Steamboat Springs Former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier Ryan St. Onge came from behind Thursday to win the men's aerials at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships with a stunning second jump to edge Scotty Bahrke.
Emily Cook led both women's rounds to win her third U.S. title.
Bahrke, a Tahoe City, Calif., native, soared into the first-jump lead against St. Onge. But St. Onge, a three-time champ, came roaring back with the big jump of the day to take his fourth title and first since 2005. Waterville Valley, N.H., skier Matt DePeters took bronze for his first U.S. Championships podium.
St. Onge won with a score of 196.51, to 194.22 for Bahrke. DePeters finished with a personal best 175.49.
Cook, meanwhile, was solid on both jumps to hold off a challenge from FIS World Cup Rookie of the Year Allison Treleaven of Ft. Wayne, Ind., to take gold. Olympian Jana Lindsey, also a former member of the SSWSC, was third.
Cook scored 175.53 to 151.10 for Treleaven. Lindsey came in at 143.65.
The weather forced officials to limit jumps to double flips - no triples. That took away some of the edge St. Onge anticipated going in.
"I knew at the beginning of the day it was going to be a challenge to beat those guys," St. Onge said. "Dylan Ferguson and Scotty Bahrke both have really good triple twisting doubles. I knew since it was going to be a limited DD (degree of difficulty) event that they were going to be on an even playing field with me, and I was going to have to work hard to do it."
St. Onge was down by nearly two points after the first jump, a full-double full, or triple twisting double back flip. On his second jump, he hit a near-perfect double full-full to take the lead.
"Being second after the first round confirmed I had to get my stuff together and try and squeak it out. I had a really nice second jump, and even though Bahrke also had a great second jump, I squeaked him out."
Gmeiner grabs second at halfpipe nationals
The best performance of her season was all mental, Steamboat skier Gina Gmeiner said Friday, hours after finishing second in the U.S. Freestyle Nationals halfpipe event.
Gmeiner didn't approach her two runs with any extra focus. Instead, realizing competitors would be selected for finals based off just one run instead of two, as they had been all season, she made darn sure her one run counted.
"I wouldn't say what I laid down was conservative," she said. "I just wanted something that would ensure my place in finals."
She got her wish. Gmeiner said she left her most difficult tricks on the shelf, made finals and cruised to the podium.
Five competitors had a good chance going in, she said, but two bit it and failed to make the cut.
"I always look at it as just as being smart, watching the competition, seeing what others are doing during training and just being visually attentive," she said. "I tried stepping it up every run. It's not to hard for me to stay focused, stay calm and just go out and do what I have to do."
The event marked Gmeiner's return to nationals after a four-year absence. She won the halfpipe event at the previous event, but said finishing second Friday carried more weight.
"Years and years ago, before the competition was anything, I got first," she said. "Now, all three of us were in competition at X Games. It was s legit contest with quality skiing throughout, so that was really cool to see."