Vail’s Kloser wins Nor-Am crown; Europe next
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Vail freestyle skier Heidi Kloser, 17, is making this moguls thing look easy.
It isn’t that easy in reality. The state of Kloser’s ribs is a testament to that fact.
Kloser, a Ski and Snowboard Club athlete, overcame a rib-rattling crash Thursday to win Friday’s Nor-Am dual moguls in Steamboat Springs. With the win, she captured the 2009-10 Nor-Am overall moguls crown and a spot on the World Cup tour for its final three events of the season.
“I didn’t know at first. I figured I was first or second in the standings,” Kloser said. “I wasn’t completely sure until we were waiting for awards. Scott Rawles told me.”
Rawles is the head moguls coach of the U.S. Ski Team, and when he delivered the news, Kloser’s reaction was rather matter-of-fact.
“I guess I wasn’t really surprised,” she said. “I had good results. I was really happy.”
In fairness, Kloser has had a matter-of-fact approach to this season, which has been made up of a lot of firsts. In December, she made the U.S. Freestyle C-Team by finishing second in a FIS race in Winter Park.
While the tour was in the United States, Kloser competed on the World Cup level, making the finals – top 16 – in two of her three starts. As the World Cup went back to Europe and took a break for the Olympics, Kloser returned to Nor-Am competition. All she did there was rattle off six top-10 finishes including a win in individual moguls in Apex, British Columbia, last Saturday.
She took the Nor-Am moguls lead into the Thursday’s event, but a mistake on Top Air, the jump on the upper half of Steamboat’s mogul course, put her prospects in severe danger.
“I just got a little caught out, and stepped on my skis coming down,” Kloser said. “I crashed pretty hard. I had to finish the run. Once I finished the run, I realized what happened.”
She finished 24th Thursday, dropping down to fourth in the Nor-Am points. More importantly, Kloser had dislodged some of her ribs. She went to physical therapy, became one with the ice pack and took two Advils.
Kloser got her ribs taped up Friday morning and went straight to qualifications for the dual moguls – there was no time for a regular run to see how she would react.
“I was excited and ready to race today,” Kloser said. “It still hurt, but it was all right.”
Kloser breezed through qualifying and then worked her way through the 16-racer bracket. She met up with Canada’s Chelsea Hentituk in the finals, and it was revenge time. Hentituk had beaten Kloser in the dual-moguls semifinals in Apex on Sunday.
Kloser got through Top Air cleanly against Hentituk, but still trailed. Kloser passed the Canadian in the middle section of the course and never looked back.
“I didn’t want her to get anything on me,” Kloser said. “I was just trying to have clean air and have a clean exit, and was just keeping my feet together through the moguls and had my eyes up.”
With the win, Kloser has a spot in next week’s moguls and dual moguls events in Are Sweden, with a stop in Sierra Nevada, Spain, on March 18. After that, it’s off to nationals in Squaw Valley Calif.
Kloser said her goal for the World Cup events is to make the finals out of qualifying and see what points she can accumulate. She sits at No. 32 in the world after her three previous World Cup events.
The U.S. Freeskiing Team will make decisions later this year as far as reorganizing its ranks, but the Nor-Am overall moguls win as well as future World Cup and nationals finishes could help Kloser make her case.
“Moving up is always nice,” Kloser said. “I don’t know if it will happen this year, but you always hope.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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