Freestylers get ready to compete


— The voice of 20-year-old Carly Gmeiner was laced with anticipation as she talked on the phone about skiing in the Chevy Truck U.S. Freestyle Championships.

"Oh I'm really excited about it," Gmeiner said. "The U.S. coaches will be there and this is our chance to show them what we can do."

Three Steamboat Springs freestyle skiers earned their shot at the championships by placing at the top of a special qualifying event, which was held last Wednesday.

The events took place at the Bogus Basin Ski Area, which is located near Boise, Idaho. It is the same place the U.S. Championships will take place next week.

Carly and Gina Gmeiner both earned spots in the championships with top-15 finishes at a special qualifying event.

Carly Gmeiner was sixth in the women's singles and sister Gina placed ninth in the field.

"I though my first run was kind of slow, but I was ninth so I felt pretty good with where I was standing headed into the second run," Carly Gmeiner said. "I was a little nervous. But I've had a good really good year, so I had a lot of confidence going into the event."

Steamboat's Mary Ann Skraba will also get a chance to ski in the championships.

She placed 16th, just out of the qualifying cut, but two of the skiers ahead of her in the standings will not ski at the U.S. Championships giving her the final spot.

"I was 13th after my first run, but then I got bumped back," Skraba said.

After her second run, she didn't want to sit around nervously waiting to find out the results, so she headed down the hill with her teammates.

"A coach called me at 5 p.m. and asked me if I wanted to know if I had made it," Skraba said. "I told him I wasn't sure."

But the news was good and the coach informed the Steamboat skier that she had, in fact, made the cut.

"I think this is going to be a really good experience," Skraba said of skiing in her first nationals.

"I'm very happy to be getting a chance."

The news was also good for Gina Gmeiner, who will be headed to her third national championships. For Gina Gmeiner, the national event is to show herself and the coaches how far she has come this season.

Gina Gmeiner plans to take the same attitude into next week's championships.

"I'm going to ski as hard as I can. If I give it all my effort and ski a good run well that's all I can really ask for," Gina Gmeiner said.

Jill Norman of Winter Park won the qualifier. The events continue today with men's moguls. No Steamboat Springs skiers made the cut at the qualifier. However, several, including Chris Pusey and Jordan Chiovarelli, have already earned spots at the nationals.

This week's qualifiers will wrap up with an aerial event Friday and a dual mogul event is slated for Saturday.

The qualifiers are being held in advance of the National Championships, which will begin on Tuesday when the U.S. Team is scheduled to arrive at the Double Tree Hotel in Boise.

The mogul and aerial skiers will train Wednesday and Thursday with the first competition, the dual mogul event, taking place March 22.

The aerial event will take place March 23 and the single mogul event is slated for March 24.


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