U.S. freestyle team has a history of winning
February 7, 2010
Steamboat Springs — The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team has a vast history of winning medals at the Olympic Games, more than any nation in fact.
Those wins include Toby Dawson's mogul bronze in Turin, Italy; Shannon Bahrke and Travis Mayer picking up silver medals in moguls in 2002; and Joe Pack getting a silver in aerials at the same games in Salt Lake City.
But the United States hasn't won a gold since a trio of skiers did it in 1998 at the games in Nagano, Japan.
There, Eric Bergoust won gold in the aerials and Nikki Stone and Jonny Moseley won in the moguls.
But this year, maybe more so than in the past two games, the Americans seem poised to win multiple medals.
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The freestyle team features multiple world champions, World Cup winners and a balance where many skiers could be considered favorites.
"Expectations?" freestyle moguls coach Jeff Wintersteen asked. "No expectations. It is the Olympics and my pleasure to be there in my third as a coach. Crazy things happen. The team needs to be prepared to just deliver on their skills."
Sorry coach, the results so far say this should be a big Olympics.
WHO TO WATCH:
Ryan St. Onge
The current world champion is considered the favorite. St. Onge, who trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and graduated from The Lowell Whiteman School in 2001, also won the 2009 U.S. Aerial Championships. All told, he has seven career World Cup wins, five U.S. titles and five Junior Worlds medals. He made the Olympic team in 2006.
Jeret 'Speedy' Peterson
Finished seventh at the 2006 Olympics and ninth in 2002. He's a three-time U.S. aerials champion and has five World Cup wins. After taking a year off, he won a World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., earlier this year. To date, he's the only skier to complete the Hurricane and earned his bid to the Olympics earlier this season at the U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in Steamboat.
Ferguson will be making his first trip to the Olympics. He finished seventh at the 2009 World Championships.
A first-time Olympian, the Hamburg, N.Y., native earned his spot by placing 15th at a World Cup earlier this season. The 22-year-old got his start at the Buffalo Ski Club.
The South Dakota native is the reigning U.S. champion. She qualified for the 2006 Olympics, finishing 16th in aerials.
A veteran of the team, Cook will be making her second Olympic Games after a 19th place finish in 2006. She finished fourth in the World Championships in 2009.
She finished seventh at the World Championships and third at the U.S. Championships. The gymnast was recruited to an aerial camp before the 2002 Olympics and made her first World Cup start in 2005. She earned her bid at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
The 16-year-old is the first skier to come out of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Elite Air Program in Lake Placid, N.Y. The program takes gymnasts and other athletes and trains them in aerials. Caldwell really burst onto the scene with a second-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Kearney won the World Cup overall moguls championship last season and opened the defense of that title by placing third in this winter's first World Cup event and winning the second. She won the U.S. Olympic Trials in Steamboat earlier this season and won the last World Cup in Lake Placid. Kearney is a clear favorite going into the games.
Roark won the most recent moguls national championship last spring but has been a fixture at World Cup events for 15 years. She finished 18th at the last Olympic Games in 2006. Roark finished the season with a third-place finish at a World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah.
A 29-year-old World Cup and Olympic veteran, Bahrke is one of the most experienced skiers on the U.S. Ski Team. Bahrke won the silver medal in moguls at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and finished 10th in the same event at the 2006 Olympics in Italy. She got on the podium twice in World Cups this season, including a second-place finish in Lake Placid.
McPhie clinched her spot on the Olympic team by impressing the World Cup circuit this season. She picked up a win and two second-place finishes during back-to-back days in World Cups in Deer Valley, Utah, before rounding out the season with a third-place finish in Lake Placid.
Deneen won the U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials to earn his berth on the team. The reigning world champion is considered one of the top threats to medal in Vancouver.
At 21 years old, Wilson is one of the youngest skiers on the U.S. team, but he's been the team's hottest competitor recently. He locked up his Olympic spot with two World Cup podiums in Finland earlier this season.
Morse has trained in Steamboat and was second at the 2009 national championships. Battling to the end, he earned his spot at the last World Cup in Lake Placid, registering a fifth-place finish to go along with two other sixth-place finishes.
Roberts joined the World Cup circuit in 2003 and was the 2005 world champion. He returned to competition earlier this month with a third-place finish at a World Cup event in Finland, a place that was good enough to earn him a spot on the team.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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