Vail’s Schleper defies his age on the ski slopes |

Vail’s Schleper defies his age on the ski slopes

Ian CroppVail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado Anywhere, anytime and against anyone, Hunter Schleper is fast.This past season, Schleper, the Vail skier, won races at junior nationals in the U.S. and Canada, beat some national team members at other contests and even picked up a win in Europe.It was kind of amazing, said Bruce Knoepfel, coach of Iced Out Racing, a team with several Vail racers including Schleper. The way it kept happening was almost shocking.By virtue of his performances, Schleper met the criteria for the U.S. Development Team, but declined the bid, opting to stay with Knoepfel at Iced Out Racing. Schlepers sister Sarah, accepted a bid to the U.S. Team after a two-year break.In the past kids who go to the D team havent made it that far, Schleper said. The setup we have now is working great, so why fix it?With a small group of skiers, Iced Out Racing has a lot of flexibility and can change travel plans at the last second. Earlier this winter, Schleper and his teammates were planning on heading to Europe, but decided at the last minute to head up to Canada for two weeks of racing, including the Canadian National Championships Canadian Junior National Championships, where Schleper won three races and was on the podium for three more.And then theres Schlepers coach, Knoepfel, who was named the United States Ski and Snowboarding Associations domestic alpine coach of the year.Hes great, Schleper said. It was nice for him to get recognized.As this past winter rolled on, and turned into spring, Schleper kept improving his points profile. After some races in Mammoth, Calif., in mid-March, Schleper and Knoepfel headed to Sweden and Norway for two weeks of competition.I think Hunter took it to the next level in those European races, Knoepfel said. On the last day there were three or four World Cup guys in the field and Hunter won the second run.Schleper was happy to perform at a high level overseas.Its totally different, he said. There are a lot more good skiers and you dont know who any of the good guys are.In a giant slalom race in Norway, Schleper bested the field and lowered his points.He proved his points were legitimate, Knoepfel said. Point purgeWhen the final points list of the season came out, Schleper had the second-lowest slalom score in the world for his birth year (1991), a 20.28, just 0.10 behind fellow American and friend Michael Ankeny. Skiers earn lower points by doing well in races where there is a competitive field.In the giant slalom, there as nobody close to Schleper, who has and absurdly low 1 19.86 points; the next closest racer in the world for his age has 26.29 points. Schleper has the second-lowest points among skiers born in 1990 and the eighth-lowest among skiers born in 1989. In the super-combined, Schleper has the fourth-lowest points for his birth year.I played it as it went along, Schleper said. I dont really make goals I dont enjoy them. Im always trying to do the best I can.Schleper is currently in Florida this week pursuing his summer passion wakeboarding. After the week-long camp on one plank, Schleper will head to Minnesota for the summer where his family has a lake house. And soon enough, hell be back on skis.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or

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