U.S. Freestyle Selections moved from Steamboat for lack of snow

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— The U.S. Freestyle Selections event scheduled for mid-December in Steamboat Springs has been moved to Copper Mountain because of a lack of snow.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Freestyle Director Erik Skinner said the decision was made this week after looking at current snow conditions and the extended weather forecast.

Skinner said Monday was the snow control date when they had to determine whether Steamboat would have cold enough temperatures or snow in the forecast to put together an adequate course.

Skinner, along with Steamboat Ski Area officials and race coordinators, decided the 10-day forecast wasn’t promising enough.

“It’s a bummer. It’s definitely a bummer,” Skinner said. “Mother Nature is not cooperating. It doesn’t want to turn to winter.”

Temperatures haven’t been low enough to blow enough snow to build a moguls course at Howelsen Hill for athletes to train on. The event itself takes place on Mount Werner, where officials determined there was little probability of having a full course ready for the Dec. 17 to 22 event.

The Freestyle Selections feature two days of training, two days of single moguls events and a dual moguls event.

Steamboat skiers have had a tremendous amount of success at the selections event in the past. The event gives skiers the opportunity to qualify for a pair of U.S. World Cup events in Deer Valley, Utah, and Lake Placid, N.Y.

U.S. Freestyle Ski Team members Jeremy Cota, Ryan Dyer and Brittany Loweree all earned World Cup starts from their performances at previous selections events.

With the lack of snow on which to train, Skinner said he has seven local athletes leaving for Apex Mountain Resort in British Columbia, Canada.

“It’s extremely important to get on snow skiing and in and out of jumps,” Skinner said. “Being able to get on a full course is huge.”

He said Apex is scheduled to start building its course Saturday.

Skinner said the last year he can remember that was like this was 1989, when he still was competing as an athlete. The good news, he said, was that year didn’t follow early season patterns.

“I remember it starting out like this,” he said. “It finished out great. January we got dumped on and had a good year.”

The Winter Sports Club freestyle moguls team is scheduled to have an opening event Dec. 15 in Winter Park, but that competition also is up in the air because of a lack of snow.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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