Big Mountain, Montana
February 19-21, 2000
Cowbells were ringing Saturday at Big Mountain, Montana, as Per Bylund of Sweden took the men's win and Pia Ralta of Finland took the top spot in the women's division, in the only US stop of the 2000 World Cup Telemark tour.
US racers, seven of whom live and train in nearby Whitefish, Montana, did not fare as well in this giant slalom race as the team had hoped, but spirits remained high.
Cody Thompson of Whitefish was the US women's top finisher at 5th place, with a time of 2:13.45.
"I got eight penalties on the first run and it wasn't much better on the second," said a disappointed Thompson. "I've been getting gate penalties on my left turn all season long. I don't know what's going on."
In telemark ski racing, there are two types of penalties: gate and jump. If the racer doesn't air the minimal distance required by the judges, time is added on to their actual finish time. Racers must also land in a telemark turn, or they are penalized.
Gate penalties are given when a racer does not execute a proper telemark turn with at least one boot length of space from the heel of the front boot to the toe of the rear boot. The turn transition must also be smooth, with no hesitation while the switching foot positions. Racers who fall into parallel (alpine style) form are penalized with second for each blown turn.
Chris Rice of Whitefish led the US men, placing 4th with a time of 2:00.77.
"On my first run, I turned late a few times, but I skied well on the second one and didn't scrub any turns," said Rice.
Taug Boschen of Whitefish had a good showing in 12th place, with a time of 02:05.9. Reid Sabin, also of Whitefish, would have placed in the top 10, but blew the final gate on his second run and had to skate back around to cross the finish line.
All in all, an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie filled the finish area, where racers from eleven nations mingled and cheered each other on. Sprint classic races begin Sunday, with the grueling classic race on Monday.
The all-terrain classic race includes giant slalom sections, banked turns, rollers, several skate sprints, and a Nordic distance jump where competitors can catch up to 75 feet of air. The sprint classic is a shorter version of the full classic race. All races start at 10:30 am.
Brian Schott, MountainZone.com Correspondent