Mogul events expected to draw record field

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— Warm weather in the Eastern U.S., the upcoming NorAm season and a chance to ski this year's Junior Olympic venues is expected to make this week's Rocky Mountain Division Freestyle meet in Steamboat Springs one of the largest ever.

"The biggest event we've ever hosted here was three years ago," said Erik Skinner, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle program director. "We had 148 skiers for that event, which was held the same year we hosted the Junior Olympic Championships."

Steamboat also will host this year's Junior Olympic Championships (March 7 to 11), but several other factors have boosted interest in this weekend's mogul events at the Steamboat Ski Area.

Skinner said this week's events are the last before the NorAm tour begins, and many of the top skiers who are qualified for the NorAm are looking for one last competition to get ready.

"The skiing should be fabulous," Skinner said. "This will be a great local Rocky Mountain meet."

The lack of snow on the East Coast also has resulted in more skiers registering for this week's events.

The competition will open today with training from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area. The first competition of the week will take place Friday with the first of two single mogul events. The second will take place Saturday. The freestyle meet will come to a close Sunday with a dual mogul event. All of the competitions are scheduled to begin with the first run at 10 a.m. Skinner said the second run is scheduled to begin at about 2:15 p.m.

The event will be the only Rocky Mountain Division freestyle meet of the winter in Steamboat. Previous Rocky Mountain Division competitions were held at Winter Park, Aspen and Durango earlier this year. Skinner said he expects between 40 and 46 Steamboat athletes to compete.

"I haven't looked at the registrations yet, but I would be surprised if we didn't have all of the local athletes competing in this one," Skinner said.

The Winter Sports Club also is expected to host a junior development competition for skiers younger than 12 on Feb. 17.

The Junior Olympic Championships will draw skiers from around the country for mogul, halfpipe, slopestyle and aerial events in March.

- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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