CAN SKI-POLE-SWORD BRANDISHING NOLAN
KASPER RISE FROM INJURIES TO WORLD CUP
PODIUM HONORS AGAIN? BY HANK MCKEE
Sir Skis-a-Lot Nolan Kasper brandishes his sword at Beaver Creek.
When Nolan Kasper finished his second run of the Beaver Creek slalom in the
lead, he brandished a ski pole like a sword, made a few swats through the air
and then put it in an imaginary scabbard at his hip. It would appear he’s ready for
future successes practicing a finish area signature. “I thought about it a couple
of days ago, but it really came on the fly,” said Nolan, who would end up fourth in
the Dec. 8 race. “You try to pull out as much as you can when you can.”
And sometimes, what you pull out is a podium. Last March 6, just a few weeks before he turned 22, Nolan Kasper placed second in a World Cup slalom at Kranjska
Gora, Slovenia, finishing less than a tenth of a second behind Mario Matt. It was
an affirmation of what coaches and fellow athletes had been saying all season:
Kasper is fast.
It was also cause for American celebration. It was the first slalom podium for a
U.S. man in two seasons.
It had been, literally, a long haul for Kasper. It was his 30th race of the season, split
fairly equally between the World Cup and the brutish Europa Cup circuit.
“I was in Europe from December 28 to March 22nd,” he said late last spring of his
packed itinerary. “Some guys got to go home, but the way the schedule fell, I was
just there the whole time. You get attached to your computer and Skype and you
really get to know the five guys you’re with all the time.”
Kasper has not only gotten used to life on the road, he really rather enjoys it,
despite some pretty severe drawbacks. “You make a lot of sacrifices, relationship-wise,” he said. “When I come home I don’t really feel like I’m home. I’m traveling
out of a suitcase all the time and it is a bummer, but it’s a small sacrifice, really.