As disappointing as the season started for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club mogul skier Jeremy Cota, it couldn't have ended much better.
Cota, 20, wrapped up the NorAm Grand Prix during the weekend in Calgary, Alberta, earning a spot on the U.S. freestyle team. He finished first in the NorAm dual moguls and third in the single moguls. The Grand Prix is a combination of singles and doubles.
"A lot of it, I think, was I had better focus this year," said Cota, who moved to Steamboat Springs this year from Maine to train with the Winter Sports Club. "I got great coaching. The coaches here really helped me out. I've always had a lot of determination, but the coaches here helped me focus it on the right thing."
Cota was close to making the U.S. team in the first selections event of the year. But on one of his final runs, he had a slip and just missed out on his chance.
Still, Cota said coming so close just prepped him for the rest of his season.
"The selections event was definitely a disappointment for me," he said. "But all you can do is think how well I did ski there. That's what I had to carry into the NorAms. I try not to focus on particular events; I just focus on my skiing."
Winter Sports Club Freestyle Ski Director Erik Skinner said Cota always had the ability, he just had to refine his skills.
Skinner said the coaches worked on getting him to ski out of his tricks.
"He turned the corner," Skinner said. "He did a couple things in his skiing that allowed him to ski out of these tricks."
Rob Burden and Brittany Loweree also attended the NorAm finals in Calgary. Although both skied well, each just missed making the finals.
"Every competition they ski in they're getting better whether they know it or not," said Rob Day, head NorAm freestyle coach for the Winter Sports Club.
Cota and the rest of the freestyle team will head to Telluride this weekend for divisional championships, the last chance to get qualifying points for nationals. The team will then go to Waterville Valley, N.H., March 10 for Junior Olympics before wrapping things up at the end of March with national championships.
Cota's win also qualified him for the March 18 World Cup Finals in France. There, he'll be among the top 25 skiers in the world.
"The long-term goal is to hopefully make some bigger events and continue to ski well enough to move up the ladder," Cota said. "Obviously, the ultimate goal is to make the Olympic team. All I can do now is ski my best and see where that takes me."
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