Singing the snow falling blues

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— Following a lackluster showing by his men's team at last week's NorAm event in Killington, freestyle coach Eric Skinner came back to Steamboat Springs knowing he has to motivate his skiers.

"What these guys need right now is a few days in Hawaii," Skinner said. "I think we have a bad case of the snow falling blues."

While it's doubtful that the coach will be booking airline tickets for Honolulu anytime soon, he may get a spark this week when the World Cup stops in Steamboat -- four local skiers will be forerunners, including Chris Pusey, Jordan Chiovarelli, Carly Gmeiner and Eliza Outtrim.

Skinner said the rest of his ability skiers will be spending a lot of time watching friends like Travis Mayer, Mike Friedberg and Toby Dawson tear up the slopes of Voo Doo during the Sprint Grand Nationals.

"I hope that those guys will motivate my guys," Skinner said. "Then after a short break, maybe they will come back with a little more energy."

Skinner said Gmeiner highlighted the local results at the last NorAm event in Killington Jan. 30.

She placed fifth in the women's singles and should have placed higher, her coach said.

"I think she skied a lot better than some of the other girls, but she just didn't get the scores," Skinner said. "It's a judged sport -- and sometimes that happens."

American Hannah Kearney won the girls title. Canada's Jennifer Simm was second and Rocky Mountain Division skier Katherine Lynch was third. Outtrim finished in 22nd.

Michael Morse of the Eastern Division won the men's event. The top Steamboat finishers were Chiovarelli in ninth and Pusey in 12th.

The finishes were not bad, but Skinner felt as if both of his skiers could have reached a higher level during the competition.

"Sometimes I think I believe more in these guys than they believe in themselves," Skinner said.

Chiovarelli rebounded in the men's dual event on Jan. 31, placing third. He topped Eastern Division skier Christopher Horton in his final run to move into the third-place slot. Far West skier Holt Haga topped Nathan Roberts, of the Intermountain Division, in the finals to win the event.

Lynch won the women's duals by beating Jenny Haywood in the finals. Lauren Crawford, Outtrim and Gmeiner all went out in the second round of competition.

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