Back home again

Local freestyler happy to be competing in Steamboat

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— Lauren Crawford gets to sleep tonight in her own bed.

"I always like being home," Crawford said after mogul training on Tuesday. "I love coming home to Strawberry Park because it's so laid back and I don't have to live out of a suitcase."

Since she was named to the U.S. Freestyle team last fall, Crawford has gotten used to living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time.

She has logged enough miles on United Airlines to be promoted to a Premiere Club member, which means she gets to wait in a special line to board the plane.

"I've definitely been on the road a lot this year," Crawford said.

Between World Cup and NorAms, Crawford has been to Canada twice, Killington and Lake Placid in the past couple of months. She admits that life on the road has been frustrating at times this winter. But she has learned a lot about skiing at the World Cup level.

"Sometimes you think that you have to do something special," Crawford said. "But what you really need to do is just lay down a solid run."

Crawford has also learned that the World Cup isn't always glamorous. A couple of weeks ago, she was greeted by temperatures of minus-35 degrees during a World Cup in Lake Placid. She might have been able to shake off the cold if her trip hadn't ended in a spectacular crash.

"Most of the stops (both NorAm and World Cup) have been cold and miserable," Crawford said. "I'm so glad to be back in Steamboat this week -- it's always nice to get back home."

Crawford said she always misses the everyday advantages -- family, friends and a comfortable bed -- when she is on the road. But the thing she misses the most is the opportunity to train on the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area.

"You just get a lot more done when you are training on your own home hill," Crawford said. "You're not worried about trying to learn a new course, so you can focus more on the technical side of skiing."

The World Cup rookie is hoping warmer weather and the comfort of home will boost her to new heights at the Freestyle World Cup this weekend at the Sprint Grand Nationals.

"This is my third World Cup," Crawford said. "But this is my first here in Steamboat. I feel a lot more comfortable. I haven't trained here since last fall, but I know this course and I know what to expect."

Crawford is not alone. Several skiers will be enjoying the comfort that comes from being at home this week during the World Cup event.

Crawford and fellow local Travis Mayer still live here. The list of local favorites also includes Mike Friedberg and Emiko Torito, who used to train here with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Toby Dawson moved to Steamboat this year so he could train at the Park Smalley Complex when he wasn't on tour.

Training for the World Cup event will continue today and Thursday. The aerial event will kick off the week at 9:20 a.m. Friday. The finals will take place at 1:15 p.m.

The mogul skiers will get their shots on Saturday with the qualifying round at 10 a.m. The finals are slated for 1:20 p.m.

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