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Five American Skiers Secure Their Spots on the 2010 Olympic Team

Five American Skiers Secure Their Spots on the 2010 Olympic Team

[ December 23, 2009 - 7:40pm ]
Jeret Peterson Flies High Over Steamboat at the 2010 Olympic Trials
Photo by: Steamboat Pilot and Today
Steamboat Springs, Colo., hosted the nordic and freestyle Olympic Trials December 23 and 24. The top finisher in each event earned a guaranteed spot on the team that will represent the U.S. in Vancouver in February.

Steamboat Springs, Colo., has produced more winter Olympians than any other city in the country, so it's fitting that the town and mountain hosted this year's nordic and freestyle Olympic Trials on December 23 and 24.

 

Light snow fell throughout the day Wednesday as the U.S. Ski Team's top nordic combined athletes kicked things off in the morning at Howelsen Hill with the 10-km cross-country race followed by the ski jumping event. Following a disappointing 2008-09 season, hometown boy and former World Champion Johnny Spillane has been skiing extremely well so far this season. Yesterday he edged out his teammates Todd Lodwick (also from Steamboat and a four-time Olympian) and Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY, and 2009 World Champion), to earn the first guaranteed spot on the U.S. Olympic nordic team. Lodwick and Demong, who round out the U.S. Team's top three nordic performers, are expected to secure the remaining two Olympic team spots based on their World Cup rankings throughout the remainder of the season. The trio could make history in 2010 by winning the nation's first Olympic medals in the individual and/or team nordic combined events. All three have won World Championships in the past five years and are considered the best U.S. Olympic nordic combined team in history.

Later in the afternoon Wednesday, the excitement moved to the moguls competition, held on the Voo Doo trail at Steamboat Resort. As with the nordic combined competition, the winners of the men's and women's moguls events here are guaranteed spots on the Olympic team that will represent the U.S. in Vancouver in February. Those two places went to Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, Wash.) and Hannah Kearney (Norwhich, VT).

The women competed first, each taking two runs on the 227 meter course. The highest single score from the two runs determines the winner, and this time it belonged to reigning World Cup Champion Kearney, who turned in the high score in both runs. Although she didn't clock the fastest time on either run, Kearney nailed her two aerial maneuvers—a back layout and a flat helicopter—and had a second clean run through the moguls to put her three-tenths of a point ahead of Colorado-native Emiko Torito and Shannon Bahrke, who placed second and third, respectively, and are strong contenders for the remaining spots on the team.

The men followed the women later in the afternoon with a similarly close battle that put Pat Deneen on top. In addition to a fast, clean zipper line through the bumps, he threw a back lay and cork 7 to secure his top spot. Jeremy Cota, a new face on the U.S. Ski Team, delivered a stellar performance that landed him in second place. Nate Roberts, who was expected to make a run at the top spot, was third after the first run but fell on his second aerial maneuver in his second run to finish in 12th place. Competition continued Thursday on the opposite side of Voo Doo, where the men and women aerialists showed what they can do. In the end, Lacy Shnoor from Draper, Utah, and former Olympian Jeret "Speedy" Petersen from Boise, Idaho, clinched their places on the U.S. Team.

Just one day after she landed her most difficult jump—a double full full—for the first time ever, Shnoor stomped it in the competition’s first round. She followed it up with a high, clean full double full on her second jump, earning her a total of 177.83. In the men’s competition, the top spot went to former Olympian Jeret Peterson, who is perhaps best known for his signature trick the Hurricane—three flips with five twists, the most difficult trick ever landed in competition. To clinch the win on Thursday, Peterson threw two slightly easier maneuvers and performed both almost flawlessly to earn a total of 258.21 points, edging out Dylan Ferguson and Ryan St. Onge, who also hails from Steamboat.

To watch highlights from the Trials, tune into NBC on Saturday, December 26 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.