Telemark Race Friday at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat

“We’ve been pretty lucky this year,” Steamboat skier Shane Anderson said, surveying the snowfall on the run.

The snow may have kept the training lighthearted, but for many of Wednesday’s skiers, the practice was important. It leads up to a Telemark sprint classic race, which will start at 11:15 a.m. Friday.

Steamboat in recent years has become a hot spot for U.S. Telemark Ski Team athletes, and many will get their first competition runs of the season Friday.

“This is a trial run to see where we all are at the beginning of the season, to see how you compare to everyone else,” Steamboat skier Jeffrey Gay said. “I’m really excited to see how I stack up.”

Sprint classic races include long sections of giant slalom gates, a jump, a 360-degree turn and a short cross-country skiing section at the bottom.

Steamboat has four skiers on the U.S. A team: Anderson, Gay, Charlie Dresen and Erika Walters. Steamboat skier Madi McKinstry is on the four-person B team, and Annecy Hill­muth, Elizabeth Klemer, Nick Res­ignolo, Katie Ross, Zoe Taylor, Tanner Visnick and Rick Walters, all Steamboat skiers, make up the development team.

For the A teamers like An­­derson, who plans to compete starting in January on the World Cup circuit in Europe, Friday’s race is a fun tuneup.

For many of Steamboat’s other skiers, however, it’s an important opportunity to work toward improving their lot on the team.

“They can earn points to get a team spot,” said Chad Bow­­dre, of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. “There are not a lot of point races each year. There are just five this year, so this can be a big deal. It’s a good opportunity.”

The event is only the start of what will be another big year for Telemark events in Steamboat Springs.

There will be a Telemark component to a national ski cross event in Steamboat in January, and the U.S. Telemark nationals return for the second time in three years in March.

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail