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Steamboat Welcomes the World for the 2015 FIS World Telemark Skiing Championships

Photo by Mike Visnick, US Telemark Ski Association Photo by Mike Visnick, US Telemark Ski Association

By Kristen Lummis,

While you may not have heard much about Telemark Ski Racing, its a pretty big deal worldwide. And beginning February 23, its going to be a pretty big deal in Colorado, as the 2015 FIS World Telemark Skiing Championships come to Steamboat.

Back in the USA

The Steamboat World Championships mark the second time this event has been held in the U.S. and the first U.S.-based Championships since 2003.

Steamboat expects teams from the U.S., Canada, Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Sweden, Slovakia, Austria and Italy. Other countries to look for include Hungary, Finland, the Czech Republic, Japan and Ukraine.

The Down Low on Skiing Down Low

Telemark skiing is one of the oldest forms of skiing, originating in the Telemark region of Norway in the 1870s. Seeking more efficient turns, a local man, Sondre Norheim, created a stiff binding that he fixed around his heels. He also built skis, shaped with a narrow waist. His modifications eventually revolutionized winter transportation and sport.

Telemark racing uses the traditional split-leg turning technique and incorporates gates, jumps and skating in a top-to-bottom course.

There are four events in telemark racing: The Classic, the Sprint Classic, the Parallel Sprint and the Team Parallel Sprint. In each event, competitors must complete a Giant Slalom course using telemark turns; fly off a jump; make it through the reipelykkje; and finish strong with skating.

Backing up for just one moment, the reipelykkje (called the rap for short) is a 360-degree mid-course, banked turn and can be seen at 0:30 in the video below.

Time penalties are assessed during the race for failure to use telemark turns (1 second), failure to pass the jump line (3 seconds), and failure to land the jump in a Nordic stance (1 second).

What to Watch

The events kick off on February 24th with the Sprint Classic Race at Howelsen Hill. The next day begins two days of Parallel Sprint, head-to-head dual elimination racing. The Team Parallel Sprint Classic goes first, pitting country against country, while the individual Parallel Sprints take place on February 26th. On Friday, February 27th, the action moves to Mount Werner and Steamboat Ski Resort for the longer, challenging Classic Race.

Who to Watch

Steamboat racers dominate the U.S. team, which is made up of six World Cup athletes and five U.S. National team members. Local favorites include college students Tanner Visnick and Madi McKinstry, the only woman on the U.S. World Cup squad.

As you might expect, these local athletes are stoked to be at home for their sports biggest event. Having World Championships means more than just racing on your home hill. It means the entire community of Steamboat coming out and helping to volunteer, watch, and cheer us on, explains McKinstry.

Large-scale events like this demonstrate just how close the community in Steamboat really is.

When You Go

This is a dont-miss winter event. There is no charge to watch the races and enjoy the fun international atmosphere. Racing begins on Tuesday, February 24th with the Sprint Classic at Howelsen Hill. For a full schedule, check here.