think this is the right direction to go to the Olympics,” said Torito. “I think I
can keep improving to make that goal of an Olympic podium.”
Deneen, who had a major breakthrough when he won the 2009 World
Championships in Inawashiro, Japan, had a rocky start to the season, finishing 22nd and 25th in the Suomu World Cups. The Cle Elum, Wash., native
turned it around in a big way with a back lay and a cork seven airs.
“It was a rough go earlier in the season, so it’s nice to lay down the run and
get rewarded for it by the judges,” said Deneen, who earned his first trip to an
U.S. Ski Team rookie Jeremy Cota — with the support of some brave, shirtless fans with his name written on their torsos — grabbed the top score and
held on through several competitors until Deneen’s final run spoiled what
would have been a huge upset.
“That’s freestyle skiing for you, a lot of close calls,” said Cota, a Carrabassett
Valley Academy product, of his second-place finish. “I skied as well as I could
and I am definitely happy with that. It’s a little heartbreaking, but I’ll get over
it. I was happy to be there.”
Holt Haga of Boise, Idaho, finished third.
Aerials, Dec. 24
The U.S. Ski Team’s World Cup aerialists had to travel across 15 time zones
from the World Cup opener (Dec. 19-20) in Changchun, China, to Steamboat. Though Chinese jumpers dominated on their home turf, several
American jumpers got the rust out with some decent results at their first
World Cup event in nine months.
Jana Lindsey had the most momentum coming out of China with a fourth-
Lacy Schnoor flies to an
Olympic team berth.
place finish there — her World Cup career high. Two-time Olympian Emily
Cook, the favorite going into Steamboat, had solid results leading into the
Olympic Trials (12th and eighth-place finishes in China). Jeret “Speedy” Peterson was the hottest man (two ninth-place finishes in China) heading into
the Christmas Eve competition.
Peterson, a two-time Olympian, capitalized on his World Cup success in
China, taking the win and an early ticket to Vancouver. The women’s competition saw more of an upset as U.S. B-Team skier Lacy Schnoor beat out the
country’s best for her first Olympic berth.
The trip to Vancouver will be Peterson’s third Olympic appearance; he finished in the top 10 in both the Salt Lake and Torino Games. “I’m really excited
this time,” said Peterson, who scored a combined 258.21 after two jumps. “It’s
a lot more pressure than it ever has been before. I think it’s personal pressure
Jeret “Speedy” Peterson flips for an early ticket
to the Vancouver 2010 Games.
that I’m putting on myself, but I know that I’m not 21 anymore. I’m 28 years
old, and I’m not going to be doing this until I’m 60. It’s getting down to the
wire and I’m doing everything that I can to end up on the podium.”
Dylan Ferguson finished second in the men’s competition. “I’m not disappointed at all,” he said. “I landed two of the best jumps I’ve done all year and
that’s awesome for me.”
World champion Ryan St. Onge will have to rely on his World Cup results to
get him to Vancouver as he finished third.
The win was arguably Schnoor’s most important career result; she has been
competing on the World Cup since 2005 but with no better finish than eighth.
“I can’t believe that I’m going to go to the Olympics and I can’t wait to represent our country,” said Schnoor of Draper, Utah. “I hope I go out there and
do well. I knew I had a good chance this year. I had a really good summer of
training and I started doing well last year. In the competition I knew it was
going to be close and that second jump had to be perfect.”
Schnoor’s score of 177.83 kept her above second-place finisher and U.S. Ski
Team newcomer Ashley Caldwell, who made the national team a only week
earlier by winning a U.S. Freestyle Selection event. Cook landed third with a
score of 168.14.
“I had a rough one, but, these are the days we learn the most from,” read
Cook’s Twitter page after the contest. “Rough few comps, but only choice now:
use it to my advantage and get back to it.”
The rest of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Ski Team will be named
in late January, when athletes will be selected based on their World