Mayer wins U.S. Freestyle National Championship

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— Sunday was a big day for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in Missoula, Mont.

Big because three skiers with ties to the club, including winner Travis Mayer, filled the podium of the men's dual mogul event at the Chevy Trucks U.S. Freestyle Championships.

The first-place finish capped off a solid week for the Steamboat skiing legend and brought the national championships to a close.

Mayer also placed third in the singles event, which was held Friday. Luke Westerlund of Breckenridge won that competition and was followed by Lake Tahoe, Calif. skier Travis Cabral.

"It was a great showing for the club," freestyle director Erik Skinner said. "It's nice to see our guys at the top."

Mayer raced past Toby Dawson in a tight final to collect his first dual title. Dawson is from Vail, but joined the Winter Sports Club this winter in order to train on the Voodoo race course and stay close to U.S. Ski Team coaches.

"Travis doesn't normally ski the duals," Steamboat coach Erik Skinner said. "There are maybe four or five a year on the World Cup, so he focuses on the singles."

Mike Frieberg, who is also an alumnus of the club, placed third in the duals after beating Tim Preston in the consolation finals.

Other notable finishes included Steamboat's Chris Pusey, who came in seventh, and Scott Vos who was ninth.

Olympic silver-medalist Shannon Bahrke won the women's dual on Sunday. Hannah Kearney was second and Jillian Vogtli placed third.

Steamboat's Emiko Torito was sixth and Lauren Crawford and Maryann Skraba both tied for 17th

"Our skiers struggled on the competition days," moguls coach Garth Hager said. "The flat course with small moguls became too fast for our direct

style."

The national event wrapped up a long season, and a long run, for many Steamboat skiers.

Athletes like Skraba and Erica Damon both had to earn places at the nationals with top showings at a qualifying event just a few days before the events in Missoula started.

Those qualifiers were held in Alpine Meadows, Calif. March 15-16.

Skraba punched her ticket to the championships with an eighth in the singles and by winning the dual event at those qualifiers. Damon was ninth in the singles.

Vos and Eddie Keiser also had to qualify on the men's side. Keiser placed fifth at Alpine Meadows and Vos was seventh in the singles.

Vos also posted a ninth-place result in the duals.

"The nationals are not what they used to be," Skinner said. "But it's a chance for these skiers to go out and have one last hurrah at the end of the season ... hopefully it will inspire a few of them to work hard this summer and come back strong for next year's selection events."

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