McKinstry and Gay Crowned 2015 National Champions
Two weeks after competing at the World Championships in their hometown, local racers Madi McKinstry and Jeffrey Gay raced their way to the title of National Champion at Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
This is McKinstry’s fourth National Champion title and Gay’s second title. They raced under sunny skies and warm spring conditions over 3 days last weekend. The snow deteriorated fairly rapidly in the warm weather each day and gave some trouble to many of the racers as it softened.
Both champions are products of the SSWSC Telemark program and are now full time college students. They fit a little training in when they can around their studies while at college, so both are pleased with this accomplishment. McKinstry is a Junior at Montana State University and Gay is a Senior at the University of Colorado – Boulder. Following the races McKinstry said, “Sunlight was a really great venue with fun terrain throughout the course. The classic was a challenging course with a hard skate. The team atmosphere was spot on, everyone cheered for each other and the older athletes encouraged the younger and newer racers throughout the weekend.”
Gay reflected, “One of the keys to my success is skiing consistently. For this weekend one of my main focuses was to make the jump line, landing and ski clean on the whole. Probably the biggest challenge was not over edging. It was very soft, because it was so warm, and was very easy to put too much pressure on the edges and loose speed. It was great to be skiing with everyone that competed at this event.”
Lyta Foulk and Tanner Visnick, also of Steamboat Springs both placed second overall at the National Championships. Foulk won the first race of the series and then placed second consistently for the remainder of the weekend.
Foulk said, “I went into the week of nationals planning to enjoy myself and have fun with my fellow teammates. I am happy to say that’s exactly what happened. I have always loved nationals, and it not just about competing for the national title for me. I love getting the chance to hang out with all my teammates from around the US and just have fun. It’s like a family reunion. I am happy with the place I got and happy for Madi for winning. I may be the young pup with the new talent but Madi has much more experience than I, which I believe is the reason she won this year but I may be wrong. I’m already looking forward to the 2016 Nationals and to seeing my teammates again.”
Visnick began the weekend with a crash in the first race, but finished the event with wins in the two Classic races on Sunday. Visnick said, “I walked away with two Classic victories and second place overall at US Nationals. I wanted badly to stand on top of the podium, but I couldn’t be happier how the weekend ended. Ski racing can be difficult, unfair, and gut wrenching, but with every rough experience comes a good one. This may not have been my year, but if I keep fighting, I am sure that our day, I will come out on top.”
The final third place podium spots for both the best overall men and women were occupied by a pair of racers from the northeast – for the men, Cory Synder of Franconia, New Hampshire and for the women, Sarah Carley of Brentwood, New Hampshire.
Snyder was the 2014 National Champion, but crashed on the first day which may have put him off his game for the weekend. Snyder said, “I had a huge wreck of the jump which resulted in one broken ski, one broken pole, one very colorful and swollen thumb, and more aches and pains then I can count. I am very thankful to only walk away from a crash like that with the few injuries I have. Anytime there are enough forces involved to de-camber a ski, I have to count my blessings that none of my bones are de-cambered. On the bright side, there is no motivator like the taste of defeat. I will be back next year, I will be bigger, I will be faster, I will be stronger, and I will not make the same mistakes twice.”
After a weekend of good racing, Carley commented, “After my final run I went back up to slip the course for the remaining male competitors, and as I came over the final knoll and the finish came into view I saw a dozen US Telemark athletes lined up at the finish cheering the citizen racers on in the skate. What other sport do the elite athletes stick around after 3 days of National competition to cheer on the citizen competitors? Only telemark skiing comes to mind.”
Athletes traveled from New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, Idaho and Montana. There were some talented local competitors from Colorado as well as a pack of Junior athletes who gave racing a try for the first time.