Big Mountain, Montana
February 19-21, 2000
Three US Telemark Team members and local residents of Whitefish once again claimed top honors in the final day of World Cup Races at Big Mountain Ski Resort.
For the women, Mirjam Rubin of Switzerland took first place with at time of 3:16.2. Pia Raita of Finland, who has claimed two first place finishes in Whitefish took second place with a time of 3:17.2. Cody Thompson of the USA took third place with a time of 03:19.2.
"It was a long, tough course," said Sabin. "But it flowed really well. I felt great." Sabin came out of this race with only one gate penalty, which allowed him to hold onto the fastest time at the finish. He is currently ranked ninth in the world, but should be heading towards the top five to join the ranks of Chris Rice, presently 5th in the world.
"It was a lot of fun," said Rice. "My run felt clean." Rice finished the race with no penalties added to his score. He placed fourth in Saturday's Giant Slalom and fifth in yesterday's Sprint Classic.
"My turns felt a lot better today, but the penalties are hurting me," commented Thompson, who finished the race with the fastest recorded time, but four gate penalties and two jump penalties bumped her back to third place. She is currently ranked second in the world.
The all-terrain Classic race is undoubtedly one of the most fatiguing races in the sport of skiing, employing technical skills as well as raw, physical power where competitors often collapse in exhaustion at the finish line. It includes giant slalom sections, banked turns, rollers, two different skate sprints, and two Nordic distance jumps.
At the end of today's Classic, racers were seen gasping for air, spitting and hoping to hold back the dams in the dreaded "puke zone" - the finish area after the last sprint to the finish line. No confirmed pukings were reported.
Even racers that didn't place where they had hoped were still upbeat. "It was the worst run of my life," said US Team member, Neil Persons, who still finished in the top half of the field. "I had two different brain lapses - it can't get any worse than today. But it's still a lot of fun."
World Cup races now head north to Kimberly, BC for Sprint Classic and Classic competitions February 23-24.
Brian Schott, MountainZone.com Correspondent