FILE UNDER -- Freestyle

U.S. Olympic aerials team greets the press in Torino

U.S. Olympic aerials team greets the press in Torino{mosimage}TORINO, Italy (Feb. 8) – The six members of the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Aerials Team arrived at the Torino airport Wednesday and came straight to the Main Media Center in Torino to meet with members of the press.

The team includes Eric Bergoust, Emily Cook, Jana Lindsey, Joe Pack, Jeret Peterson and Ryan St. Onge.

Bergoust, the 1998 Olympic and 1999 Worlds gold medalist, is competing in his fourth Games.

“My first Games were in Lillehammer, Norway [1994] and that was special for me because my great, great, great grandfather is from Lillehammer,” said Bergoust. “I just tried to learn from the experience. I didn’t really give myself much of a shot at getting on the podium.”

Bergoust ended up finishing seventh in Norway.

“In Nagano [1998 Olympics], after training hard for four years, I jumped well there and got a gold,” said Bergoust. “Salt Lake [2002 Olympics] was definitely unique because I had been living in Park City, Utah, since about 1998. It was a much different feel than the other Olympic experiences I was used to because, for one, it was at home and because of all the security. I didn’t end up jumping to my potential there [12th place], so it was a very disappointing result.”

Bergoust is back again and not only looking to get back on the podium, but also to enjoy the whole experience.

“Now I’m here for my fourth Games, and this one, I’m looking forward to having much more fun,” said Bergoust. “The last Olympics I’ve been to have been all business, in it to win it. This one, I definitely don’t want to let an opportunity slip by, but I also want to enjoy myself while I’m here and try to reflect on my career.”

Pack launched himself onto the podium at the 2002 Olympics and collected a silver medal in his first Games. He’s also the owner of two bronze medals from World Championships.

“First of all, four years go by pretty quick,” said Pack. “It [2002 Olympics] was a very special experience for sure. I felt super confident because it was in Utah, it was at Deer Valley, in my backyard. I’ve been skiing Deer Valley since I was really young, so I had a blast.”

Peterson got a spot on the ’02 Olympic squad because of an injury to Cook that kept her from competing in Utah. The ’05 World Cup aerials champ placed ninth at Deer Valley. Peterson is dialing in a five-twist jump that, if landed, will give him a major boost over many other competitors.

“One of the things I feel I’m good at is twisting,” said Peterson. “Coming off last season, I had a lot of confidence coming into this year, so I was looking forward to trying the hurricane and land it on snow. I’ve been pretty successful in training with it, landed one at Lake Placid. It’s been a challenge, but I’m very excited and confident with where I’m going with it.”

Just prior to the ’02 Games, Cook tore ligaments in both feet and fractured and dislocated bones in her left foot after landing hard in training in Lake Placid. She not only missed the Olympics, but the 2003 and 2004 seasons as well.

“I’m just very excited to be here in Italy,” said Cook. “It’s been a long four years recovering from that injury. Just getting on the plane was an amazing experience.”

St. Onge, the ’02 and ’03 U.S. aerials champion, sewed up his first Olympic spot by winning the trials at Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

“It was a lot of fun for me to go there and compete at home,” said St. Onge.

Lindsey comes to Torino as the first winter Olympian from South Dakota. She recorded a pair of top-five World Cup finishes to qualify for her first Olympics.

“Growing up in South Dakota gave me a great background,” said Lindsey. “The people there are very supportive of me, the family is very supportive. Coming into my first Olympics is really exciting, it’s been my childhood dream. To actually be here and be experiencing this is amazing.”

The Olympic aerials events take place in Sauze d’Oulx. Women’s qualifying goes off Sunday, Feb. 19 with finals on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Men’s qualifying is Monday, Feb. 20 with the finals scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23.


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