U.S. freestyle worlds team loaded with experience
PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Ski Team announced Friday that it will send 16 athletes, including defending moguls world champion Nate Roberts and nine other athletes with Olympics or World Championships experience, to the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships that run March 6-10 in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
The group includes nine men and seven women. The team also would have included defending women's moguls world champion Hannah Kearney but she is recovering from recent knee surgery, freestyle team program director Polly-Jo Clark said.
"This is an exciting group of athletes and it shows some of the transition the ski team is making in this post-Olympics season," Clark said. "Each of these skiers has shown he or she can compete at the highest level. Nate's the reigning moguls gold medalist, Shannon Bahrke has won Olympics and Worlds medals, Bahrke, 'Speedy' Peterson and Michelle Roark are former World Cup champions, and seven of them have won at least one World Cup contest.
"On the other hand, although several of them are in their first season of full-time World Cup competition, they haven't been intimidated and they've had podiums or top-five results. It's a very strong group and we're looking for continued success in Madonna."
The freestyle championships originally were scheduled for January but the snow drought that affected so much of central Europe forced organizers to postpone the championships into early March.
The scheduled skier halfpipe was canceled due to lack of snow, and no U.S. athletes qualified for skiercross.
"It's been a really challenging snow year for freestyle internationally, Clark said. "Most of our top U.S. ski cross athletes chose to compete in a domestic series rather than international qualifying events. And we were disappointed that conditions were such that the halfpipe could not be held at worlds as we do have athletes qualified to compete."
The 2007 U.S. squad for worlds (date of birth, hometown, Olympics/Worlds experience):
Scott Bahrke, 7/19/85, Tahoe City, Utah
Dylan Ferguson, 8/10/88, Amesbury, Mass.
Jeret Peterson, 12/12/81, Boise, Idaho (2002, '06 Olympics; 2003, '05 worlds)
Ryan St. Onge, 2/7/83, Steamboat Springs, Colo. (2006 Olympics; 2003, '05 worlds)
Dave Babic, 6/13/79, Washington, Vt. (2003, '05 worlds)
Jay Bowman-Kirigin, 6/30/87, Salt Lake City
David Digravio, 11/26/86, Farmington, Maine
Sho Kashima, 11/1/86, Zephyr Cove, Nev.
Nate Roberts, 3/24/82, Park City, Utah (2005 worlds)*
Emily Cook, 7/1/79, Belmont, Mass. (2006 Olympics, 1999, 2001, '05 worlds)
Lacy Schnoor, 6/12/85, Draper, Utah
Shannon Bahrke, 11/7/80, South Lake Tahoe, Calif. (2002, '06 Olympics; 1999, 2001, '03 worlds)
Heather McPhie, 5/28/84, Bozeman, Mont.
Michelle Roark, 11/16/74, Winter Park, Colo. (2006 Olympics; 1999, 2003, '05 worlds)
Shelly Robertson, 4/8/79, Reno, Nev. (2003 worlds)
Jillian Vogtli, 5/26/73, Ellicotville, NY (2002, '06 Olympics; 1997, 2001, '03, '05 Worlds)
* — As defending champion, receives automatic start spot