Local alpine racer making waves at international level

Tanner Perkins building for future success

by Than Acuf

Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team alpine ski racer Tanner Perkins continues to climb the ranks nationally, earning his first trip overseas in mid-February to get a glimpse of the bigger world of racing.

Perkins started out in Crested Butte as a U12 and made an immediate impression on coach Conor Lynch.

“He had a great natural stance but it was his work ethic,” says Lynch. “He always wanted to ski more, be the first one on the hill and the last one off.”

That work ethic paid off as Tanner bumped up his training to three days a week and continued to gain speed and strength. He reached a huge benchmark last year in his first season, racing U16 when we won the regional downhill title at Vail.

Unfortunately, with no downhill races at Nationals, Tanner was unable to compete, but the regional win did punch his ticket to the National Performance Series races this season where he competes against the top 30 athletes in the nation at the U16 level. And while results keep the train moving to bigger and better things, Lynch points out that the strategy for Tanner’s season this year was more about continued development and less about actual results.

“We try not to be results-based,” explains Lynch. “We decided to increase his number of training days and figured the results would come.”

Ultimately, Tanner turned heads from the start at the first event of the performance series in Copper. Aside from the results he posted, it was his attitude that attracted the attention of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association director Chip Knight. Knight raced for the U.S. Ski Team in three different Olympic games and is now part of the development program for the U.S. Ski Team.

“Tanner turned heads not only with his strong speed skiing in SG [Super G], but also with his athletic ability at dryland and nonstop work ethic,” says Lynch.

His results then sent him to Burke, Vermont for another performance series event and while the ice proved a bit troublesome, Tanner posted strong enough results to get invited to compete against skiers from 35 countries in the Pokal Loka, a junior race that is on the World Cup hill in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

“It’s one of the best experiences you can get,” says Lynch. “He gets to experience Europe and the atmosphere over there before he starts racing FIS [Fédération Internationale de Ski] next year.”

It was Tanner’s first trip out of the country and he stepped up to the challenge, finishing eighth overall in the Giant Slalom.

“He did absolutely amazing over there,” says Lynch. “I knew he was going to do well, but to finish eighth is incredible.”

Now back in the states, Tanner will continue training as he prepares for his return to the U16 Rocky Mountain Regional Championships in Vail starting March 11. Athletes will compete in the Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom with the top racers qualifying for Nationals at Sugarloaf, Maine.

Tanner is on track for a spot at the National Championships and Lynch feels Tanner is at the top of his game for his age.

“He’s definitely matured,” says Lynch. “He’s physically stronger while his attitude is still the same. He loves speed and he loves going fast and now his GS and Slalom are really good.”

Both Lynch and Tanner know that the U16 Nationals are just another stepping stone though, and he’s got plenty more ahead of him as he jumps into the world of FIS racing next year.

“He’s definitely one of the best in the world for his age but next year is going to be telling, racing FIS on the international level,” says Lynch. “He sees the big picture, which is good. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

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