Monday, February 20, 2006
Practice makes perfect.
At least that's what The Lowell Whiteman School graduate Ryan St. Onge was saying to himself after failing to make the finals of the Olympic men's aerial event Monday night in Sauze d'Oulx, Italy.
St. Onge pulled his feet on the landing of his first jump in qualifying, dropping him out of the qualifying race. But the skier, who was a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, didn't let that wreck his Olympic experience.
"I can see every week at the events where I do well, and at the events where I don't do well, things that I need to improve," St. Onge said. "For sure, over the next four years when I compete, I am going to be practicing, working on every one of those things."
St. Onge scored just 97.35 points for his first jump, a full-double-full-full. But he rebounded on his second jump, bringing a large group of American fans to life. He nailed a double-full-full-full to net 110.40 points, but it was not enough to get him to the finals.
The effort moved him into eighth place with 207.75 points, but there were too many good jumpers left at the top of the hill. St. Onge was bumped to 16th place, one spot in front of teammate Eric Bergoust in the final results. The top 12 jumpers will compete in the finals Thursday night.
"I had known from my first jump that it was very unlikely that I was going to make it into the finals," St. Onge said. "At that point, all the negative things, the bad feelings, all the disappointment disappeared."
St. Onge said the biggest thing he will take away from his experience at the 2006 Turin Olympic Games, besides a drive to reach Vancouver in 2010, is the fun of the event.
"My second jump, I was just having fun and enjoying it, having a great time at the Olympic Games," St. Onge said. "I was looking forward to throwing a big jump, and I'm happy with it."
Overall, it was a tough evening for most of the aerialists on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, which had come into the event with hopes of qualifying all four jumpers. By the end of the night, the team settled for one out of four.
"We just made some small mistakes, and it is disappointing, very disappointing," U.S. Ski Team coach Jeff Wintersteen said. "But I'm psyched for Speedy (Jeret Peterson), and we still have a shot to win this thing. But I would have liked to have other guys in there -- we should have had them all in there."
Peterson, the only American to make the finals, finished in eighth place with 227.21 points. He is expected to throw the Hurricane, a full-triple-full-full (a full twist on the first flip, three twists on the second flip and a full twists on the third and fourth flips) in the finals.
"That will be the biggest jump you will see in the finals," St. Onge said. "It should be fun to watch."
The top qualifier is Xiaopeng Han, of China, who totaled 250.45 points on his two jumps. Dmitri Dashinski, of Belarus, finished second with 249.34 points, and Canadian Warren Shouldice was third with 243.45.