Park City, Utah Feb. 16, 2002 (AP Eddie Pells)--Led by defending gold medalist Eric Bergoust, all four American men qualified for the Olympic freestyle aerials finals Saturday.
On the women's side of qualifying, Evelyne Leu of Switzerland set a world record, with a two-jump score of 203.16.
Bergoust, Jeret Peterson, Brian Currutt and hometown star Joe Pack helped the American men take four of the 12 spots in Tuesday's finals.
Now, the Americans are thinking of a sweep of another sort _ on the medals stand.
``All those guys went conservative today, just to make sure they landed,'' American coach Jeff Wintersteen said. ``Now, they'll turn up the heat.''
Bergoust finished second in qualifying, behind Alexei Grichin of Belarus. Pack was third, Peterson seventh and Currutt 10th.
In eighth place was Ales Valenta of the Czech Republic, who qualified without trying his quintuple-twisting triple flip, a jump nobody else attempts. He said he may bring it out for the final, and if he sticks it, he'll be a strong candidate for the podium.
``We'll see what the weather's going to be,'' Valenta said. ``Hopefully, I'll go for it.''
Leu didn't hold anything back for qualifying.
She is one of only two women who try a triple flip with three full twists. She nailed it on her second jump, earned a score of 99.42, and combined with her first-jump score of 103.74, she had the record.
The previous record of 200.21 was set by Xiaoou Ji of China in 1998.
``I didn't think gold medal, or world record or anything,'' Leu said. ``I just wanted to do my jump.''
She did, and immediately established herself as the prime contender for gold in the women's finals Monday. America's top jumper, Emily Cook, and Australia's Jacqui Cooper, the only other woman who tries the triple-twisting triple, are both out of the competition with injuries.
Meanwhile, the second-place qualifier, Alisa Camplin of Australia, finished with a score of 183.66, a full 19.5 points behind Leu.
With Cook out, the United States brought only two women into the competition. Both Brenda Petzold and Tracy Evans failed to qualify.
Evans, a three-time Olympian, came back for one more Olympics to become one of the few women to try a triple somersault, albeit not with as many twists as the one Leu perfected. Evans went for it on her second jump, but her body slammed backward on the landing, and her hopes for the finals were dashed.
``I wouldn't say we expected anything,'' Wintersteen said. ``We were really hopeful. Brenda has been in the top-12 a lot. Tracy has too. It wasn't something we couldn't do. The caliber was definitely up a bit. We saw a world record. It was a tough day to not be at your best.''
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