High flyin'

Gmeiner soars to 1st in upright championship event

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— A relaxed Gina Gmeiner danced playfully to music blaring from a pair of temporary event speakers at the bottom of the aerial hill a few minutes before the start of Wednesday's Rocky Mountain Division's upright championships.

If she was afraid, her emotions were well hidden behind the large smile on her face as she clapped her hands and yelled compliments to her teammates who were still completing training on the jump hills.

A few minutes later, she went to the top of the hill and laid out two nice airs to win the event.

"It was sweet," Gmeiner said of the win.

It was sweet because two years ago the local skier had taken a fall while competing in the upright aerial event. The fear, she said, affected her performances last year but not anymore.

"I conquered my fear today," she said. "I wasn't terrified before my jump."

She also conquered her foes in the women's aerial competition.

She scored 105.86 points to top the women's field. Kristin Walla of Aspen followed in second place and Steamboat's Maryann Skraba was third.

"We have a really friendly competition, and we are really good friends," Skraba said of Gmeiner after the event. "I was happy with my jump, but I wish we would have had the jumps longer, so that we could have trained more."

The aerial event was the first event of the Rocky Mountain Division's Regional Champion-ships, which will take place in Steamboat Springs this week.

There was also a halfpipe event on Wednesday night, and there will be mogul events today, Friday and Saturday. Both Gmeiner and Skraba will compete on the mogul course as well.

"It was a good start," Gmeiner said. "I think this will pump me up for the rest of the week."

Kyle Scoby of the University of Colorado freestyle team took top honors in the men's aerial event Wednesday.

He scored 124.81 points after completing five twisters on his first attempt. Scoby then followed it up with a double daffy double twister spread on his second air of the event.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers took second, third and fourth places in the event.

Broc Sheue led the charge in second with 121.99 points, Jarrett Arguelles was third with 121.77 and Tommy Halvorson was fourth with 121.20 points.

Other top local finishers included David Schwanke in seventh, Charlie MacArthur in ninth, Nick Bucci in 12th and Dustin Surprenant in 13th.

Bart Robinson was 20th, Daniel Jenson was 28th and Luke Belz finished 32nd.

"This was my first time competing uprights this year and I just wanted to go out and have some fun," Schwanke said after the event.

Schwanke, however, said he wasn't all that happy with his jumping after the event. He had hoped to go bigger off the jump on his second attempt. But it didn't happen.

Most of the aerialists will compete in today's junior mogul event or Friday's championship moguls. Both of those events are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex.

There will also be a duals mogul event on Saturday, which will wrap up the regional championships here in Steamboat.

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