Junior Telemark racer Lorin Paley has been skiing almost as long as she has been walking and it shows in her many awards and accomplishments. This stellar student has managed to stay at the top of her class while continuing to train and improve. She even finds time for hobbies! Learn more about this incredible young lady in the following interview.
About Lorin Paley
Lorin Paley is a 16-year-old junior at Steamboat Springs High School in the ski paradise of Colorado. She began her journey into the world of skiing at the tender age of three years old in the little ski area of Hidden Valley, New Jersey. She was enrolled in their "Skiwee" program and by the end of the season, she was hooked.
Today, Lorin is a 4.0 student taking four AP courses. She also enjoys tennis, hunting, woodworking, swimming and playing her bass guitar. She has some terrific goals for her skiing as well as her education. For Lorin, the sky is the limit.
Interview with Lorin Paley-Junior Telemark Racer
Growing Up Skiing
When did you first become interested in skiing?Skiing is a family sport. Both of my parents skied with their families when they were young, and my grandfather served in the 10th Mountain Division, also known as the ski troops, during WWII. My brother and I started skiing like most kids start baseball or dance.
My brother also skis for the US Telemark National Team. This year he won third place overall at the US Telemark national Championships.
Did you take formal lessons or learn on your own?
Our home mountain had a series of programs that went from cradle to racing. My parents were Hurricane coaches on the weekends. This was the introduction level for racing.
Of course, as soon as I was almost old enough, age five, I became a Hurricane. I didn't see many race gates until I moved to Colorado at age nine. As a young athlete at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, I trained three times per week. As I progressed through the race age classes, I trained up to six times per week-afternoons, evenings and during the day on the weekends.
When did you first start competing?
Competitions started as fun races at age six, although I have always been serious about competing. I have raced almost every winter since then, including three Alpine Junior Olympics, four US Telemark National Championships, two Telemark World Cups, and one Telemark World Championship.
The main Telemark race is The Classic. It consists of an Alpine-style giant slalom course, a jump for distance, a horseshoe-shaped banked turn and a Nordic-style skate to the finish. It's an exciting and challenging event. A Classic race can take up to four minutes on the toughest courses, including portions of uphill skating. Most competitors are gasping for air at the finish.
This year I competed at the World Cup in Slovenia, World Championships in Austria and US National Championships at my home mountain, Steamboat in Colorado. The competition at the World Cup level is intense, but the racers are supportive. I broke my race skis during a crash at the race in Slovenia. An Austrian racer lent me a pair of her race skis for the next race in Austria. I went on to win two Junior World Championship races on those skis.
The US National Championship was a tightly fought competition. At the end of four days of racing, I was tied with the top ranked woman on the US Team. We each had two wins and two second place finishes. The National Title was decided by a tiebreaker, overall time for all races. I lost the tiebreaker by less than two seconds over seven race runs. Tough loss, but great competition.
How do you train for competition?
The base of my training takes place in the off-season. Every year I try to improve my fitness level. I have a group of friends that I exercise with each summer called "the breakfast club." We do a mix of aerobic, plyometric and strength training at 6:30 a.m. I also roller blade, swim and play tennis several times per week.
In the fall, I start training with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. We have six members of the US Telemark National Team in Steamboat. Our snow training begins in October with lots of skate skiing. As we get more snow, we start training with gates and progress to jump training. During the early season, I try to train six days per week.
An important part of my fitness includes diet, nutrition and recovery. I put a lot of physical stress on my body by training and racing. I work with a Rolfing practitioner to keep my body aligned, especially when I am feeling unusual soreness in my back, neck or knees.
What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?
I am pretty excited about winning the Classic and Sprint Classic Races at the Junior World Championships this winter. Hearing our National Anthem on the podium was awesome. I trained hard this winter and overcame an early season injury that set me back a few weeks. My skating improved dramatically, giving me the edge in these competitions. To win the sprint classic I skied two really good runs. The second run is always hard for me. In the past, I have had disappointing crashes; this time I nailed it.
Do you prefer Alpine or Telemark skiing?I have raced both Alpine and Telemark up until this year when it became too time consuming. My top goal was to reach the podium at the Junior Telemark World Championships, so I gave up Alpine racing early in the season. A minor injury cut back on my training time as well. It was too bad because I was improving some parts of my Alpine technique that I struggled with in past seasons.
I chose to focus on Telemark even though there is less recognition of the sport. Telemark racing isn't in the Olympics, though it should be, and there isn't any collegiate racing. Telemark skiing is very dynamic and requires a wide range of athletic ability and fitness.
I would like to continue to compete in Telemark racing and help the sport grow. Maybe someday it will make it into the Olympics. It would be awesome if I could be a part of that and stay involved with the sport.
What are your future goals?
My skiing goals are to win the overall Junior World Championships. I won two of the three races this year. After Juniors, I would like to break into the top three for the full women's World Cup field. My best finish against the full field this year was fifth place.
My current interests for college and beyond are medicine and possibly engineering. I am interested in preventing and treating sports injuries. Personal experience with skiing injuries has taught me a lot about the healing and rehabilitation of the body and how to get back to a high level of athletic performance. I also enjoy building projects and figuring out how to make things work better.
What advice would you give to new skiers just learning the sport?
If you are a kid, just go out and have fun. If you are older, get a good base of fitness and nutrition before hitting the slopes to prevent injury. Find a good coach or instructor to help you develop basic skills. If you are fortunate enough to have a local mountain, try to get out skiing as often as possible. Ski shops have daily or seasonal rental programs so you don't have to buy all your equipment.
Skiing around gates is a great way to improve your skiing skills. You don't have to be an expert skier. Most mountains have a public racecourse set up for recreational skiers. Nastar and the United States Skiing Association have programs geared from kids through master level skiers. Many ski areas now teach Telemark skiing. The United States Telemark Ski Association has information on Telemark racing.
Lorin is truly a talented Junior Telemark racer. Her enthusiasm and determination has carried her far in the sport she loves, and it will likely continue to carry her wherever she wants to go. LoveToKnow would like to thank Lorin for taking the time to do this interview and wishes her much success in the future.