Bryon Wilson cruises down the Voo Doo moguls course Monday while training for the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials at Steamboat Ski Area. Wilson, of Butte, Mont., will be a favorite in the men’s moguls event after a second-place showing in Finland.

Photo by John F. Russell

Bryon Wilson cruises down the Voo Doo moguls course Monday while training for the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials at Steamboat Ski Area. Wilson, of Butte, Mont., will be a favorite in the men’s moguls event after a second-place showing in Finland.

America’s best moguls skiers battle for Olympic slot today

2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials schedule

Wednesday

■ 8:30 a.m. Nordic combined trial jumps at Howelsen Hill

■ 9 to 9: 30 a.m. Nordic combined competition jumps at Howelsen Hill

■ 11:30 a.m. to noon Nordic combined 10-kilometer cross-country race at the rodeo grounds at Howelsen Hill

■ 12:45 p.m. Moguls showcase at Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area

■ 1 to 1:45 p.m. Men’s and women’s moguls Run 1 at Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area

■ 2 to 2:45 p.m. Men’s and women’s moguls Run 2 at Voo Doo ski run

■ 3:30 p.m. Final Awards for all events at Gondola Square at Steamboat Ski Area

■ 4 p.m. Concert — Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Gondola Square

Thursday

■ 10 to 10:30 a.m. Aerials Run 1 at Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area

■ 10:40 to 11:10 a.m. Aerials Run 2 at Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area

■ 11:30 a.m. Aerials awards at Voo Doo ski run at Steamboat Ski Area

All events are free and open to the public

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In the freestyle moguls world, Pat Deneen and Jeremy Cota are on different ends of the spectrum.

Deneen is the reigning world champion and one of America’s great hopes for a freestyle medal in Vancouver, British Columbia. Cota won the NorAm circuit last season and is on the U.S. Freestyle “C” team, trying to qualify for more World Cup competitions.

But at least for one day, the two U.S. Ski Team members will have an equal shot at a berth in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Deneen and Cota will have two runs today to punch their ticket in a winner-takes-all event at the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in Steam­boat Springs.

The first moguls run on Voo Doo ski trail at Steamboat Ski Area takes place at 1 p.m. today for the men and women. The second run is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

“Every time out, you try to put together a fast, clean run,” Deneen said. “Here, only a win does anything for you. Second does nothing.”

That’s what makes the event so unusual. Although a guy like Deneen — or Bryon Wilson or Mike Morse or Nate Roberts — has a great shot at winning, so does a skier like Cota, who was just named to the U.S. “C” Team in the spring.

“You’re playing the game,” Cota said. “On one hand, you want to ski well, and you want to be consistent. Even if you don’t win, it’s a little confidence boost. But everyone knows if you’re not first in this event, it doesn’t matter what you get. Everyone is pushing themselves a little harder. It’s winner take all.”

It also puts the athletes in somewhat of a precarious position. Although they’re teammates, they’re also battling for the one spot. In essence, it’s an event where the only thing that really does matter is who finishes No. 1.

“There is no point in getting second place,” Morse said. “You definitely have to go for it as much as you can. The person that goes for it and can hold on moves on. And everyone is capable.”

Hannah Kearney, who won the women’s World Cup overall moguls championship last season and currently leads the World Cup standings, won a berth in the Olympics four years ago by winning the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Kearney, who is almost certainly going to make the Olympics, said despite her standing, a competition of this level brings out the best in the skiers.

So although Kearney will be rooting for her teammates and the 10 other female competitors, she said that like at any other event, the bottom line is she wants to win.

“It would be a lovely way to spend Christmas, knowing you have the spot,” she said. “I do have two solid results with World Cups, but it’s not the golden ticket.

“I want it.”

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