Anderson leads US team on Day 1 of WC races
by Bryce Evans
Summit Daily News
KEYSTONE — Having just turned 31, Shane Anderson is a bit unsure of how long he’ll keep clicking into his skis to race at his sport’s highest level.
Between his work as a coach with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and the toll telemark racing takes on a skier — not just physically, but also financially — Anderson just doesn’t know how many years he has left.
One thing he is sure of, though, is that he’s skiing pretty darn well lately.
After earning his first-career World Cup podium on his home Howelsen Hill earlier in the week — the first by any American man since 2003 — Anderson continued his stellar skiing Thursday in a WC classic race at Keystone Ski Resort with a third-place finish among some of the world’s best.
“I never imagined that I’d ever really get there. I’ve come close a few times, but it just takes a perfect run,” Anderson said of his recent podium finishes. “ … Everything felt really good today, again.”
Anderson’s finish was certainly a highlight for the first-ever WC telemark race held in Summit County, the area credited with the sport’s revival more than 30 years ago.
Opening up a four-day series of races, Thursday’s classic competition on Keystone’s Go Devil run combined a giant slalom speed race, with a Nordic-style jump in the middle, along with a lengthy skate section to the finish.
With more than 50 men and women from a half dozen countries competing Thursday, most of the hardware belonged to the European visitors.
The women’s field was topped by a pair of Swiss skiers. Sandrine Meyer edged out teammate Amelie Reymond for the title, and Norway’s Katinka Knudson was third. It was the first time all season Reymond didn’t finish first on the women’s WC circuit.
The American hopes of a top-3 finish were dashed when Steamboat teenager Lorin Paley pulled out Thursday with a knee injury. Only 17, Paley is the top U.S. female competitor, having earned both a second- and third-place finish in WC races this season.
“Our best girl was hurt today, and that didn’t help,” said Silverthorne’s Tory Hauser, one of the event’s organizers and an administrator with the U.S. National Telemark Team. “She tried to go but just couldn’t. Hopefully, she’ll be able to race one of the next three days.”
The top U.S. finishers were Steamboat’s Erika Walters (10th) and Madi McKinstry, who was 13th.
On the men’s side, Sweden’s Matias Wagenius won the race, with Norway’s Harald Kvaerner in second. Although, the day seemed to belong to the American contingent.
Including Anderson, the U.S. had four skiers in the top-15. David Hobbs finished 10th, while Steamboat skiers Jeffrey Gay and Charlie Dresen were 12th and 15th, respectively.
Not cracking into that group was Silverthorne’s Drew Hauser. The defending U.S. national champion and reigning World Junior title holder struggled a bit with the Keystone course’s grueling skate portion.
After all, it was to be expected from a freshman college student who’s spent the past winter hitting the powder around Reno.
“Living out in Reno, they’ve gotten so much snow,” said Hauser, who attends the University of Nevada-Reno. “I’ve just been skiing powder day after powder day.
“I’ve gotten about five days of gates this year and very little skating.”
He does expect his finishes to improve this week, but, more than anything, he’s simply excited to compete on the hill he grew up skiing.
“It’s pretty exciting. A little extra pressure, because you’re hoping to perform, but it’s still just another race,” he said. “It’s a huge advantage, though, because I’ve been racing super-G on this hill since I was in eighth grade.”
For Anderson, simply skiing on some Colorado snow seems to be his key to finishing well.
“We’ve raced all over the world and never had racing here before,” he said. “It’s been really nice.”
Races continue today with another classic competition at 11 a.m. On Saturday and Sunday, Keystone will hold giant slalom races starting at 10 a.m.
All of this week’s races are visible from Keystone’s Mountain House lodge.