Roberts, Perricone make elite team

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Alpine ski racer Drew Roberts opened the ski season with a well-defined goal: He wanted to elevate his performances to the next level.

After placing second in an FIS Rocky Mountain Trophy Series slalom race in Steamboat Springs in December and winning his first NorAm in Sunday River, Maine, less than a month later, it seemed that Roberts, one of the top skiers in the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, was on track.

The skier got some more good news in late January when he learned he has been named to the 2005 USA Junior World Championship team, which will compete Feb. 20 to 26 in Bardonecchia, Italy.

Lisa Perricone, another Winter Sports Club racer, received the same honor, making the two 19-year-olds the only racers from Colorado on the junior team.

"It's just a huge honor to get named to this team," Winter Sports Club Alpine Director Chris Puckett said. "The (racers) on the U.S. Team have automatic berths, so if you're not one of those national team (racers), it's very difficult to make this team. (Drew and Lisa) did it."

Perricone's season has been highlighted by four podium finishes in FIS races since the new year. She has taken second in slalom, super G and giant slalom races. Tom Davis, ability class coach with the Winter Sports Club, said Perricone had her eyes set on racing in the Junior World Championships.

"She just found out last week," Davis said. "I remember riding a chairlift with her at Copper Mountain during a mini-camp in October, and she said she was going. Both of those kids are blessed with a natural talent that goes with their hard work ethic. They are getting the most out of what they were given."

The impressive seasons put together by Roberts and Perricone earned them the opportunity to compete against the world's best juniors in Italy later this month. The pair of Steamboat skiers will be competing on the 2006 Olympic courses.

Puckett thinks Roberts will earn a spot on the National team by the spring. However, if Roberts can pick up another top finish -- either in a NorAm, Europa Cup or National Championship event -- before the season ends, he could earn a spot even earlier.

The FIS Alpine World Junior Championships are the highest-level international races for junior skiers, who are all younger than 21. They will compete for downhill, super G, giant slalom, slalom and combined titles.

Roberts is in Europe competing with the U.S. Ski Team's development team. It's a group that Roberts has trained with, unofficially, since last summer. Perricone is in British Columbia, Canada, preparing for an upcoming race.

-- Pilot & Today writer Melinda Mawdsley

contributed to this story.

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