Ever heard of a reipelykkje?
Although it looks like a word a toddler might type on a keyboard, it’s actually a Norwegian ski racing term.
Literally translated as “knot of rope,” a reipelykkje (pronounced rap-oh-lusha) is a large, 360-degree banked turn. It’s an element in telemark ski racing.
Ever heard of telemark ski racing?
While the Alpine racing world focused its attention on the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships held earlier this month in Colorado, the 2015 FIS World Telemark Skiing Championships are coming to Steamboat on February 23 – 27.
The Steamboat competition will be only the second time the World Championships have been held in the United States. They were previously held at Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort in 2003.
This year, Steamboat is expecting teams from the US, Canada, Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Sweden, Slovakia, Austria and Italy.
Other countries considering sending teams include Hungary, Finland, Czech Republic, Japan and Ukraine.
Clearly, this is a worldwide sport, with worldwide appeal.
So What is Telemark Racing?
As you may know, telemark skiing is one of the oldest forms of skiing. The technique of separating the legs and lifting the back heel for leverage originated in the 1870s when Norwegian Sondre Norheim began using stiff bindings around the heels for stability and shaped his skis with a narrow waist to facilitate turning. Norheim was from the Telemark region, thus the name of his brand of skiing.
Telemark racing uses the same split-leg turning technique and adds speed, jumps and skating. It is the only ski racing discipline where athletes compete in all forms of skiing in one top-to-bottom event.
There are four competitions: The Classic, the Sprint Classic, the Parallel Spring and Team Parallel Sprint. In each of these events, competitors must complete telemark turns through typical Giant Slalom gates; fly off a jump; make it through the reipelykkje (called the “rap” for ease of pronunciation) and finish with skate skiing (also sometimes called Nordic freestyle).
Time penalties are assessed by gate and jump judges and totaled during the race. Penalties are given for failure to complete full telemark turns (1 second), failure to pass the jump line (3 seconds); and failure to land a jump in a Nordic stance (1 second).
What and Who To Watch
The Classic race will run on Vagabond at Steamboat Ski Resort. One of the longest courses on the World Cup circuit, the race consists of one run and can include an uphill finish.
The Sprint races will be held on the Upper and Lower Face runs at Howelsen Hill, ending at the mountain’s base lodge. The Sprint Classic is a shorter version of the regular Classic, while the Parallel Sprint is a head to head dual elimination race, and a spectator favorite.
The team Parallel Sprint follows the same format, pitting country against country.
As for who to watch, Tobias Mueller of Germany is the dominator on the Men’s side, winning World Cup races at Steamboat in 2014. On the Women’s side, look for Amelie Reymond of Switzerland. With 80 World Cup victories and 112 podiums at the start of the 2014-15 season, she only needs 6 more victories and 20 podiums to become the most decorated ski racer of all time, surpassing even Alpine legend Ingemar Stenmark.
The U.S. team is made up of 6 World Cup Athletes, supplemented by five US National Team skiers. Six of the 11 team members are from Steamboat and excited to race on their home snow.
Madi McKinstry, the lone woman on the US World Cup squad is excited to compete in Steamboat.
“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.
“It means the other Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coaches from the alpine side help us set up B-Net, slip and dye the course, and even sometimes carry our clothes down to the bottom! Large-scale events like this demonstrate just how close the community in Steamboat really is.”
Other team members (many still in college or high school) include Cory Snyder, Tanner Visnick, Birk Larsen, Devon Wright and Tommy Gogolen on the World Cup Team, and Jeffrey Gay, Sarah Carley, Taylor Finn, Charlie Dresen, Larry Bosche, Jack Rosenthal, Bailey Wallisch, Lyta Foulk and Brendan Durum from the National Team.
When You Go…
If you can make it, this is a don’t miss winter event! There is no charge to watch the races and enjoy the fun international atmosphere.
Racing begins on Tuesday, February 24 with the Sprint Classic at Howelsen Hill. For a full schedule, check here.
Can’t make it to Steamboat? All Howelsen Hill races will stream live and the Mount Werner races will be shown with a delay.
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