Trial and air
I sat down to write a column Thursday to encourage readers to check out the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for freestyle skiing in Steamboat Springs on Friday, but there was one slight problem.
I knew as much about the event as I knew about deep-sea fishing (I’ve never lived remotely near an ocean).
I decided it would be best to not write that column. It’s hard to fill 14 inches of space with three sentences. The column would have been in huge print and read something like this: “Everybody should go check out the trials. There will be world-class athletes flying in the air. Boy-oh-boy it will be neat.”
That story may have led to me earning a pink slip for New Year’s Day.
So I apologize if readers sat around Friday and twiddled their thumbs thinking, “I sure wish there was something to do today.”
I decided to educate myself by going to the mogul competition.
I took my sister and my fiance (that story is for another column) with me Friday morning and we hiked up Mount Werner to the Voo Doo ski run.
The hike itself was worth the trip. I think I burned off the extra calories from my Christmas meal, struggling up the mountain in snowshoes.
When my sister reached the top she said, “My lungs feel like they are going to explode.”
Once we caught our breath, we watched as 11 of the countries’ best women and 12 of the countries’ best freestyle skiers attacked the moguls and two jumps on Voo Doo.
I’ve watched both the mogul events on television before, but the speed and the tricks are crazier and scarier in person.
The first men’s competitor, Landon Gardner, went so big on the second jump he landed on a mogul 60 feet down the course. When he landed, he hit his nose on a knee, which gave him a bloody nose. The announcers joked that he had jumped so high the bloody nose was from the change in air pressure.
Hannah Kearney of Norwich, Vt., and Jeremy Bloom of Loveland were the winners. The event winners won automatic bids to the Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Bloom’s speed down the hill was amazing. He finished more than a second faster than the rest of the field. It has to be sweet for the two-time Olympic qualifier because he had to leave the University of Colorado football team this year to train. The NCAA wouldn’t let him compete as a college athlete because he received sponsorships as a skier.
Bloom held off Steamboat Springs’ hometown favorite Travis Mayer in the competition.
The U.S. team’s coach, Jeff Wintersteen, was excited with what he saw.
“(Blooms) and T-Mayer’s are gold and silver in Torino,” he told the Steamboat Today.
The second-best aspect of the event (the first was the crazy jumps) for me was how the athletes presented themselves.
If they had a good run, they gave a couple of fist pumps and a big smile, but there was no chauvinistic behavior.
“There aren’t a lot of egos on this team,” Bloom told the Steamboat Today.
I’m glad I dragged myself up Mount Werner.
I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity again to watch a qualifying event for the Olympics. For it to be only 40 miles away is impressive to this small-town boy.
My only regret is that I didn’t know enough to inform the rest of Craig so we all could have seen it.
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