Watersports

Stiegler back among the big names of the World Pro Ski Tour

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FILE – First place Resi Stiegler poses on the podium after a U.S. Women’s Alpine Championship slalom ski race, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Aspen, Colorado. Three-time Olympian Resi Stiegler will return to the ski racing scene this weekend at the World Professional Ski Championships in New Mexico. (AP Photo/Hugh Carey, File)

PA

A year ago, Resi Stiegler retired from ski racing. Eight weeks ago, she gave birth to her daughter, Rosi. A few days ago, she handed Rosi off to her husband to sneak in for an extra afternoon workout.

She had a race – two, in fact – to prepare.

The three-time U.S. Olympian will make a near-return to World Pro Ski Tour championship racing this weekend at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. With lucrative prizes on the line, the field is filled with Olympians, World Cup stars, national team members, college stars and those coming out of retirement (see: Stiegler).

“I planned to win, because that’s who I am,” Stiegler said of his expectations with qualifying on Friday, a men’s and women’s parallel slalom race on Saturday and a parallel giant slalom race on Sunday. “But then I didn’t know they were coming.”

“They” would refer to Canadian Erin Mielzynski and American Paula Moltzan, who both competed at the Beijing Winter Games.

The circuit that has long attracted elite racers. With roots dating back to the late 1960s, it once featured the likes of Billy Kidd and the Mahre brothers (Phil and Steve) before disbanding around 1999. The tour returned in 2017, but the world championships were postponed for the past two years due to the pandemic.

$20,000 to be won for the male and female winners of both races. Additionally, there is a bonus of $25,000 for the male and female runner who performs best in the two events combined.

The competition will be held side-by-side on a super slalom course that includes pro-style jumps. One race each on the red and blue courses (for fairness), with the winner progressing in a March Madness-style slice based on time differential.

On the men’s side there are names like Linus Strasser, who was part of Germany’s Olympic silver medalist in the team parallel event in Beijing, and American River Radamus (fourth in the giant slalom in Beijing) . There is also Robert Cone, the 30-year-old Vermonter who has dominated the circuit for the past two seasons. In all, more than 50 men entered.

The court for women is smaller – around two dozen – but just as stacked. Moltzan is coming off the slalom crown at the US Championships.

The circuit is not designed to compete with the World Cup circuit. It’s just another avenue for racing competition.

“We are the NASCAR of their Formula 1 – complementary circuits,” explained WPST CEO Jon Franklin, whose partnership deals include Rocket Mortgage. “The action must be fast and furious.”

Also expect the unexpected.

Such was the case of Tuva Norbye, the 25-year-old runner who retired from the Norwegian team due to a back problem. On a whim, Norbye, a graduate student from the University of Utah, decided to participate in a WPST event in January. With borrowed skis and gear, she won the event and the $10,000 that came with it.

A month later, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, she won again. Another $10,000.

For this event, she had her running gear shipped from home and increased her training. The riders go through a time trial on Friday to determine their seeding for the tournament, which will be a field of 16 for women and 32 for men.

“The level of competition is really high, and here for the finals it will be the highest it has ever been,” Norbye said. “I’m excited for this. Actually, I’m getting a little nervous too.

A casual chat with her husband, German slalom racer David Ketterer, prompted Stiegler to return to the starting grid. He simply asked: Would it be fun to run together at an event?

Extremely, thought Stiegler. And so here they are.

Excitement is mounting for Stiegler, 36, whose long but injury-filled career included 178 World Cup appearances – one podium finish – and more than a dozen surgeries. Stiegler retired last April after winning the slalom at the national championships.

Stiegler, who lives in Wyoming and trains in Jackson Hole, skied until the day Rosi was born in early February. She also watched the Beijing Games and her heart broke for her good friend Nina O’Brien, who fell near the finish line in the women’s giant slalom and suffered a broken leg.

Shortly after Rosi’s birth, O’Brien wrote under Stiegler’s Instagram post, “I know a good babysitter who has lots of free time.”

Stiegler said she was thrilled to support the race.

“If it’s a really great thing that goes well, I can really have a fun year (on the World Pro Ski Tour) next year,” said Stiegler, who coaches her husband and helps out. overseeing Stiegler ski race camps with her. brother.

Any chance of a full-scale comeback?

“I’m retired,” Stiegler said with a laugh.

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