Selig captures gold at World Freeskiing Championships
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Rebecca Selig thought winning would be easy.
You can’t blame her ” in her first event on the Freeskiing World Tour she took third. Then the snow starting fighting back.
Her first season on the tour was filled with near-misses and disappointment. Instead of giving up, the Eagle resident worked harder.
It all paid off last weekend. Selig won the World Freeskiing Championships in Alyeska, Alaska against elite competition. The victory was her first on the tour.
“(It felt) amazing,” Selig said. “I put a lot of work into this. I was due to win. I felt like I earned it. I put it all together.”
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The invitation-only event in Alaska featured some of the best freeskiers in the world. Each skier took two runs down the mountain with a possibility of 50 points for each. Judges scored the runs on line choice, fluidity, control, aggression/energy and form/technique.
For the competitors, though, it’s all about line choice. All of the other point categories are directly based on how difficult a line the skier chooses. That’s precisely where Selig excelled.
“You try to find the where it’s the most exposed,” Selig said. “You try to find things you can do that will push your limits.”
Last weekend’s win might have been made possible by her first-season struggles. Learning to ski some of the world’s most extreme terrain took time.
“(At first), I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is going to be easy,'” Selig said. “Then I fell in a few (competitions). I didn’t qualify in some. That was hard to deal with. You have to put it together when they want you to, not when you want too.”
Determined to make an impact on the tour, Selig entered herself in every event. Some went well, others didn’t, but the experience turned out to be invaluable. After last weekend’s victory, Selig finished third in the overall tour standings for the 2008-09 season.
To get ready for the freeskiing championships, Selig did something not totally unexpected. The 29-year-old skied ” a lot. Selig constantly searched out new terrain to test her skills.
She also worked hard off the slopes. During her first season on tour, Selig was still trying to figure out the mental side of freeskiing. Choosing a line is a risk-reward proposition. A tougher run earns more points, but that’s only if you can pull it off.
“It’s a game,” Selig said. “The best skier doesn’t always win. You have to keep out there, keep trying. You have to figure out the line and that stuff.”
Like most high-level skiers, Selig first clicked into her skis at young age. When she was just 3-years-old, Selig was taking turns with her dad.
The unique part of Selig’s story is where she started to hone her skills. No, it wasn’t Vail or another big mountain, it was in Kalamazoo, Mich., at the Timber Ridge ski area.
Seeking better snow and more terrain, Selig moved to the Vail Valley 10 years ago. It wasn’t long before a friend told her she had what it takes to compete at the highest level.
“My best friend told me this is what I needed to do,” Selig said. “Not only was it really fun, it pushed me to grow personally and professionally as a person.”
Part of that growth included creating a support staff to help her out. For instance, Kevin Miskinis did some last minute repairs to Seilig’s skis before the freeskiing championships.
It seems to be all coming together for Selig. With her first win under her skis, except her to keep challenging for gold.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.