Paley pushes through pain to pace US racers in World Cup

by Bryce Evans
summit daily news – January 27, 2010

KEYSTONE — Not good enough.

Those were the only three words Steamboat’s Lorin Paley used to describe her skiing Friday after a World Cup telemark classic race at Keystone Ski Resort.

Never mind that she just finished fourth against the world’s best female free-heelers, or that she was on snow for the first time in seven days after injuring her knee, or even that she’s only 17.

“It can never be good enough,” she reiterated. “It always has to be better.”

And, possibly, it’s that mentality that makes the Steamboat Springs High senior the best women’s tele racer in the country and one of the best in the entire world. Because, what the teen lacks in experience — and, maybe, size and strength, as well — she certainly makes up for in determination.

“Well, I definitely haven’t peaked yet, and I’m going to keep building,” she said.

Friday, Paley was the top finisher of any American — male or female — in Keystone’s second of four WC races this week on the steep pitch of Go Devil.

Even though she fell to the dominating Swiss duo — Amelie Reymond (first) and Sandrine Meyer (second) — and third-place finisher Anne Marit Enger of Norway, her fourth-place finish is still one of the best by an American woman in a WC event in the past decade. That is, if Paley hadn’t already hit the podium twice this season — the first American to do so since 2003.

For Paley, she was simply more excited to be back on skis Friday, after spending the previous week “hobbling” around after busting her knee on a jump in a race at Steamboat last week.

“The swelling just decided to go down, so today was the day to get back (on skis),” she said. “I was skiing the gates really conservatively, because I didn’t know how my knee would respond, but I skated really hard. It felt good for the first day back.”

In a telemark classic race, skiers descend a steep giant-slalom course with a Nordic-style jump thrown in the middle of the course. Once the racers get to the bottom of the hill, they hit a toilet-bowl shaped embankment before circling around for a lengthy skate section to the finish line.

For those wondering how tiring such a race is, all you had to do was watch each competitor cross the finish line — and promptly collapse to the ground.

“It’s tough; it’s grueling,” said Silverthorne’s Drew Hauser, who finished 16th on the men’s side. “I’m still catching my breath.”

Matias Wagner of Sweden won the men’s race, while Swiss skier Bastien Dayer and Norway’s Erik Rykhus were second and third, respectively.

The top American finish, for the second straight day went to Steamboat’s Shane Anderson. After finishing in third in the classic race Thursday, Anderson wound up 10th on the same course.

Other top American finishes came from Erika Walters (12th) and Madi McKinstry (14th) in the women’s race and David Hobbs (14th) and Charlie Dresen (15th) for the men.

Hauser, the reigning U.S. National and World Junior champion, had a tough time in the skating portion for the second straight day. A freshman in college, the 20-year-old Summit High grad simply hasn’t had much time to train.

And he felt it on Thursday.

“This race is won and lost in the skate,” he said. “It’s tough, with school and just skiing powder, I just can’t train like I’d like to. All things considered, I skied a pretty good race.”

Hauser is looking forward to the giant slalom races today and Sunday, which, much like the alpine format, consist of two runs.

“As far as not training, that’s the easiest thing to excel in without the training,” he said of GS. “ … I should do well in the GS. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in (the WC races last week in) Steamboat, but that was an error-ridden race for me. This is my home hill, though, and I made pretty much zero gate errors in the race itself (Thursday) and (Friday). So, I’m really excited for the weekend.”

Paley said she was eager to get back on the slopes for today’s runs.

Overall, though, she’s more excited about the way she’s skied of late and what the future might hold.

“I’ve calmed down and figured out really how to focus from the start,” she said. “So far, everything’s really coming together.”

The tele action continues today with a GS race on Go Devil. First runs are slated to start at 10 a.m., with Run 2 beginning at 2 p.m. The schedule is the same for Sunday, with a medal ceremony at 7 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion.