Truckee Nordic skier Matt Gelso nears crossroad | SierraSun.com

Truckee Nordic skier Matt Gelso nears crossroad

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Courtesy of University of ColoradoMatt Gelso of Truckee competes in an NCAA Nordic race for the University of Colorado at Boulder last winter. Gelso said his future in ski racing depends largely on how he fares his senior season.
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The question seemed simple enough: and#8220;What is your goal in skiing after you graduate?and#8221;

But a silence ensued. Then a sigh.

and#8220;I’m not sure,and#8221; the voice answered on the other end of the line.

Matt Gelso paused again, then continued.

and#8220;I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do yet, so I haven’t really made any goals for afterward,and#8221; he said. and#8220;I’m still trying to decide, and#8216;Do I want to go to grad school? Do I want to keep skiing?’ I guess some of it will be dictated on how this season goes.and#8221;

Gelso and#8212; a 21-year-old Truckee native who’s entering his senior season at the University of Colorado and#8212; expanded on his answer.

and#8220;If I come out of this season feeling good, chances are very high that I’ll try to ski for a couple years. But if I come out of this burned out and not excited about skiing, then chances are a lot smaller, but there’s still a chance I’ll try another year.and#8221;

Gelso dominated the junior ranks with Far West Nordic before earning a full-ride scholarship to Colorado and an invitation onto the U.S. Ski Team’s development team. The Truckee grad went on to piece together a stellar freshman season in which he recorded 10 top-five finishes in a dozen races, including a win. After finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the classical and freestyle disciplines at the NCAA Championships, he was named the Buffaloes’ Male Freshman Athlete of the Year.

The following season, despite an untimely illness that forced him to sit out consecutive races, Gelso bounced back to record a 17th-place finish in the freestyle and a ninth place in the classical at the NCAA Championships. As a junior last year, he won a race and recorded a number of top-three finishes before struggling through fatigue at the end of the season.

and#8220;I was satisfied with my middle-season results, but I was not excited about my subpar NCAA performance last year,and#8221; said Gelso, referring to his 11th place in the classical and 20th in the freestyle. and#8220;I tried to do too much racing during the season by going to Europe, and that just took a lot out of me.

By the time NCAAs rolled around in the first week of March, I did not have much fitness left and I struggled, and I was not happy.and#8221;

He holds high hopes for his senior season, which kicks off Jan. 15 with the Montana State Invitational.

The fact that Gelso was dropped from the U.S. Ski Team in the past year and#8212; partially due to budget cuts, Gelso said, as well as his performance and the fact that he’s a collegiate racer and cannot fully dedicate himself to international races and#8212; may work out in his favor.

and#8220;If I ski well I can ski myself back onto the (U.S. Ski) Team. I’m not worried about that,and#8221; he said. and#8220;But it allows me to focus on my college racing this year, and put NCAAs as my No. 1 goal, instead of being forced to make some other races that aren’t college, because I only have one more year of eligibility. I only have one more chance for NCAAs.and#8221;

Gelso said he wants to win at least one of the two races at the NCAA Championships. In particular, he has his sights set winning the 20-kilometer freestyle race.

Bruce Cranmer, Gelso’s head coach at Colorado, said he’s confident that his No. 1 skier can bring home a national championship.

and#8220;That would be a great achievement for him, and he certainly has the ability to do it,and#8221; Cranmer said. and#8220;And it will be his last chance, so it would be great if he could pull it off this year. Hopefully he stays healthy and skis fast.and#8221;

Gelso is on pace to graduate in the spring with a degree in finance. He’ll then set off on a two- to three-week rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with friends. And from there, who knows?

and#8220;After that I don’t really have any plans nailed down yet,and#8221; he said.

It all hinges on his senior season.