Steamboat Springs The gray sky that greeted the aerialists on the third day of the Chevy Trucks Junior Olympic Freestyle Championships didn't prevent the nation's best young skiers from shining on the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area.
Junior skier Christina Craddock combined a back-full-full and a back-lay-full to net 135.77 points en route to pocketing the Junior Olympic and women's national title Friday at the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex.
Sharlee Strebel placed second with a score of 126.42 and Rachael Pack was third with 100.62 points.
Steamboat's Caterina Mader led the local girls in fourth place. Her teammates Jenny Rose Lee and Patty Hanley came in seventh and 21st, respectively.
"I felt pretty good about my jumps," Mader said. "I went really big both times, which is really nice."
Mader was the only skier in the top four who didn't perform inverted tricks on her efforts. Mader said she prefers to ski moguls and uses the aerial event as a way to develop her air tricks for the bumps.
"I like to compete in moguls," the 13-year-old skier said. "So I just do the aerials for fun."
Wes Preston netted 177.54 points to win the men's event and earn a national title. However, Bryan McCormack was the top junior skier in seventh place overall. Fan-favorite Scott Bahrke was second in the junior class and eighth overall, while Tucker Volk came in third for the juniors and ninth overall.
Top local finishers included senior skier Parker Schmidt who came in second overall at 176.33 and Charlie McArthur in 25th.
"It was a little bit hard in training, but everything came out OK," McArthur said. "I took some pretty good crashes in training, which may have made me a little cautious in the competition. But I still did my off-axis 700 on my first jump and I landed it. That was my best jump of the day ... I was going to do another one of a different variety on my second jump, but I decided to save it for the big air."
Schmidt used Friday's event as a training exercise and a chance to compete in his hometown.
"There wasn't anything at stake for me today," Schmidt said. "I just wanted to get a good score and have some fun."
The Junior Olympics will continue today at the Steamboat Ski Area's terrain park with the big air event. The event will begin at 10 a.m.