Selection events provide stage for rising stars

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Mogul skier Eliza Outtrim wouldn't let a disappointing performance at the U.S. Ski Team Selection event last Friday ruin her week.

A costly mistake on the top air of her second run dropped the Steamboat skier to 13th in the final results of the first event in Winter Park. However, the 20-year-old member of U.S. Freestyle Team found redemption during Sunday's event.

"I was upset at first," Outtrim said. "But I also knew that I could win it, and I was confident that I could lay down two good runs."

Outtrim made the most of her second opportunity by nailing both runs and scoring 23.66 points, enough to slip past Canadian Jackie Brown for the win. Steamboat's Caterina Mader was fifth, and Kylie Douglas was eighth. Other Steam----boat finishers included Carly Gmeiner in 40th, Jenny Lee in 55th and Alyssa Roche in 57th.

The results were a dramatic improvement for most of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club women who attended the events.

On Friday, Outtrim was 13th, Mader was 16th and Douglas placed 29th.

For Outtrim, the slow start to her season might have hurt her chance of landing a World Cup start this season. Outtrim already has a spot on the NorAm tour but hoped that two days of consistent results would allow her to move up. Her finish Friday didn't help.

"It's unfortunate, because she is skiing so well," Steamboat coach Timmy Meagher said. "But the selection events are a one-shot deal, and you have to have solid runs in both starts. In this case, it really cost Eliza."

As an alternate, Outtrim still might get a shot at a World Cup start, but Meagher said that would be a long shot.

"Somebody would have to get hurt, or she might get a start based on coaches discretion," he said.

But Outtrim doesn't want to dwell on what might have been, and she plans to make the most of her season.

"I'm really happy that I could finish with a win," Outtrim said. "I'm trying to stay positive about the weekend and move on."

Outtrim will travel to Park City, Utah, this weekend for the season-opening NorAm Cup events. She wants to win, of course, but said she'd be happy with a podium finish.

"It's going to be the same field, pretty much," Outtrim said. "If I can ski consistently, then I will have a shot at winning."

Michael Morse led the Winter Sports Club's men at the selection events with second place finishes in Friday's and Sunday's events. His finishes will earn him a spot at two North American World Cup events scheduled for Deer Valley, Utah, and Lake Placid, N.Y., in January.

Morse finished second to Maine skier David Digravio in Friday's event. Other Steamboat skiers included Christopher Gebhardt in 11th, Eddie Keiser in 19th, Michael Mead in 40th and Bo Randolph in 43rd.

On Sunday, Morse was second to Sweden's Hendrick Windstedt. Eddie Keiser was 10th, Gebhardt was 19th and Abraham Maynard was 26th.

The early-season selection events are used to qualify skiers for midseason selection to the U.S. Ski Team's 'C' team and also to select skiers for remaining World Cup spots for events in North America.

Many of the top skiers at the selection events, including Outtrim and Mead, also will compete in the U.S. Ski Team Olympic Team Trials, which will be held in Steamboat on Dec. 30.

"Considering how much time our team was on snow training for moguls, I'm very pleased with the results from selection events," Meagher said. "Most of the early-season skiing we got was in powder."

-- To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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