Boise's Hailey Duke is beginning much more than just today's inaugural slalom race of the World Cup ski season; she's also beginning a new chapter in her journey to the top of her game.
The World Cup has made its way to Levi, Finland, which has been characterized as the best ski resort in Finland (Wikipedia) and the worst (Tripadvisor). The race site is 110 miles north of the Arctic Circle, which means limited daylight.
But Duke's sights are on the horizon as the 23-year-old Capital High School graduate begins anew with her own team, Independent Ski Racing, which she began with fellow Olympian Megan McJames after the two were cut from the U.S. Ski Team.
When Boise Weekly spoke with Duke from her home-away-from-home in the Austrian Alps town of Stubai, she said she was "continuing to build consistent, solid runs, making sure my speed is up to par."
"But I can tell you that things are going pretty well," said Duke.
And as for garnering moral and financial support from her fans, Duke was optimistic that interest would build "once the race season starts."
"When the snow starts falling, people get very interested," she said. "My message is that I'm heading out to perform at my best. It has nothing to do with what team I'm on. Hopefully, we can inspire people in that we're putting the politics aside and just getting out there to ski."
You can read our full conversation with Duke in the Nov. 7 issue of Boise Weekly.