Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Steamboat Springs There were a few skiers letting out cheers of relief Tuesday afternoon and, no doubt, a few shedding tears.
The U.S. Ski Team announced the official list of freestyle skiers who will compete in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.
Included were two mogul skiers that rose through the ranks of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Ann Battelle and Travis Mayer.
The most recognizable local name may have been that of four-time Olympian Ann Battelle, who clinched a spot on the women's team along with California's Shannon Bahrke, New Hampshire's Hannah Hardaway and New York's Jillian Vogtli.
"She is a bundle of nerves," head mogul coach Don St. Pierre said of Battelle. "But, at crunch time, she will be the one to deliver."
This is Battelle's 10th year as a member of the U.S. Ski Team. She is a two-time World Cup Champion, 1999 World Moguls Champion and owner of six national titles.
Also named to the women's team were aerialists Emily Cook of Belmont, Mass., Brenda Petzold of Andover, Mass., and Tracy Evans of Park City.
Donna Weinbrecht was one of several skiers who were close but didn't make the cut. Other skiers included Lowell Whiteman graduate Emiko Torito (who placed second in a World Cup in Steamboat Springs back in December) and Laurel Shanley of Squaw Valley, Calif.
"It's a little bittersweet," St. Pierre said of the announcement. "This is the hardest team in the world to qualify for. The truth is that not everyone on our team that can medal will get the chance at competing in the Olympics it's heartbreaking."
Steamboat's Travis Mayer will be one of seven men who earned a shot at Olympic glory. Mayer won a Gold Cup moguls competition to seal his position on a team full of top skiers.
Mogul skiers Evan Dybvig of Vermont, Jonny Moseley of California and Jeremy Bloom of Loveland will join him. Aerialists will include Nagano gold medalist Eric Bergoust of Montana, along with Brain Currutt and Joe Pack. Currutt and Pack are both from Park City.
"Some of these athletes were obvious selections and then there were incredibly hard choices," said Jeff Wintersteen, head freestyle coach of the U.S. Ski Team. But, Wintersteen said, "This is an Olympic team that offers us a great possibility for continuing the success we've experienced at the Olympics (in the past)."
American freestyle skiers took a gold medal and bronze in 1992 (Donna Weinbrecht and Nelson Carmichael of Steamboat), silver in '94 (Liz McIntyre, moguls) and three of the four golds available in '98 (Bergoust and Nikki Stone, aerials, and Moseley, moguls).
St. Pierre said he feels as if this group of skiers will enjoy similar success in Utah next month. He said the fact that several top skiers didn't make the cut just proves that this is one of the strongest teams going. He said it isn't a reach to think that the skiers will earn top finishes when the Games begin.
Notable men who didn't make the cut include Steamboat mogul skier Ryan Riley and aerialist Parker Schmidt. Travis Ramos, Toby Dawson and Garth Hager also failed to make the final selection.