World Cup telemark races this week at Keystone

  • February 23, 2010

Local skiers in field among world’s best when races kick off Thursday
by Bryce Evans, summit daily news, Summit county, Colorado

Finally, telemark racing is coming home.

Roughly 30 years after telemark ski racing was rejuvenated in Summit County, Keystone Ski Resort will host four official FIS World Cup races Thursday through Sunday of this week.

“We started (telemark racing) here,” said Tory Hauser, a former U.S. Telemark Team member and champion skier. “The Summit Series telemark were the first telemark races anywhere, and everything just grew off it.”

The sport has become the fourth-largest World Cup circuit in winter sports, Hauser said.

And now, the people of Summit County will get their first taste of international competition on home soil.

Hauser, one of the organizers of the race and currently an official with the U.S. team, said roughly 35 international skiers from Japan to Scandinavia are expected to join 20 Americans in the four-day event that consists of both classic and giant slalom races that will take place on Keystone’s Go Devil run.

In telemark skiing, a GS race is similar to that in alpine with one catch: a large Nordic style jump in the middle of the course. Racers must clear a specified distance after the jump or they are deducted points.

The classic race combines nearly every form of skiing. Racers begin with a GS course, including the Nordic jump, then hit a 360-degree, banked turn called a reipeløkke (pronounced rap-a-loosh-a), before hitting a grueling Nordic skate section.

Classic races will be contested both Thursday and Friday, while the GS races will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

All races are visible from the Mountain House lodge at Keystone.

The Silverthorne Pavilion will host an opening ceremony Wednesday starting at 6 p.m.

Silverthorne is serving as the host town and also happens to be the hometown of world junior telemark skier Drew Hauser, Tory Hauser’s son.

Last season, Drew captured the U.S. National Telemark title, along with his world junior crown.

Although Drew hasn’t competed this season while attending college, he’s still going to compete this week in hopes of giving his hometown crowd something to cheer about.

“Oh, heck yeah,” Drew said earlier this year when asked if the races at Keystone hold extra importance to him. “I don’t want to get schooled on my home mountain.”

Drew has said for years that Keystone would be a perfect fit for a WC telemark competition, and he hopes the high skier traffic the resort has will help to generate popularity for his sport.

“I feel if they can be out there and maybe see some of this, it can’t do anything but help,” he said.

And Drew’s father agrees.

“In telemark racing, these skiers can do everything on skis,” Tory Hauser said. “For instance, in a classic race, you have so much going — GS, jumps, skating — and at such a high level. It’s tremendous to watch these athletes do these things.”

Although the majority of free-heel races are dominated by those from across the pond, there are a number of Americans that could challenge for high finishes in this week’s races.

Shane Anderson, who skis out of Steamboat Springs, and Drew are the top American men.

On the women’s side, 17-year-old Lorin Paley of Steamboat may be a future star in the sport. In early February, Paley earned the first American podium finish in a World Cup event since 2003, when she finished third in a WC classic event in Bjorli, Norway.

Racers will also compete today through Tuesday in WC races at Steamboat Springs.