Lake Placid, N.Y. Jan. 19, 2002 (USSA)--In storybook fashion, Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO) grabbed his dream of making the Olympic Team by winning the final Olympic selection World Cup moguls event Saturday at the Gateway U.S. Freestyle Classic while Jillian Vogtli (Ellicotville, NY) claimed her Olympic spot. U.S. men filled five of the first six places while U.S. women took five of the first seven.
CBS will televise coverage Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. EST and Outdoor Life Network will televise its coverage Feb. 14 at 9:30 p.m. EST. The Olympic Team will be announced Tuesday.
Bloom, a 19-year-old wide receiver, was in the middle of the pack as the top 12 finishers from the first run moved into the finals. He hit a heli-mute-grab and a quad twister jump on the bottom for 27.96 points while Gold Cup winner Travis Mayer (Steamboat Springs, CO), was second with 27.79. Mayer, who grew up in the Buffalo, N.Y., area and is one of five skiers on the U.S. team from Holiday Valley Ski Area, did a heli-X and quad twister in the 25-degre weather.
Head Coach Jeff Wintersten shook his head as he looked at the scores. "Incredible...imagine telling an athlete, 'You have to score 28 points' to be on the podium.' We saw some great skiing with a lot of skiers going big."
Bloom--the leader was on the bubble
Bloom -- the World Cup leader but still in danger of losing an Olympic spot coming into the event -- -- said, "I've tried to be consistent all season and before the second run I figured it was time to transition beyond that. It was time to put it on the line. I'd be first or I was gonna be 12th, but I wasn't holding back."
He said getting up before 6 a.m. was a little early for him to get his motor going. "The first run on the course was a lot more icy and I needed to just have a solid run to get into Finals. I didn't finish one run in training; I was all over the place, switching lines. I wanted to get clean run to get me into Finals and then I qualified ninth so I knew I just had to go for it. I set consistency aside...
Although he had top-3s in the first two World Cup meets of the season, Bloom said he knew hi Olympic spot was wide open. "If two guys beside himself and Mayer, whose Gold Cup win guaranteed him a berth went 1-2, I was out. I knew it wasn't a done deal. I just wanted to ski to win today, and ifI messed up that would be the price I'd have to pay...
"It feels great to win today but I want to be on top in February. I'll soak this in for today and then get back to work tomorrow."
Discretionary choices pay off
Bloom had been a coaches' discretionary choice before the opening World Cup in November. Mayer had been a discretionary choice before the Sprint U.S. Grand National in December in his hometown.
"I was a development team skier four weeks ago. I didn't think I would be one of the top guys on our team," said Mayer, who is a student at Cornell University when he's not training or competing. "Going to the Olympics is way more than I could ever have expected, let alone predicted."
In the women's competition, Hardaway hung-up her third second-place finish of the season by hitting a heli and double twister spread, the first time she's thrown a triple trick off the bottom jump. She did it by resting early in the week after having back pains in Europe over the past two weeks.
Vogtli is rebounding from surgery to repair torn ligaments in her right knee at the end of last season. She got better with every World Cup but knew she needed a podium to get an Olympic spot.
Vogtli shrugged off pressure cooker atmosphere
"I wasn't focusing on any place, just skiing my best," she said. "I won't believe it the Olympic berth until I see it in writing, but this is so great." Her tricks were a twister spread at the top of the run, a triple twister off the bottom jump.
"Rather than viewing today as a big pressure cooker, I decided to just come out here and have some fun -- and that's when I ski my best," said Vogtli, who was cheered on by a group of friends from western New York. "I pickup my eyes and go, and that's what I did."
The Gateway Freestyle Classic concludes Sunday with the second aerials event of the weekend. Team meetings are scheduled Monday with final team selection an announcement Tuesday.