Lutsen

Lutsen, you are one magical place. You take kids starting in the 50s, and 60s, let them kick my ass (bib 3) out of flip, (31st), and have them score some of the best races of their lives. I wish I could say I wasn’t trying, but in truth, I brought the focus and intensity I would to an Olympic run, and admirably/depressingly, I wrestled my way to a hard fought 28th place.

I was left to wallow/trying to sell my skis in the parking lot, which inevitably reminded me of the steepest grade on the race hill, so I packed it in and headed home.

I shook my fist in fury/defeat at you as I drove away with my ego sorely bruised, and a promise on my lips to never, ever, return to such a forsaking place of my career.

More racers however were the opposite. They departed the famous Lutsen with a smile lighting up their faces, a career best (or four) under their belts, and are already looking into flights to come back at the end of next season.

To them I say… Hell. Yes. Congrats, and keep that momentum going into next season. You have the points, now gather that confidence and back them up.

To all the naysayers out there, chew on this.

Many words have been used to describe this hill and these races, the least of which being, “give away”. Honestly, it would be easy for me to name them the same; it would certainly save me some face. But the truth is that it is a generalization that is wholly inaccurate.

“Give away,” seems to insinuate that any of the top seeded skiers were purposefully slowing down to give the back of the packers a better shot at scoring. Refer to paragraph one as to my commitment to these races, and I can assure you that my fellow top seeded skiers shared the same dedication. Honestly, I wish bib 62 had slowed down for me! God dammit, I needed to score! Come on man…

Logan Mackie, (bib 62) had other intentions than helping this guy out though. Logan, whom previously had a world rank of 1,683 with a F.I.S GS point profile of 54, raced to finish 11th and 16th at the GS races. This will drop his points into the 20s and lower his WR by about 1,200.

Colin Martens starting 57th finished 10th and 13th respectively in the same two races, dropping him from 50 points, to 28 in just two races. That’s incredibly sick.

I realize some of these words are redolent of The Race of Dreams, but I said it then, and I will say it again. It is always deserved. Logan and Colin didn’t beat me because I was lax with my focus. They kicked my ass because they skied that hill a hell of a lot better than me, and many others.

Lutsen takes a different set of skills to be fast. It is not the usual steep, anything goes sort of hill. I can make sizeable mistakes on a hill like Main Street at Stowe Mountain, because it is a steep, technical hill where you can make up time at the next roll over. Lutsen however, offers no quarter when it comes to mistakes. If you don’t know how to be subtle with pressure and don’t know exactly where to put that pressure, you will be bleeding time the whole way down.

Some people understand these subtle nuances, and others are masters at it. It is those masters of this uniquely difficult terrain that prevailed last week and capitalized on what we were all striving for.

Hats off guys, and goodbye forever, Lutsen.

-Tucker

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2 thoughts on “Lutsen

  1. Tucker, I admire your candor. As a racer parent I was involved in the first 10 Lutsen Spring Series. I saw racers do well and others struggle. Some racers advanced their careers at the LSS. Some that did so moved on to NORAMs, European Cups, the World Cup and even the Olympics. Thanks to you and all the other top seeds that have visited Lutsen in the spring to put your points in the race and to give kids a chance to race against their heros! As you say, it is a highly competitive atmosphere/event! Thanks to all those who give their time and effort to continue the ski racing traditions of the upper midwest! I hope you’ll reconsider and return to Lutsen and share your experience and give those who look up to you the opportunity to race against those that go before them! Those who gripe will continue to be shown that some will use the boost they received at Lutsen to move farther and higher. Others, just like those that have an exceptional race(s) at other series will try hard to equal their best results. That’s Ski Racing!

  2. I completely agree with you. I went to these races last year and dropped my GS points from 85 to 45 in two races. Most of the top seed came down looking confused, not sure where they had lost the time. Even some coaches could not tell the difference between a slow and fast run. Its a strange race, but the ones who can figure out the hill can have the race of their lives.

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