10 as Danielle Poleschuk finished sixth, Kelsey Serwa
(the previous week’s winner in Alpe d’Huez) took
ninth and Julia Murray claimed 10th.
Though the podium belonged to Austrians Matt and
Patrick Koller in first and second and Swede Lars
Lewen in third, Canadians Brady Leman, Stanley
Hayer and David Duncan kept the home team in it
with fifth, seventh and ninth-place finishes.
Seven U.S. racers started, but none fared better than
Caitlin Ciccone’s 27th-place finish. With Casey Puck-
ett out nursing a separated shoulder joint and Daron
Rahlves saving his best for Lake Placid and the X
Games, no American men made it into the top 32 to
race in the final.
Lake Placid Ski Cross, Jan. 24
The momentum stayed in Canada’s corner as competition shifted to Lake Placid for the final World Cup
event before the Games. With a repeat of the Jan. 13
World Cup in Alpe d’Huez, France, Serwa and Del
Bosco earned their second victories of the season while
Duncan finished third in the men’s race; the Canadian
team grabbed half of the day’s podium spots.
Rahlves was back in action in Lake Placid following
his first career ski cross podium (he had a second-place result in St. Johann, Austria in early January)
with a fourth place finish on what he called “the first
track I’ve seen on the World Cup that really excited
me,” on his website.
“It was nice to make the final,” said Rahlves, who got
an unlucky gate in the final heat and lost ground after
hitting a kicker. “I had some good heats. It was a great
track with a lot of good opportunity.”
Three more Canadian men stacked the top 10 as
Brian Bennett, Leman and Hayer finished 7-9-10.
Duncan’s third-place result, his season high, landed
him the final spot on the Canadian Olympic freestyle
Serwa won each of her four final heats to defeat both
Switzerland’s Fanny Smith in second and six-time
World Cup champion (and last year’s winner here),
Ophelie David of France in third. Canadian Ashleigh
McIvor was the last to cross the line in the final for a
Following the Lake Placid event, seven members of
the Canadian Ski Cross Team were named Olympians. Duncan, Serwa, Del Bosco, McIvor, Murray, Poleschuk and Hayer will represent arguably the best ski
cross nation in the world at Cypress Mountain.
Despite Langley McNeal’s valiant effort in Lake
Placid (she tied her career high in 16th-place) no
American women will compete in the sport’s Olympic debut in Vancouver. McNeal and teammate Caitlin Ciccone (21st in Lake Placid) competed in all six
Olympic-qualifying World Cup races this season but
neither made it past a quarterfinal and lost potential
freestyle quota spots to American aerialists and moguls skiers.
Q&A with Luke Bodensteiner
Ski Racing caught up with USSA Vice President of Athletics Luke Bodensteiner at the Olympic
Freestyle team announcement in Park City to get his take on the team he has helped mold for the
Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Ski Racing: How close did the U.S. come to fielding a women’s ski cross team for the sport’s Olympic debut?
Bodensteiner: It was close with Caitlin, then, in the end, it was close with Langley McNeal. She
threw down a great run in Lake Placid and that almost put her on the team. We ended up not getting
a quota spot there and we ended up getting a women’s aerials spot, which we gave to Ashley Caldwell
today. She was qualified ahead of Langley and Caitlin anyway but it was close. Langley made a really
nice run at it. I’m actually a little disappointed we don’t have any girls in ski cross.
SR: What does USSA need to do to establish a stronger women’s ski cross program?
LB: We will definitely be focused for the next couple season on building the infrastructure around
the sport — ranking lists, competitions — and building a system that will attract kids and develop
them the same way we do in other sports. We’ve got to make sure we have the right management
structure over the team. It’s an interesting position; as everybody knows, it’s a freestyle sport but
there are elements of boarder cross and alpine. We’ll make an evaluation after this year and really
start to see how we manage that best, but developing the grassroots level is going to be important.
SR: Will there be more of a push to encourage alpine racers to make the transition into ski cross and
stay in the USSA system?
LB: We’d love to see more crossover for sure. Caitlin [Ciccone] was actually the first alpine skier
that we convinced to go straight from the alpine team into ski cross and she made a nice run at it and
had some really good World Cup races. I think that will sort of open the door for alpine skiers in the
future, even potentially next season, for those who are dropping out of the team to give that a go.
SR: What is your overall feeling of the Olympic Freestyle Team that was announced today?
LB: I feel good. Lake Placid was an amazing performance by the ladies for sure. The guys are all
capable of podium results. We haven’t had a podium this year yet in aerials but we’ve got athletes
who are doing the jumps that will get them there if they can land those we’ll be good there. The
energy is high in the team right now, even in aerials where we haven’t had a podium. There is not a
frustration there; they know what they have to do and they know they have time to get that done so
we are pretty positive going into it.
SR: Ashley Caldwell’s Olympic berth at 16 years old is very impressive. Is the Elite Air Program [de-signed to turn gymnasts into aerialists] she came from the future of the sport in the U.S.?
LB: It will absolutely be a part of the future; clubs will still be a part of that future as well for sure.
She came along much quicker than we anticipated; we’ve seen for seven or eight months that she
could have the potential to qualify for the Olympics, but when we brought her into the development program, we really had no expectations of it happening that quickly. For us it’s a really good
validation of the strategy of that program. We will definitely continue it and put a good amount of
emphasis behind it in the future.
SR: How much activity is the new Center of Excellence seeing in these days before the Games?
LB: The center is going to be a hotbed up through about two thirds of the Olympics actually. We
will have camps going on before Opening Ceremonies and then even some of our camps, like the
men’s alpine technical camp, will go on during the Olympics. We are actually bringing the nordic
combined skiers back to Park City after the first competition to do some training here when they
close the jumps in Whistler. So we will have a lot of activity up through some of the Games. It’s great
to have that as a home base, it’s really provided an anchor for our teams. When freestyle was here at
Deer Valley it was such an advantage for our athletes to have the Center of Excellence to go to while
every one else is trying to do their training out of hotel rooms and garages and our athletes were in
a great spot.