The U.S. Ski Team Selection Events often can make or break a freestyle skier's season.
Last week, eight skiers from Steamboat Springs traveled to Park City, Utah, knowing that how they skied would determine the path they will follow for the next several months.
"There's a lot of pressure," freestyle program director Eric Skinner said. "Most of the athletes push too hard and get into too many mind games. But it's hard because the selection events often lay out their whole season. The ones that perform well go on to NorAms, and the ones that don't go back to the drawing board."
The mogul competitions took place Dec. 8 to 12 on the Prospector ski run at Park City Resort.
The 230-meter course featured a 25-degree pitch filled with large moguls designed to trip up skiers on the road to NorAm competition.
If that wasn't enough, on the opening day, skiers and judges had to deal with a blizzard that left more than a foot of heavy, wet snow in the area.
Heather McPhie of Breckenridge won the women's event with a heli-x on the top air and a back flip cross on the bottom air. McKenzy Golding of Squaw Valley took second, and U.S. Ski Team member Shelly Robertson took third.
Top Steamboat finishers included Carly Gmeiner in ninth, Caterina Mader in 19th and Kylie Douglas in 20th. Bekah Angoff was 33rd, and Eliza Outtrim placed 45th.
Steamboat coach Garth Hager said the field included many top-level skiers from Canada and Japan who were preparing for the NorAm events, which begin today in Park City.
Jordan Chiovarelli, a former member of the Winter Sports Club, won the men's event by nailing a back flip cross on the top air and a D-spin 720 on the bottom air.
U.S. Ski Team member Michael Morse, another former Winter Sports Club member, was second, and Park City's Landon Gardner was third.
Current Winter Sports Club skier Eddie Keiser was 17th. Kyle Ewing, who was slowed by the flu, placed 58th, and Chris Gebhardt was 62nd.
Robertson topped the women's field on the second day of moguls Saturday, followed by U.S. Ski team member Katy Bodzioch in second and Golding in third.
Steamboat's Mader posted an impressive fifth-place finish to lead the Winter Sports Club results.
"Caterina was phenomenal," Skinner said. "She was so excited to try her new trick (a back flip cross), and she nailed it."
Gmeiner was 11th, Outtrim was 20th, Douglas was 32nd, and Angoff was 37th.
Gardner won the men's event, followed by Tim Massucco of Park City and Japan's Singo Kusunoki.
Hager said the Steamboat skiers performed well but had a few problems landing their jumps cleanly.
Morse finished 33rd, Ewing was 35th, Gebhardt was 40th, and Keiser came in 44th.
Steamboat also showed well in the dual mogul event Sunday.
Mader finished second to U.S. Ski Team member Ali Levy of Vail.
Gmeiner finished fifth, Outtrim was ninth, and Douglas placed 17th.
Gardner topped the men's standings by beating out Ron Digravio of Carabassett Valley Academy. Steamboat's Keiser was fifth, and Gebhardt was 17th
Seven Steamboat skiers qualified to compete in the single or dual moguls at this week's NorAm events in Park City.