At the Telemark World Championships in Espot, Spain, Breckenridge's Tommy Gogolen finished sixth in Wednesday's parallel sprint classic qualifier, putting himself in the finals ranks.
"I knew I had to charge if I even had a shot to make the top 16," Gogolen said via email, referring to the rank needed to head to the finals. It's not an easy feat. "I'm not too sure how this happened, but I skied fast today! Finally! It is still a little surreal, but I finished sixth. I'm still shocked."
In his blog, Gogolen describes going into attack mode.
"I remember while in the starting gate of my first run, actually gritting down on my teeth and saying to myself, 'It is time to attack.' I exploded out of the gate and quickly was in a good rhythm. I felt the snow really well under my feet - it was really bumpy and choppy snow, so I quickly made an adjustment to be really light on my skis. I boosted the jump and cleared the line. Then, the flat section that led us into the wrap was next," he wrote.
Taking a risky, but rewarding, chance, he went fast into the wrap and gained the lead as he heard his coach yell excitedly, "You're home free!"
He was seventh going into the second run, and his nerves set in quickly. But the second run ended up exactly like the first, putting him in sixth place heading into the finals.
Racers go head-to-head today in the finals, entering a downhill course with jumps and a wrap at the bottom before entering the skate to the finish. Gogolen is confident with his sixth-place finish.
"I have the potential to hang with the top guys in the world," he said in his email.
In the first round of 16, he's matched up against Olle Collberg from Sweden, who finished 11th in the preliminaries. Out of the top 16, a dozen have appeared at the World Championships before.
"Me? Ah, my name is barely known among these guys," Gogolen wrote in his blog.
Gogolen's goal in attending the world championships was to finish at least one race (of four) in the top 20. Because just 16 skiers make it to finals, this guarantees him a top 16 finish.
On Tuesday, Gogolen competed in the first of the four race, the classic, which has a longer skate section. He finished 25th.
"Overall, it was a fair day," he said. "I skied fast, but when I got to the skate section, I had a mishap and stepped on my pole and fell. I was able to continue to and still post a surprising result - 25th. The fact that I still skied to a decent result with a fall is a good sign leading into the rest of the week."