|PARK CITY, Utah (March 27) - Emily Cook (Belmont, MA), led both women's rounds to win her third U.S. title. Competition was delayed nearly two hours while a raging blizzard passed through the Utah Olympic Park in Park City.|
Women's Aerial Awards, (l-r) Allison Treleaven (2), Emily Cook (1), Jana Lindsey (3) Town Lift Plaza, Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships, aerials, Utah Olympic Park. Photo: Tom Kelly/U.S. Ski Team
Cook, meanwhile, was solid on both jumps to hold off a challenge from FIS World Cup Rookie of the Year Allison Treleaven (Ft. Wayne, IN) to take gold. Olympian Jana Lindsey (Black Hawk, SD) was third. Cook scored 175.53 to 151.10 for Treleaven. Lindsey came in at 143.65.
Cook Solid Start to Finish for Third Title
Cook was smooth and solid on both jumps. She started off with her traditional full-full, two back flips with a twist on each flip. And she finished off her season nailing a full-double full, a triple twisting double back flip new to her repertoire this season.
"It's exciting to be rewarded for a good performance," said Cook. "I knew I jumped my best out there today. I'm really happy about that. Two national titles in a row, that's really exciting. I hope I can keep it going for next year."
It was a great homecoming for Cook, who moved from Massachusetts to Park City some years ago and is a mentor to many young athletes.
"It's been an amazing season and to come out here to one of our home venues in Park City and have all our friends and family out here is so great," she said. "It's also cool to be up there with a lot of the younger athletes. All of them are vying for their U.S. Ski Team starts here. It's a really important competition for them and we take it very seriously. We have so much fun too. It was a great event today."
Treleaven moved up from fourth last year to score her first U.S. Championship medal. "My first jump was a full-tuck and my second was a lay-tuck," she said. "Both felt pretty good and had solid landings. They were pretty big so I was happy with them."
Her silver capped a strong season, which "Right now I'm just taking it all in," she said. "It was a long season but a really fun and successful season. I'm really happy and this is a great way to finish."
Weather Provides Big Challenge
A morning snow squall delayed training, resulting in a later start. At times there was no visibility to the top and athletes never had a shot at training on the huge, towering triple kicker. So jumps were limited to double flips for the competition.
"The weather was really tricky today," said Cook. "We had snow and wind and it's hard to gauge where to start and what your speeds were going to be. We rely a lot on our coaches, who did an amazing job to help us decide where to start. It probably was a good experience for the younger athletes too. We always have [weather] conditions. It's great to come out here throw my biggest tricks in difficult conditions and end up on the podium."
"Unfortunately I couldn't do the new trick I worked," said St. Onge. "I would have really liked to have better weather today to do bigger tricks, go higher and stick some triple flips. But it wasn't safe up there and everybody agreed doubles was going to be a better event.
"It's always frustrating when you can't perform the tricks you love to do. But it was a good fun event for me and I'm really happy I won."
The strong, but inconsistent, tailwind provided a challenge. The coaches on the knoll had their work cut out for them ensuring their atheltes' speeds on the inrun were accurate going into the towering jumps. "Our coaches had us all set up today with the winds and it turned out to be great," said Treleaven.
Breakout Day for Young Skiers
It was a big day for the Waterville Valley (NH) freestyle program with three top fives, including an impressive bronze for DePeters, who was tenth in the World Junior Championships in 2007. It was his first U.S. Championships medal, moving up from sixth last year. He was joined by Waterville Valley skiers Hans Gardner (Orchard Park, NY), who was fourth, and Ashley Caldwell (Hamilton, VA), who was fourth in women's.
"I didn't have any real expectations, I just wanted to come in and hit my jumps," said DePeters. "I'm really happy - it's a new PR [personal record] score for me. To get third at nationals feels really good. It finishes off a nice season and hopefully I'll get a national ski team spot. We're all friends out there but to be ahead of a couple of the Team guys feels pretty good - like you're ready to ski at that level and be up there with them."
DePeters and Gardner are both Buffalo area natives who ski and train with the Buffalo Ski Club and have been longtime participants in the Waterville Valley program of Nick Preston. "These are really great athletes," said Preston. "And I'm especially excited about Ashley Caldwell, who just turned 14."
"It was nice to see some of the new kids from the regions," said U.S. Ski Team Aerial Head Coach Matt Christensen. "That was really good for me to see. I was pretty excited. Nick Preston and his son Wes have always had a really strong aerials program. They're [coaching] who we're looking at."
"I had the opportunity to work with [Matt DePeters] for the first time at World Juniors last year. When I saw him jump, I knew he was going to be good. He showed it today and that was really good to see."
Sprint Championship Action Continues All Weekend
Action will continue Friday with skier halfpipe at Park City Mountain Resort. Finals begin at noon. Action will shift to Deer Valley Resort with moguls Saturday and dual moguls Sunday, both at 2:45 p.m. Awards are held nightly through Saturday in the Town Lift Plaza in downtown Park City at 5:30 p.m.
SPRINT U.S. FREESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Park City, UT - March 27, 2008
1. Emily Cook, Belmont, MA, 175.53
2. Allison Treleaven, Ft. Wayne, IN, 151.10
3. Jana Lindsey, Black Hawk, SD, 143.65
4. Ashley Caldwell, Hamilton, VA, 115.86
5. Karen Kiczek, Park City, UT, 98.28
6. Sami Palmer, Sandy, UT, 95.72
7. Erica Knell, Park City, UT, 86.97
8. Lindsay Mustard, Mt. Kisco, NY, 82.37
9. Amy David, Pinedale, WY, 77.50
10. Ellison McMillan, Erda, UT, 70.10