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No skis? No problem for this slalom racer

No skis? No problem for Florian Szwebel.

Juggling high school and high-level ski racing is always a balancing act — but this was extreme.

Florian Szwebel, an 18-year-old skier from Colorado, is enjoying global applause after television broadcasters captured footage of him somehow staying upright while both of his skis came off during a slalom run Sunday at the Alpine skiing world championships in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

“It was pretty fun,” Szwebel said Tuesday when the Daily News tracked him down in Canada, where he’s competing in a series of races.

Video of Szwebel’s unintentional stunt began spreading online minutes after it happened. A senior at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, Szwebel is hoping to qualify for the U.S. Ski Team’s development team. He wasn’t actually a competitor in Sunday’s race but rather a forerunner — a skier that organizers send down a course ahead of the racers to test the timing systems, course layout and snow.

“The course was pretty straight and I was going pretty fast,” Szwebel says. “I caught my tips on the double gate and walked right out of my skis. Next thing I knew I was boot skiing.”

The video shows him lifting his arms in triumph as he slides down the icy mountain on his ski boots after what ski racers call a “double ejection.” After coming to a stop, Szwebel laughed while a group of nearby coaches cheered for him. Then he put his skis back on and finished the course. When he got to the finish area, Norwegian television reporters wanted to speak with him.

They hadn’t witnessed the feat but had read about it on Twitter, where Norway’s ski champion Kjetil Jansrud had commented on it.

Post by Yle Urheilu.

“That forerunner,” Jansrud wrote. “Give him/her a special medal. That was unbelievable!”

Since Sunday, as the video clip has spread online, Szwebel’s online identity has mostly been “that forerunner,” although friends and family have recognized him and have been bombarding him with appreciative messages.

“The most common comment has been about my bindings,” Szwebel says, referring to the piece of ski gear that keeps boots locked to skis. “The bindings operated the way they were supposed to. If I hadn’t come out I would have eaten it really hard.”

Instead, Szwebel is charging ahead toward the national championships. Until he makes the U.S. Ski Team he plans to raise funds for his training and racing program through the RallyMe website. He hopes his balancing act on Sunday helps that cause.

Whatever happens, Szwebel will probably land on his feet.

Daily News – Sports

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