Men’s moguls team prepares for medal event today at Olympics
February 14, 2010
CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Olympic inexperience dots the U.S. men's moguls team, but expectations are splattered across the four-man team whose members are making their virgin trip to the sports summit.
True, Pat Deneen, Bryon Wilson, Nate Roberts and Mike Morse never have experienced the Olympics.
"But I definitely have expectations," said Morse, who is from Massachusetts but has lived and trained in Steamboat for several years. "I'm going there to ski my best. I feel like if I ski my best, I can do well. I'm going to try and bring home a medal."
Australia's Dale Begg-Smith is ranked No. 1 in the world and is the defending champion from the 2006 games in Turin, Italy.
The men's freestyle event is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today (Mountain Standard Time) with qualification runs. The finals start at 6:30 p.m.
Deneen might be the best hope to catch Begg-Smith. The Cle Elum, Wash., native recently joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club to work with technical guru Timmy Meagher.
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Deneen is the reigning world champion and has been able to focus on the finer points of his skiing for the past two months after assuring himself a spot on the team by winning the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in December in Steamboat.
"There's no weird strategies, so you just want to be consistent," Deneen said. "At the Olympic Games, it's a one-shot deal. I have to give it everything I've got to get the win."
Roberts, a 2005 world champion, and Wilson struggled down the World Cup stretch. But each has shown in the past the ability to perform on the biggest stage. Wilson was an alternate when he picked up two second-place finishes at World Cup events in December.
Morse was the most consistent skier down the stretch, registering a top-five and three top-10 finishes on the World Cup.
"It's not our first rodeo," U.S. Freestyle head coach Jeff Wintersteen said. "They know the ups and downs of the season. It's pretty normal."
Just like the women's event, the men will have to deal with the conditions at Cypress Mountain. The much ballyhooed coverage of the lack of snow and preparation has worn on the competitors.
But all indications were that the course would be good to go.
"It's the same for everyone, right?" Morse mused. "That's inconsequential. They'll get the event up no matter what."