Locals make Regional US Telemark Team

The U.S. Telemark Ski Association announced recently this winter’s Regional team, with three of the 10 members hailing from Whitefish. The local racers include Cole Schneider, a returning racer, and newcomers Maggie Doherty and Erica Ruta.

Established last year, the intent of the Regional team is to recognize athletes that have demonstrated a commitment to telemark racing and continue to improve their skills. Some Regional team members are gunning to make the National team or Development team.

The three local racers will train at Whitefish Mountain Resort with Kelsey Schmid-Sommer, the five-time National Champion. Schmid-Sommer retired from the U.S. Telemark National Team at the end of last season.

Schneider and Doherty plan to attend several World Cup events in Europe this winter and the U.S. National Championships, which will be held in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

“We are pleased to see the level of skiing and commitment from these new Regional team members,” said Russ Hobbs, president of USTS.

Doherty, 28, is originally from Northern Michigan and moved to Montana in 2004. She learned to telemark three winters ago after a lifetime of alpine racing. She started telemark skiing during Whitefish Mountain Resort’s telemark league and eventually progressed to compete in the U.S. Nationals at Big Mountain last winter, taking fourth in the slalom. She’ll be leaving in January to race on the World Cup circuit in Europe.

“I’m freaking out because it’s a dream come true to both ski in Europe and race in the World Cups,” Doherty said.

Doherty’s goal is to make the U.S. National team and “to live up to the local legacy of telemark in Whitefish.”

“I want to represent the community well and maintain the tradition of tele skiing here,” she said.

She looks forward to learning from Schmid-Sommer.

“I’m honored to have Kelsey as my coach,” Doherty said. “It will be amazing, not only because of her talent, but her experience, too. She’s been to the World Cup, and to have that guidance is wonderful.”

New Hampshire native Ruta is Schmid-Sommer’s younger sister, and has skied at Big Mountain for a decade. She is the owner of Breathe yoga and fitness studio.

Schneider is originally from Nebraska, where he first learned to ski, and was on the Regional team last winter. He was 12th overall at the U.S. Nationals last year, taking 10th in the dual slalom and 12th in the giant slalom and Karbon classic.

The local regional team members, along with National team member Peter McMahon and a long list of local, retired team members are looking forward to hosting a sprint classic race at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Saturday, Feb. 26. For more information about USTSA, visit www.ustsa.org.