High-flying sweethearts Camplin, Omischl are SR freestyle winners{mosimage}Don’t they make a lovely couple? Canadian Steve Omischl and significant other Alisa Camplin took the top spots in this year’s Ski Racing freestyle rankings. U.S. mogul skiers Hannah Kearney and Toby Dawson were not far behind.

International Freestyle Skiers of the Year
Steve Omischl
Age: 24
Hometown: North Bay, Ontario
Skis/Boots: ID-1/Raichle

During his first four seasons on the World Cup circuit, Canadian aerialist Steve Omischl had two victories, both earned during the 2003 season. In his fifth season on the Canadian national team, Omischl’s talent and maturity finally came together. He won the opening World Cup aerial events last September in Australia — and maintained that momentum all season. In 12 World Cup contests, Omischl won six times and was second three times, winning the aerials crystal globe by more than 200 points. The Canadian, who lists three card-carrying aerials greats — American Eric Bergoust and Canadians Phil Laroche and Lloyd Langlois — as his inspirations, finally has emerged from the very large shadow cast by his girlfriend Alisa Camplin, the Olympic, world and two-time World Cup aerials champion. At the ’03 World’s, where Omischl took bronze, when someone pointed out Camplin’s success (she’d just won the women’s title), he said, “Yeah, welcome to my world.” No more. This time around, they ended the season as king and queen of their sport.

Age: 29
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Skis/Boots: ID-1/Raichle

At 5′ 4″, former gymnast Alisa Camplin may not be the tallest aerialist — until she stands on her medals and her World Cup victories. Since the 2002 Olympics, Camplin, who turns 30 in November, has led her field. She didn’t start aerials training until she was 19, when she watched former world and World Cup champ Jacqui Cooper at an exhibition. Eight years later, having stepped onto just three podiums in six seasons of competing on the World Cup circuit, Camplin was the surprise Olympic champion. She went into 2003 still in quest of her first World Cup win, and wound up winning three times, took gold at World’s at Deer Valley, Utah, and won the World Cup title. Heading into 2004, she had three wins and eight podiums to her name. This season, she won seven of 12 events, took second twice and third once to win her second consecutive World Cup title, this time by more than 250 points. As she said — without the megawatt smile, and without a trace of pretense — after winning in Lake Placid in January, “I just like to win.”

U.S. Freestyle Skier of the Year, U.S. Junior Freestyle Skier of the Year
Age: 18
Hometown: Norwich, Vermont
Skis/Boots/Bindings: Völkl/Tecnica/Marker

By all rights, we should be discussing moguls skier Hannah Kearney as the top American junior freestyler. But Kearney, who started the season as a 17-year-old high school senior and finished as an 18 year old (graduation comes in June, but the Honor Roll student finished her classwork in January), had an immense season. Kearney had won four gold medals at World Juniors in the two previous seasons and, before it was announced there would be no World Juniors this season, said she was not going to compete there even though she could have. In her first full season on the World Cup, she grabbed two wins and three other podiums. When Shannon Bahrke broke her jaw in Japan in February, Kearney stepped up and took over as No. 1 for the American women and finished the season fourth in the points. There’s no telling what she’ll accomplish now that she’s a high school graduate.

U.S. Freestyle Skier of the Year
Age: 24
Hometown: Vail, Colorado
Skis/Boots/Bindings: Rossignol

Toby “Awesome” Dawson’s nickname has suited him for several years, but it wasn’t until this year that he began stringing together successes. This moguls skier loves going big whenever he can, and if someone’s on hand to watch, great. If hundreds or thousands are on hand, even better. Crowds are like oxygen for Dawson. “They want to see a show, and I like to put on a show,” is his simple explanation. Dawson was understandably stung when he failed to make the Olympic moguls foursome in 2002, but he’s used that missed opportunity as fuel to charge his game. In 2003, Dawson came home from the world championships with the bronze medals for both moguls and duals (“When I go in a closet, they’ll look just like gold,” he laughed). This season, Dawson had a podium in the second meet of the season, and turned up the heat when the tour returned to Deer Valley in late January. He devoured the next six events — three wins, a second, two thirds — and was second in the standings with a mathematical chance to overtake Finn Janne Lahtela until Dawson broke his leg just weeks before World Cup Finals. By then, Dawson had served as the catalyst for the U.S. men, who filled six of the top eight spots in the World Cup points list.

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