|PARK CITY, Utah (Feb. 1) - "It's still a work in progress, but I know I'm going in the right direction. I'm more confident and comfortable in my jumps," she said. Dylan Ferguson (Amesbury, MA) reached his first finals to lead the U.S. men's squad, finishing 11th.World champion Nina Li of China won the women's event with 199.16 points to 194.87 for World Cup leader Jacqui Cooper of Australia. Cook, 11th in the morning qualifying during a light snowstorm, had 171.53 after clicking with a full, double-full (three twists, two flips). Jana Lindsey (Black Hawk, SD), the other U.S. woman to reach finals, was ninth.|
photo Lindsey Sine US Ski Team
It's always a work in progress," Cook said. "I'm always just working on the process, trying to make every jump better. That last jump happens to be a comp jump often, so it's all about the training but, at the same time, it becomes a bigger deal when it's in a competition."
Cook, who lost 2-1/2 seasons after shattering both feet in a training jump shortly before the 2002 Olympics, is back this season after being sidelined much of the 2007 season. She was limited to three competitions a year ago - a World Cup, the World Championships and the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships (where she won her second national aerials title). Friday night's event was her third event of the '08 season.
"I'm glad to be back in the mix. Last year was a pretty slow year," she said. "For me, it's all about consistency right now - being in the gate every week, completing the tricks that are going to be competitive every week, and putting in 100 percent every week. And every week we're one step closer to Vancouver [and the 2010 Olympics] and being back on the podium."
Stanislav Kravchuk of the Ukraine was the men's winner on the opening day of the Visa Freestyle International. He had 226.85 points with Russian Valdimir Lebedev runner-up in 223.21. Fergson, the only U.S. man among the top 12 in qualifying, had 179.98. Scotty Bahrke (Park City, UT), Zac Amidan (Ogden, UT) and Ryan St. Onge (Winter Park, CO) had problems with their landing in the qualifying round.
Aerials Head Coach Matt Christensen and Coach Brian Currutt lowered the nighttime start for the U.S. skiers from the morning qualification round. The snowy and windy qualifying run meant athletes found slow snow; at night, the in-run glazed and would have meant too much speed and unsafe jumping conditions if they jumped from the same start.
photo Lindsey Sine US Ski Team
"It was much too fast," Christensen said. "You could really see the track icing up in the lights, and we said, 'Okay, it's getting fast.' You really noticed it in the men's event because they weren't landing. That was all speed issues."
He praised Cook's showing and said they made a goal to do her full, double-full in every World Cup, regardless of conditions so she got more confident in attempting it. "I'm more comfortable and more confident every week," she said.
The Rip It Trick of the Day, honoring the most progressive jump of the competition, was awarded to Cooper for her full, full, full (triple twist, triple flip); she is the only woman competing regularly with a tri-le-twisting jump. She received $2,500.
2008 FIS FREESTYLE WORLD CUP
Visa Freestyle International
Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge Aerials No. 2
Deer Valley Resort
Park City, UT - Feb. 1, 2008
Women's Aerials (12 made finals)
1. Nina Li, China, 199.16
2. Jacqui Cooper, Australia, 194.87
3. Shuang Cheng, China, 188.75
4. Emily Cook, Belmont, MA, 171.53
5. Alla Tsuper, Belarus, 167.09
9. Jana Lindsey, Black Hawk, SD, 153.06
14. Jaime Myers, Boise, ID
18. Allison Treleaven, Fort Wayne, IN
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– but the sailors praise the new boats