Freestyle team starts '07 with chunk of retirees
The customary post-Olympic retirements have taken a fistful of medal winners from the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, but an equally big cluster of talent remains for the 2007 season, topped by moguls world champions Nate Roberts and Hannah Kearney.
THE CUSTOMARY POST-OLYMPIC RETIREMENTS have taken a fistful of medal winners from the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, but an equally big cluster of talent remains for the 2007 season, topped by moguls world champions Nate Roberts and Hannah Kearney.
Reigning world dual moguls champion Toby Dawson and former Olympic, worlds and/or World Cup champions or medalists Eric Bergoust (aerials), Joe Park (aerials), Travis Cabral (moguls) and Travis Mayer (moguls) retired after last season while 2005 aerials World Cup champion Jeret “Speedy” Peterson is taking a year away from his sport. But freestyle coach Jeff Wintersteen pointed out, “We still have some pretty outstanding athletes coming back.
"We have some serious talent among the moguls skiers and we're moving in the right direction as we rebuild aerials," he said.
The moguls team remains one of the premier squads on the World Cup. Among the men, Roberts and Dave Babic are backed by David DiGravio, who, given a chance at the World Cup last season, produced his first podium in March. Up-and-comers Landon Gardner, Tim Preston and Mike Morse are looking to make their breakthrough at the top level.
Kearney leads a women's delegation, which is at its strongest since Olympic and worlds gold medalist (and five-time World Cup champion) Donna Weinbrecht, former Worlds and World Cup champion Ann Battelle and Olympic medalist Liz McIntyre competed in the mid-to-late 1980s. This season the moguls team features former World Cup champion Shannon Bahrke and Jillian Vogtli, a pair of two-time Olympians, plus Michelle Roark, a former World Cup dual moguls champion who won two more World Cup moguls contests last season en route to her first Olympics. Add to that group NorAm champion (five wins) Heather McPhie, Shelly Robertson and two outstanding duals skiers – Kayla Snyderman, the '06 NorAm champ, and '05 NorAm champ McKenzy Golding.
The ranks are a bit thinner on the aerials side. Ryan St. Onge, who won two World Cup events a year ago, is the top men’s aerialist, while Olympians Jana Lindsey and Emily Cook are joined by Lacy Schnoor.
In addition, Scott Rawles has replaced Don St. Pierre as moguls head coach with former World Cup skier Garth Hager joining the moguls coaching staff; McIntyre, who turned to coaching after retiring from competition in 1998, also retired after eight years as moguls technical coach.
The World Cup aerials season opens Dec. 9-10 in Jilin Beida Lake, China, while the moguls schedule begins Dec. 14 in Tignes, France. The Freestyle World Ski Championships will be Jan. 23-28 in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, with the U.S. World Cups Jan. 11-13 at the Chevrolet Freestyle International at Deer Valley, Utah, and the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup Jan. 18-20 at Lake Placid, New York.