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Old 03-28-2008, 09:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Sprint Freestyle Championships Hit Park City

PARK CITY, Utah (March 22) - The top freestyle skiers in America will converge on Park City March 27-30 for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships. The events will be held at three of Park City's Olympic venues, the Utah Olympic Park, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.

The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships are an opportunity for top divisional freestyle athletes to compete against the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, which is coming off a great season. 10 team athletes combined for 19 World Cup podium finishes, including wins by aerialist Emily Cook (Belmont, MA), and moguls skiers Emiko Torito (Steamboat Springs), Michelle Roark (Denver), Shelly Robertson (Reno, NV) and David Babic (Washington, VT).

"It was a great season for the Team and we always love coming home to showcase our best athletes, said Freestyle Director Polly-Jo Clark. "And for the younger athletes, it's a chance to break through and gain a spot on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team.

Action will get underway Thursday with aerials at the Utah Olympic Park. Aerials is one of the most exciting events with athletes twisting and flipping 60 feet in the air. Cook, who won her first World Cup in Moscow last month, will lead the women with veteran Ryan St. Onge (Winter Park, CO) among the top men. Also in the field will be FIS World Cup rookie of the year Allison Treleaven (Ft. Wayne, IN). Cook is the defending U.S. champion. St. Onge has won three titles, the last coming in 2005.

Friday action shifts to the superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort for skier halfpipe. Defending champions Jen Hudak (Park City, UT) and David Wise (Reno, NV) are expected to lead, along with Jessica Cumming (Wilton, CT) and Jonathan Marks (Boise, ID).

Hudak had a sensational season on the World Cup winning the season finale in Valmalenco, Italy and taking second in the final standings.

Moguls action gets underway on the weekend with individual moguls Saturday and duals on Sunday at Deer Valley Resort, site of the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. Deer Valley's Champion run is considered one of the toughest in the world and a fixture on the World Cup. Nearly 20,000 spectators were on hand at Deer Valley in early February for the Visa Freestyle International World Cup.

Both defending individual champs Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) and Holt Haga (Boise, ID) are out with injuries. But the field is stacked with World Cup winners including Torito, Roark and Robertson on the women's side, plus Babic and Nate Roberts (Park City, UT) for the men. And watch for World Cup Rookie of the Year Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, WA), too.

In duals, fans can look for Robertson, who won the World Cup in January, to be favored to defend her U.S. title. Sho Kashima (South Lake Tahoe, CA) will defend his men's title.

"The younger kids are looking forward to the chance to try and beat the veterans," said Freestyle Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen. "The World Cup athletes are a little tired coming off the season, but they'll rally. It will be nice to be back at Park City. It's our home area. It's a venue we're really familiar with. For the team, it certainly gives them an edge because it's our home court."

"Utah is a real hotbed of freestyle skiing - you can see the young aspiring athletes at all of the resorts, said USSA Vice President of Events Calum Clark. "And we have three of the world's best Olympic venues as our stage. It will be four days of exciting competitions.

Admission is free to all of the events.

2008 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships
Thursday, March 27
11:00 a.m. - Sprint Aerial Championships (Utah Olympic Park)

Friday, March 28
9:45 a.m. - Skier halfpipe qualifications (Park City Mountain Resort)
12:00 p.m. - Sprint Halfpipe Championships (Park City Mountain Resort)

Saturday, March 29
10:15 a.m. - Women's moguls qualifications (Deer Valley Resort)
12:45 p.m. - Men's moguls qualifications (Deer Valley Resort)
2:45 p.m. - Sprint Moguls Championships (Deer Valley Resort)

Sunday, March 30
10:15 a.m. - Women's dual moguls qualifications (Deer Valley Resort)
12:45 p.m. - Men's dual moguls qualifications (Deer Valley Resort)
2:45 p.m. - Sprint Dual Moguls Championships (Deer Valley Resort)



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Old 03-28-2008, 09:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Deneen, Treleaven FIS Rookies of the Year

PARK CITY, Utah (March 26) - Adding another mark of greatness to the success of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team this season, Allison Treleaven (Fort Wayne, IN) and Pat Deneen (Cle Elum, WA) were named FIS World Cup Rookies of the Year.

Selection for the FIS World Cup Rookie of the Year award is made by coaches from international teams based on both performance and character.

"What these two athletes accomplished this year is a testament to their commitment to our program. And it's pretty cool that the international community of coaches acknowledges that with this honor," said Freestyle Program Director Polly-Jo Clark. "It will be fun to see how they continue to develop and grow in their athletic careers - they can achieve the highest of success if they continue to work hard."

In his first year on the national team and competing on the World Cup circuit, moguls skier Deneen kicked off the World Cup season with back to back third-place podium finishes in Lake Placid, NY, and rounded out the year with another World Cup third in Valmalenco, Italy.

"It's an incredible honor to be named rookie of the year. It's done by an international panel of coaches, and to be recognized by those who have been in the sport for so long is great," Deneen said. "It's really a once in a lifetime honor because you're only a rookie for one year, so I'm excited."

"Pat's really made a lot of fundamental changes with his skiing. He bought into the program and he made it happen," said U.S. Freestyle Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen. "He obviously has a really high natural talent and it just works for him."

Treleaven, an aerialist, tucked herself into the top 10 of her first World Cup event to get her season going in Lake Placid, NY.

"I was really excited when I found out I was named FIS World Cup Rookie of the Year. It's definitely an honor," Treleaven said. "This is my first year on the World Cup and being named was a great way to finish out my season."

"Allison did a great job this year, really worked hard this summer and she was able to carry it out onto the snow," Wintersteen said. "I am excited for both of them this next year looking at the World Championships in Inawashiro [Japan] and then, of course, Vancouver in 2010."

Deneen and Treleaven head next to the 2008 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships in Park City, Utah March 27-30 where they will finish out an incredible season.



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Old 03-28-2008, 09:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Veteran Cook Ready to Soar

PARK CITY, Utah (March 26) - Emily Cook (Belmont, MA) is coming home to the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships in Park City beaming with confidence. And rightly so. The Massachusetts native, who now calls Park City home, returns with a World Cup win her pocket as she seeks her third U.S. aerials title.

Another U.S. title would be yet another step in her heroic comeback from a devastating training crash just prior to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Cook, who had dominated qualifying for the Salt Lake City team, landed short in a training jump in Lake Placid just weeks before opening ceremonies. It was a horrific injury that took her out of the Games and several more seasons. She came back to make the 2006 Olympic Team. Last month she won her first World Cup in front of 30,000 spectators in Moscow, including President Vladimir Putin.

"I have had such a warm response here in Park City to my Moscow win. I had no idea that so many people actually pay attention!" laughed Cook. "It was such a nice acknowledgment and it makes me feel great that it made so many people happy. It's fun to share such a great experience with so many people and to let them know that their support helped me get there."

Aerials is the opening event of the 2008 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships at the Utah Olympic Park, the training base for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. Cook and her teammates log hundreds and hundreds of training jumps every summer in the nearby splash pool. It's critical training for a sport where precision and danger go hand in hand. That summer training prepares athletes to develop the tricks they'll use on-snow in World Cups.

"This was such an incredible season, and so much fun. To me it was a chance to really be competitive on the World Cup tour and a chance to see if I could cut it with a more advanced set of tricks," said Cook. "Next year I will build even more on that adding yet another more difficult trick. This season has really given me the confidence to know that I can do that. I proved to myself this year that I can hold my own out there with the best. It's been so exciting."

Cook has been building her repertoire of tricks with some increasing degree of difficulty (DD). Ironically, what won for her in Moscow was a more conservative second jump - a strategic move by Cook and coaches to address significant weather issues. Cook actually downgraded her DD on that jump, hit it perfectly and out-pointed the World Cup leaders who chose to gamble on tougher maneuvers.

Cook's second jump, a lay-full including two flips with a twist on the second, was executed nearly perfectly to ensure the win. "We had a huge headwind all day and not enough inrun speed," said Cook. "We were just trying to figure out how to get the speed we needed. I had planned on full-double full-full on the second jump. When I headed up, Matt [Christensen, head coach] said we were still on. But at the top, we decided to be smart and make the wise choice. And it worked."

As happy as Cook was with the win, her fans and supporters were elated. The veteran athlete has long been the leader, spokesperson and, ironically, the Team's biggest fan. For Cook, it's never been about her - it's about her team and teammates. And she thrives at an event like the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships where young skiers take on the best in the world.

"I love being on the hill with all of the younger athletes," she said. "They have such a spirit and energy that is contagious. They are all jumping so well - it's great to see. It's been such a fun year and Park City nationals is the perfect place to finish off the season."

Cook will be putting it all on the line in the championship event Thursday after several great days of training. Her likely combo of jumps will include a full-full (two flips with two twists) plus a full-double full (two flips with three twists).

"I am ready to go!" exclaimed Cook. And, you can be sure she will be.

The championship round begins Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Utah Olympic Park. Admission is free for all Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championship events. Awards are in the Town Lift Plaza at 5:30 p.m., followed by live music, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.



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Old 03-28-2008, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Hudak Favored Friday in U.S. Pipe Champs

PARK CITY, Utah (March 26) - This Friday, 21-year-old Jen Hudak (Park City, UT) will dip her Salomons into the superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort in search of a third straight U.S. title in one of the newest freestyle events, skier halfpipe. Hudak comes into the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships on the heels of her best World Cup season ever with three podiums, including a win in the season finale in Italy.

"Winning in Italy was huge for me," said Hudak. "It was my first World Cup win and was also my first time beating Canadian Sarah Burke. She is an amazing skier, someone who I have looked up to for a long time, and to finally be on the podium above her was an incredible feeling. It just shows that consistency really matters in this game - believing in yourself and never losing faith in yourself are tools for continued success."

Hudak is a superstar in the rapidly growing sport of skier halfpipe. While not yet an Olympic event, it is attracting a growing number of young competitors. Over 50 athletes are registered to compete in halfpipe at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships.

Burke and Hudak squared off in three World Cups this season. The season opened in January in Les Contamines, France where Burke and Hudak went one-two. A month later in Inawashiro Japan, site of next season's FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, Hudak landed her alley-oop 540 but still finished second.

Burke came into the World Cup Finals in Valmalenco undefeated in all competitions. Hudak, meanwhile, had picked up a win of her own in a non-World Cup in Japan just after Inawashiro. "Sarah and I were both coming off really good results," said Hudak. "I definitely caught her on a bad day - she wasn't skiing her best. But I managed to ski consistently well, landing every run that day."

Hudak is a Connecticut native, originally coming out of the Okemo Mountain program in Vermont with coach Elana Chase. She still works with Chase out of the Aspen Valley Ski Club, and lives in Park City.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association added skier halfpipe to its U.S. Championship program two years ago at Killington Mountain Resort in Vermont. Hudak has won the previous two titles and will look to defend in what is now her hometown. "Nationals are in Park City this year which is really exciting being my home town and home resort," she said. "I have a lot of friends around Utah who have never had the opportunity to see me compete, so I will be thrilled to have them all there cheering me on."

While she's dominated the last two years, she knows she has to perform to win. "I have played it fairly conservative the past few years to secure my spot on top," she said. "But that hasn't been my style this year. It has been my mission to impress. Therefore, you will be seeing me in full action mode at this year's championship. I will be doing my cork 5 mute, alley-oop 5 and a 7 mute to end out the run."

Jessica Cumming (Wilton, CT), competing in her first U.S. Championships, will likely be Hudak's strongest challenger. On the men's side, look for David Wise (Reno, NV), reigning U.S. champ with a top 10 World Cup finish this year, along with Jonathan Marks (Boise, ID) to be among the leaders.

Qualifications start at 9:45 a.m. Friday at Park City Mountain Resort, with finals at noon. Awards will be presented at 5:30 p.m. in the Town Lift Plaza on Park City's lower Main Street, where live entertainment and a sponsor village will be featured.



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Old 03-28-2008, 09:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Hudak, Wise Take Third HP Titles

PARK CITY, Utah (March 28) - Jennifer Hudak (Park City, UT) took her skiing to the next level Friday to win her third straight U.S. title in women's skier halfpipe during the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships.

David Wise (Caldwell, ID) also had an incredible three-peat performance, winning the men's U.S. title.

Hudak, who won World Cup finals in Italy earlier this month, threw down a run of straight air mute grab, straight air with a critical, mute, alley-oop, seven to take the top podium spot.

"The pipe was really good today. I took a rough spill this morning on one run and it kind of threw me off, but I did what I had to do in finals and it was a good day," Hudak said. "I'm really happy with the final result. My roots are with the USSA and it means a lot to me to win nationals. This is my third year winning the event and I'd like to keep it that way for many years to come"

Originally from Connecticut, Hudak started freestyle skiing at Okemo Mountain in Vermont working with coach Elana Chase. She still works with Chase out of the Aspen Valley Ski Club, but lives in Park City now.

Gina Gmeiner (Steamboat Springs, CO) followed Hudak in second place, and Jessica Cumming (Wilton, CT) was third.

"It's an amazing pipe and a great venue. My run was alright but I have no complaints. It was a good day," Gmeiner said.

Wise won with a run of big flair, alley-oop flat-spin five, back to back nine left nine, right nine, and big seven.

"I am so stoked, I've been having a great week out here and I've just been having great training runs and feeling it," Wise said. "The pipe was perfect and I couldn't have asked for anything better."

Walter Wood (Evergreen, CO) was second in the men's halfpipe and Kyle Smaine was third.

"The pipe was amazing. It's so big. It's probably one of the best pipes I've skied," Wood said about Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe. "I am so excited, this is one of the best results I've had so far this year. It's a big competition and I'm really happy."

Tanner Hall (Salt Lake City), who's been out for most of the season with injuries, made a special appearance at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships, and even took a couple of runs down the pipe.

"This was sick. I cannot believe the level of competition with these kids up here," Hall said. "Our sport is progressing. Halfpipe skiing is going to be the one to take over and hopefully put it in the Olympics."

Action continues this weekend at Deer Valley Resort with moguls Saturday and dual moguls Sunday, finals for both start at 2:45 p.m. Awards are held nightly through Saturday at the Town Lift Plaza in downtown Park City at 5:30 p.m.

OFFICIAL RESULTS
SPRINT U.S. FREESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Park City, UT - March 28, 2008
Halfpipe

Men
1. David Wise, Caldwell, ID, 48.4
2. Walter Wood, Evergreen, CO, 45.2
3. Kyle Smaine, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 44.3
4. Miles Honens, Orinda, CA, 42.4
5. Clayton Vila, Block Island, RI, 42.1

Women
1. Jennifer Hudak, Park City, UT, 34.2
2. Gina Gmeiner, Steamboat Springs, CO, 30.3
3. Jessica Cumming, Wilton, CT, 28.6
4. Jillian Kazley, Rochester, NY, 25.3
5. Lizzie Seibert, Edwards, CO, 22.9



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