countries picked their top skiers in a battle for international bragging rights. Each team picked two men and one woman to face the other nations in a head-to-head competition. Each nation got to run on both courses to make things fair, with the leader of the first run getting a differential on the second run.
At the end of the day, it was the team from Switzerland standing on the top stair of the podium after Swiss skiers Amelie Reymond, Nicolas Michel and Bastien Dayer took down the Americans, the Norwegians and France en route to the title.
The French topped teams from Japan and Germany to advance to the finals where they lost to Switzerland in a 2-1 contest. The Americans where knocked out in the first round by the Swiss team.
The American team was made of up Steamboat’s Foulk and Visnick who joined Snyder on the team. Foulk was challenged in her race, as she took on Reymond in the first round.
“I’m happy with my results,” Foulk said. “She is the top woman in the world right now. She was so calm the entire time. I got kind of jittery, but I learned that I can’t watch the skier on the other course— I need to focus on my own skiing.”
Foulk lost her dual with Reymond, but Snyder had an opportunity to even things up for the Americans with Visnick still waiting at the top of the hill.
After the “reipelykkje,” Snyder found himself in a head-to-head dual with Swiss skier Nicolas Michel, but when Michel’s pole hit Snyder’s ski as they exited the big banked turn at the end of the course, the American lost his balance and fell, giving the Swiss a 2-0 lead in a three-point race.
Visnick gave it his all on the final run against Bastien Dayer, but the Swiss team proved too strong for the young Americans.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” Snyder said. “But that’s the ‘rap’, and that’s ski racing.”
The skiers will return to Howelsen Hill at 10 a.m. Thursday for a third day of World Championship action.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966
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