This was not the way Juneau skier Matt Beedle wanted to end the 2002-03 Telemark ski season.
Beedle, a member of the U.S. Telemark Ski Association's national team, had problems keeping the ski-side down during the U.S. Telemark Ski Association's national championships on March 14-17 at Crystal Mountain, Wash., and again at the World Telemark Ski Championships on March 22-24 at Big Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Mont.
"I fell in all but one race," Beedle said by phone from his training base of Salt Lake City. "It was kind of a bummer ending to a good season."
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Beedle, who turns 25 in May, was able to get up and complete some of the races where he fell. But the falls dropped him significantly in the standings.
At the U.S. championships, which doubled as the final World Cup races of the season, poor weather contributed to Beedle's problems. The conditions were so bad, some of the European teams pulled out of the series.
In the first race, a giant slalom on March 14, Beedle posted a respectable time for the first run that - even with six gate penalties - had him in 16th place. But he fell on the second run and earned a DNF (did not finish) for the event.
"The hill was wild, the weather was horrible and the carnage was huge," Beedle said of the first race. "I think 40 percent of the skiers didn't finish.
In the next race, a sprint classic on March 15, Beedle finished the first run ranked 10th overall and second among the Americans in the race. But a minor slip on the second run dropped him to 16th overall and third among Americans.
"The sprint classic was my one bright spot, and I fell in that one, too," Beedle said. "I fell on my hip and slid, then I had to traverse back to the gate."
In the classic race on March 16, Beedle had a run where he stayed on his feet the entire race.
The Telemark classic uses a long course where skiers have to go over a couple of jumps and ski through a banked turn, all while using the sport's trademark alternating bent-knee Telemark turn. Beedle finished 15th overall and fourth among Americans in the classic, but he thought he should have done better.
"I didn't fall or have any mishaps, but it wasn't a great run," Beedle said.
In his last race at Crystal Mountain, a slalom on March 17, Beedle didn't finish the first of two runs and earned a DNF.
The next week, Beedle was at the World Championships at his former stomping grounds of Big Mountain Resort. Beedle earned bachelor of science degree from nearby Montana State University, and many of the U.S. Telemark Ski Association national team members train at Big Mountain.
Even though he knew the courses, Beedle's luck didn't improve.
"At the World Championships I fell on every single run," he said. "It's a bummer. I guess I was going for it, but I didn't have the same feeling I'd had a couple of weeks earlier."
In the sprint classic race on March 22, Beedle ranked 16th overall after the first run and was the second American. But he fell on the second run and earned a DNF.
In the giant slalom race on March 23, Beedle finished 31st overall and was the sixth American. But a fall on his second run meant the time on that run was more than four seconds slower than his first run's clocking.
Beedle finished 28th overall and seventh among Americans in the classic race on March 24, but he lost seven seconds to penalties and he had another fall.
"In the classic I had to hike to get around a gate, but I still made it down," Beedle said. "I really didn't have a good run that week."
Despite the wobbles over his last two weeks, Beedle still thought his season was an overall success. He won a sprint classic race in the Swedish national championships on Jan. 24 and he finished 24th in the overall Telemark World Cup standings with 114 points, the fourth American in the standings.
Norwegians took five of the top six spots in the overall standings, with Kjetil Svik winning the overall title with 824 points to beat teammate Eirik Rykhus with 713. The top American was Chris Rice in 13th place with 165 points, followed by Glenn Gustafson in 20th place with 132 and Reid Sabin in 23rd place with 120 points.
In the World Cup standings for the classic race, Beedle ranked 26th with 32 points and was the fifth American. In the sprint classic standings, Beedle was 15th with 56 points and was the top American. He tied for 21st in the giant slalom and was the second American.
The U.S. team finished third in the Nation's Cup with 1,717 points. Norway won the Nation's Cup with 4,689 points, followed by runner-up Sweden with 1,912. Switzerland took fourth with 1,709 points.
"The season as a whole was good," said Beedle, who is the youngest skier on the U.S. team and recently applied to return to the University of Colorado so he can finish his masters degree (he's been working on a climate change research project for the school of geography). "I trained harder in Utah with the national skiers, and on my trip to Europe I had some runs where I was sixth or seventh after the first run, but fell or had something that dropped me back in the second run. My best finish was ninth."
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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