'Boat to host top freestylers

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The neatly aligned bumps of the Voo Doo mogul course were set last week, and the final preparations to the aerial jumps at the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex were completed Tuesday.

The only thing left needed to host a successful freestyle competition in Steamboat Springs is top-level athletes.

They will begin arriving Friday, as Steamboat gets the freestyle skiing season rolling with a Rocky Mountain Division meet Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It's the third Rocky Mountain Division meet of the season -- the first in Steamboat Springs -- and will happen thanks to the hard work of crews from the Steamboat Ski Area, the coaching staff and athletes from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

"We've been working our tails off to get this going, but it looks like everything is ready," said Erik Skinner, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle program director. "Everybody is very excited about the chance to compete at home."

Friday's aerial event will feature a field of 80 to 90 competitors flying of the kickers of the Park Smalley Freestyle complex.

On Saturday, the action will move to Voo Doo for the junior moguls, and the field will expand to about 140 skiers.

The competition will come to a close on Sunday with championship moguls.

Each day's events are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

Skinner said that despite the lack of early season snow, the mogul course and the jumps are in great shape.

Tim Meagher, who built and designed similar courses for the 2002 Olympic Games and 2004 World Championships in Utah, built the mogul course. Damian Wells took care of setting up the jumps this season.

" Our mogul course is very similar to the one in Deer Valley," Skinner said. "It's a great course to train and compete on."

Skinner also thinks the Steamboat event will draw most of the top skiers in the division, which includes many of the top up-and-coming freestyle skiers in the nation.

This week, the field will include Steamboat's Eddie Keiser, Eliza Outtrim, Carly Gmeiner, Caterina Mader and possibly U.S. Ski Team member Mike Morse, who trained with the Winter Sports Club last season.

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

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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