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FREESTYLE NATIONALS: Peterson, Reed secure national aerials titles

FREESTYLE NATIONALS: Peterson, Reed secure national aerials titles{mosimage}KILLINGTON, Vt. – Jeret ‘Speedy’ Peterson told the crowd at Killington Resort Saturday that there was a hurricane warning in effect. Spoken like a true fortune teller, his forecast came true during aerials competition at the 2006 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships where Peterson threw his signature trick — ‘the Hurricane’ (three flips and five twists) — and won the second U.S. aerials title of his career.

Kate Reed found vindication at Killington, capturing her first U.S. title and a huge boost of confidence after she narrowly missed making the 2006 Olympic team.

‘Having a victory today is awesome’ said Reed, 22. ‘I had a rough season, so this was a great way to end the year. I had great training at every event I went to this year, but then I would have really tough competitions. It was an Olympic year, and that was always in the back of my mind to the point where it started to affect my performance.’

Reed said she put too much pressure on herself, thinking each event was a chance to qualify for the Olympics. Then time started running out. With only one shot left, Reed finished 13th at the World Cup in Lake Placid before the Games. It wasn’t enough. She watched teammates Emily Cook and Jana Lindsey pack their bags for Italy and the Games. She packed her swimsuit and headed to Mexico.

The beach vacation was just the break Reed needed to reset her focus and remind herself why she loves to jump. Simply put, said Reed, ‘I’m a competitor. I love to compete. I gave myself the chance to remember that’s why I’m out here.’

She decided she would finish off the season with a World Cup competition in Davos, Switzerland, where she posted her first top 10 of the season. Then came Saturday’s U.S. title-winning performance. She threw a back full-full (two flips, two twists) followed by a back lay-full (two flips, one twist) to score 160.43 over Lindsey, who finished second with 149.89.

‘I finally feel like my old self, with my old mind-set’ Reed explained. ‘It was great to jump without that feeling of ‘I have to qualify for the Olympics.’ I’ve definitely broken down some barriers for myself in the last month and that will go a long way in the future.’

For Peterson, U.S. championships were a bit of a watershed moment. After a monthlong break from competing or training, he came to Killington with the intention of ‘having fun.’ But that wasn’t all.

‘I wanted to prove to myself I have what it takes’ said Peterson, whose back full-triple full-full carries the hardest degree of difficulty of any trick in an aerialist’s arsenal. He threw it in Torino but came up short, touching back on his landing and finishing seventh.

His clean landing Saturday scored him a whopping 125.67 points — a huge score that propelled him nearly 40 points ahead of teammates Ryan St. Onge and Eric Bergoust, who finished second and third, respectively. Peterson said he did not come to nationals with intentions to throw the Hurricane, and in fact, he said he performed the jump itself better in Torino, but was rewarded Saturday thanks to his clean landing.

‘He is a special athlete’ said head aerials coach Matt Christensen. ‘Jeret is super talented and super confident, and it’s that talent that allows him to perform the way he does.’

The 2006 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships conclude Sunday with dual moguls.

- USSA

2006 SPRINT U.S. FREESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS
KILLINGTON RESORT, Vermont
MARCH 25, 2006
AERIALS
MEN
1. Jeret Peterson, Boise, Id., 250.86
2. Ryan St. Onge, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 211.73
3. Eric Bergoust, Missoula, Mont., 201.53
4. Tim Massuco, Park City, Utah, 175.86
5. Austin Cummings, Heber City, Utah, 175.42

WOMEN
1. Kate Reed, Montrose, Colo., 160.43
2. Jana Lindsey, Black Hawk, S.D., 149.89
3. Emily Cook, Belmont, Mass., 142.55
4. Sharlee Strebel, Layton, Utah, 137.02
5. Jaime Myers, Boise, Id., 130.63

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