Mogul skier Bryon Wilson trains on Mayer’s Mogul Run prior to the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in December. Wilson, and the other seven members of the U.S. Olympic freestyle team, will be back in Steamboat Springs in February for a pre-Olympic training camp.

Photo by John F. Russell

Mogul skier Bryon Wilson trains on Mayer’s Mogul Run prior to the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in December. Wilson, and the other seven members of the U.S. Olympic freestyle team, will be back in Steamboat Springs in February for a pre-Olympic training camp.

Moguls skiers to sharpen skills in Steamboat

— Every day, thousands of visitors come to Steamboat Springs hoping to rest and relax on the slopes of Steamboat Ski Area.

Scott Rawles, head mogul coach for the U.S. Ski Team, is coming to Steamboat with a different goal in mind.

He thinks the bumps found on Mayer’s Mogul Run on Voo Doo ski run will provide a great place for his team to escape the hype that surrounds the Olympics and refocus its efforts on the ultimate goal — winning a medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Steamboat is an awesome place for us to train,” Rawles said. “It’s a great ski town, and the competition venue there is similar in pitch to the one we will be competing on in Vancouver.”

Rawles said this would be the third time the team has held its pre-Olympic training camp in Steamboat and the second time since Rawles started with the team. The squad trained in Steamboat Springs before the 2002 games, and Steamboat is where Jonny Moseley perfected his dinner roll and Travis Mayer fine-tuned his silver medal run.

The freestyle team also spent several days in Steamboat leading up to the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Jeff Good, who coached the mogul skiers on the U.S. team from 1991 to 1998, said Steamboat always has been a part of the freestyle team’s training plans.

“Steamboat has a great freestyle tradition, and all of the athletes really like to come here,” Good said.

Good said the town’s support and amenities such as the mogul course on Voo Doo and the freestyle training facility at Bald Eagle Lake have made Steamboat a great place to train.

Good said coaches from the U.S. Ski Team contacted him during the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials, and he has been acting as a liaison to make the camp in Steamboat possible with the help and support of Steamboat Ski Area.

“Steamboat has a long and proud freestyle tradition that began with Park Smalley … so it only seems appropriate that Ski Town USA hosts the athletes of the U.S. Freestyle Team as they prepare for the Vancouver Olympics,” said Andy Wirth, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The team will be in Steam­boat Springs from Feb. 1 to 7, and Rawles said the team would have four training days on the mountain. The team is tentatively scheduled to train on Feb. 2, 3, 5 and 6. Rawles said the team would be on the course from 2 to 4 p.m. and also might do some things with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club while they are here.

He said the late afternoon training times are an attempt to simulate what the athletes will face at the Olympics, where the freestyle events are held at night.

“The competitions will be at night under the lights. This will not be exactly what we will see in Vancouver, but it’s close enough,” Rawles said.

He wants the athletes to get used to a late afternoon schedule and making the most of the early part of the day for physical training and mental preparation for the events.

“We gave the athletes a week to rest, get away from skiing and take care of any arrangements they need to make for Vancouver,” Rawles said “The idea behind the camp is to get them all back together and to get them refocused on competition and the Olympics.”

Good said he thinks it is a great opportunity for Steamboat Springs residents to come out and watch the next Olympic stars prepare for a shot at glory.

Rawles said he also hopes people will come and watch the skiers training and hopes the athletes will get a chance to interact with the community.

“That’s also important for the team,” Rawles said. “It will prepare our skiers for what they are going to have in Vancouver. Interacting with the fans and dealing with the public is a big part of what the Olympics are all about.”

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