14 Steamboat skiers qualify for freestyle NorAm

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Fourteen Steamboat Springs skiers are scheduled to compete today when the NorAm Freestyle Tour opens in Park City, Utah.

"This is the biggest NorAm group Steamboat has ever had," said Garth Hager, Steamboat Springs freestyle coach.

Steamboat's Kylie Douglas, Carly Gmeiner, Caterina Mader, Erica Damon, Maryann Skraba, Bekah Angoff and Eliza Outrim all qualified based on their finishes at selection events last week, which also were in Park City.

On the men's side Michael Morse, who narrowly missed getting the nod for a World Cup start, will be joined by Eddie Keiser, Michael Macomber, Jarrett Arguelles, Kyle Ewing, Michael Casale and Scott Voss. Last year Steamboat has seven skiers qualified for the NorAm.

The NorAm field consists of 20 Americans, 20 Canadians and 15 athletes from other countries. The Americans also will get five additional spots for the two events here in the United States.

Hager said he was happy with the number of Steamboat skiers who made the cut but was not totally surprised.

"Making the NorAm cut is kind of a natural progression for these skiers," Hagar said. "I think most of these skiers expected to be here."

The four-event NorAm series continues in February with stops in Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec, and Killington, Vt. The finals will take place at the Apex Resort in British Columbia, Canada, at the end of February.

The announcements of this year's NorAm team came at the end of a series of selection events.

The final event took place Dec. 11 with Eastern Division skier Kathryn Bodzioch winning the women's event and teammate Tim Preston claiming the men's title.

Top Steamboat finishers included Douglas, 10th; Gmeiner, 18th; and Mader, 21st. Damon placed 28th, Skraba was 42nd, Angoff was 41st and Eliza Outrim was 51st.

Lauren Crawford skied earlier in the week but had to pull out of the last event because of a sore back.

Preston topped the men's event with a back flip and d-spin. Steamboat's Morse placed sixth in the event and second in the overall standings, which included another event earlier last week.

Scott Voss placed 12th, Casale was 18th, Keiser was 25th, Arguelles was 44th and Ewing came in 47th.

"This is thrilling as a coach," Hagar said. "It means I'm going to have my hands full, but it also means that we've got a better chance of winning at each event. I think it speaks well for the Winter Sports Club and our program."

--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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