Back on the slopes

Steamboat skiers competing in U.S. freestyle selection events

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— Former Winter Sports Club mogul skier Emiko Torito opened the freestyle season on a high note last week with a victory at the Rocky Mountain Champ-

ionships in Winter Park.

But most of the skiers in the region didn't need a first-place showing to get them pumped up they were just glad to be back on snow after several months of dry-land training.

"It was nice to get back on snow, but it was also a little awkward since most of the skiers had only had a few days of training," Steamboat's Lauren Crawford said.

Torito, who is now a member of the U.S. Ski Team, will be looking for more success this week as she moves on to key U.S. Ski Team selection events, which will also take place in Winter Park.

Torito led the pack last Friday in the women's open event by slipping past second-place finisher Justine Vanhoute and third-place finisher Jessica Davis with a score of 24.06.

The former Lowell Whiteman student is competing this week along with local skiers Kathleen Dougherty, Emily Heller, Carly Gmeiner and Gina Gmeiner at the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team's selection events. Crawford also qualified, but injured her back in training last Saturday and was unable to ski.

"I had a bye for the NorAm, so it wasn't that big a deal," Crawford said from home on Tuesday. "I would love to be back on snow, but right now it's day-to-day."

Wendy Allen, the Steamboat Springs freestyle director, said the selection events are a way for the U.S. Team to pick the best skiers at this level for NorAm events this winter. It will also help decide two open spots for domestic World Cups, including one in Steamboat Springs.

Steamboat's Chris Pusey, Jarrett Arguelles and Jordan Chiovarelli will also be competing on the men's side of the selection events.

In addition to a spot in the upcoming World Cups, the overall winners of the men's and women's selection events will also earn a spot on the "C" team if they don't already have a spot on the U.S. Team.

Allen said the local freestyle team was pleased with the results from the opening weekend especially since the local skiers had little time to prepare for the regional event.

"We came back with some mixed feelings," Allen said. "But overall I think everybody was pretty happy. Because of the lack of snow we were a little behind."

However, the coach was impressed with the showings of the local skiers especially on the women's side.

Torito won Friday's opening event and was followed by another local skier who is no longer with the club Dougherty in fifth place.

Current Winter Sports Club skiers Heller placed seventh, Crawford was eighth, Carly Gmeiner was 10th and Gina Gmeiner came in 16th.

On the men's side, Pusey came in 15th in the event, which was won by U.S. Ski Team member Garth Hager. Matthew Colin came in second and Timothy Warner was third.

Other top local finishes included Arguelles in 29th, Kyle Ewing in 30th and Scott Vos in 31st.

On Saturday, the skiers returned to the slopes for the second day of the event.

Logan Belz led the men's team with an 11th-place finish. Nick Bucci came in 23rd, Vos was 27th, Ewing was 29th and Paul Khuri was 31st.

Jesse Jenison, who recorded a score of 24.79, won the event.

Toney Basile was second and Andrew Deubel was third.

Allen said the Steamboat women failed to break into the top half of the results.

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