Thursday, February 8, 2001
Steamboat Springs It's just past 8 a.m. in Steamboat Springs, and Lowell Whiteman senior Michelle Gorgone already has her nose in the books trying to catch up on class work.
"Sure it's a challenge," Gorgone said. "But I've had a lot of time to catch up in the past few weeks."
Gorgone has been on a sort of mid-season break from her first love snowboarding. Several elite level events have been canceled in recent weeks, leaving her in limbo as she waits for the World Junior Championships in Austria.
Gorgone posted top finishes in Park City, Utah, and Canada the first part of January, and who would blame the 17-year-old snowboarder if she is itching to get back into the competitive scene.
"It was a huge confidence builder for Michelle," Steamboat Springs coach Mike Mallon said. "It was the first parallel giant slalom on the Olympic course and it was huge for her."
Up next for the Winter Sports Club athlete will be a trip to Park City for a World Junior training camp and then the World Junior Championships, which are scheduled for March 9-11 in Nassfeld/ Hermagor, Austria. It will be Gorgone's third trip to the prestigious junior events, and there is no doubt she will be looking to improve on her previous finishes. She fell in her first attempt at World Juniors two years ago; last year she hurt her knee just prior to the event and couldn't compete.
This year, however, the local snowboarder will enter the event with a new sense of confidence. She is coming off a win at the Board Frenzy, a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association-sponsored event, on Jan. 15. In that event, she topped U.S. Snowboard team member Claire Ceters in a two-run parallel giant slalom event.
"Before Michelle came here she had problems putting together two or three solid runs in a row," Mallon said. "But in Park City, she put together nine consistent runs to the finals."
The Steamboat coach said consistency is the key to winning the parallel format and that is the reason for Gorgone's success so far this season.
"I was .08 of a second behind going into the second run," Gorgone said. "I just got in front of her and never looked back.'
The finish was a highlight for the local snowboarder, but she is already setting her sights higher.
She also topped a giant slalom Continental Cup event and was second in a parallel giant slalom event at Mount Saint Anne in Quebec last month.
Gorgone said the dual formats are starting to grow on her and in light of her recent finishes seem to fit her style.
"I like to get out fast and stay in front," Gorgone said. "That way you know that you are going to win."
Last week she skied in Steamboat and posted a fifth-place finish in the dual giant slalom at Howelsen Hill. She also fell in the dual slalom event, which was held under the lights at Howelsen.
"It was a little disappointing," Gorgone said. "I had hoped to do a little better."
Still, the finishes were solid for the local girl when boarders such as Ceters and another U.S. Ski Team member, Lynn Ott, were packed into a very talented women's field at the event.