Steamboat Springs When the 2010 Olympic Snowboarding Team was announced Monday evening, Steamboat Springs snowboarder Maddy Schaffrick’s name was not on the list.
Despite a great effort in the halfpipe and some top finishes on the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, including a fourth in the final event last weekend in Park City, Utah, the Steamboat rider fell just short of her goal of making it to the Olympics. However, she thinks the lessons she learned, and the experience she gained, will pay off four years from now when the next Olympic team is picked.
“I was a little nervous while I was waiting to drop into the pipe for my last event,” Schaffrick said. “But then my dad told me to think of this as my victory lap.”
He reminded his daughter that she has accomplished everything she could have hoped to do during the five-event U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix. The truth was that making the Olympic team was a long shot from the start for the 15-year-old Schaffrick.
As expected, Olympic veterans Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter and Elena Hight secured the four spots and will compete next month in Vancouver, British Columbia. Several top prospects, including Schaffrick, will have to wait for their turn in 2014. Clark is a 2002 and 2006 Olympian. The other three women on this year’s team also competed in Italy in 2006.
“It was a lot of fun riding at that level,” Schaffrick said. “After competing with those girls, I realized that I can do it. I can ride with these girls, and I can make it to the Olympics.”
But there was no time for Schaffrick to be disappointed. On Tuesday, she was in Aspen preparing for this week’s Winter X Games. Qualifying is scheduled for Thursday, and the finals will take place Saturday.
Tyler Jewell and Michelle Gorgone make US Team
Alpine snowboarder Tyler Jewell will get his second shot at Olympic glory in February after being named to the 2010 Olympic roster Monday evening by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
“It feels great,” Jewell said Tuesday. “This is everything I’ve been working towards. This was a strong group, and it could have been any one of us. I just feel fortunate to have qualified and to have gotten another chance at the Olympics.”
Jewell, who trained in Steamboat Springs leading up to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, will be one of two men on the U.S. Olympic Team’s Alpine Snowboard roster. Jewell came out on top of the Olympic team selection process and finished fourth in a World Cup event in Kreischberg, Austria, this month.
“You can’t get to the Olympics on your own,” Jewell said. “So many people have helped me, including (Mike and Marne) Roberts in Steamboat, my family and my teammates and the whole Steamboat community.”
He will join 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug, who notched two top-eight finishes on the World Cup this season to earn the right to represent the United States at the Olympics. Klug won the bronze medal in 2002, just 19 months after a liver transplant. He didn’t make the team in 2006 and was involved in a legal battle with the USSA about technicalities in the Olympic qualifying system and whether the spot should go to Jewell. Jewell came out on top of the legal battle and went on to finish 11th at the 2006 Olympics snowboarding event, which was held in Bardonecchia, Italy.
Jewell said Tuesday that the events are in the past, and he has moved on to other things. His focus will be on the Olympic race and improving on his 2006 finish.
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club also will be represented on the women’s Alpine side after Michelle Gorgone, who graduated from The Lowell Whiteman School in 2001, earned her second trip to the Olympics.
In women’s snowboard cross, Alaska’s Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, who trained with Winter Sports Club coach Thedo Remmelink and the Winter Sports Club before being named to the U.S. Snowboarding Team, will represent the United States. Remmelink said he continues to stay in close contact with the Alaskan rider. She takes part in many of his spring and fall camps.
Other riders with ties to the Winter Sports Club headed to Vancouver include Canadian riders Kimiko Zakreski and Caroline Calve; both will ride for Canada. Both of those riders trained in Steamboat Springs for several years. Two-time Olympian Johanna Shaw will represent Australia, and Adam McLeish will ride for Great Britain.
US Olympic Freestyle Team named Tuesday
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association announced its Olympic Freestyle Team on Tuesday.
Four world champions and an Olympic medalist highlighted the 18 selections.
The women’s moguls team comprises 2009 World Cup champion Hannah Kearney, Olympic sliver medalist Shannon Bahrke, Heather McPhie and Denver’s Michelle Roark.
World champion Pat Deneen was named to the men’s team, as were Bryon Wilson and Nate Roberts. Mike Morse, who trains and lives in Steamboat, also was named to the team. All four men will make their first Olympic appearance.
Jeret “Speedy” Peterson and Lowell Whiteman graduate Ryan St. Onge made the men’s aerial team, joining first-time Olympians Dylan Ferguson and Matt DePeters.
Lacy Schnoor, Jana Lindsey, Emily Cook and 16-year-old Ashley Caldwell rounded out the women’s aerial team. Lindsey is a former Winter Sports Club member.
Casey Puckett and Daron Rahlves will represent America in ski cross, which will make its debut in Olympic competition.
Pilot & Today reporter Luke Graham contributed to this story.