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Freestyle's best prep for steep and deep at Killington


The first day of spring Wednesday brought final preparations for the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships at Killington as aspiring Olympic skiers get set to measure themselves against U.S. Ski Team athletes just back from the freestyle World Championships and the end of the World Cup season.
    Killington reported 34 inches of snow during a weekend storm, further enhancing the snow base for all events. On Outer Limits, the resort's heralded moguls run, snow depths range from 8 to 15 feet, the resort said.
    Competition begins Thursday at Killington for the second straight season, and U.S. coaches are looking for another high-energy set of competitions with enthusiasm from spectators at the same high level as a year ago.
    Due to injury or absence, new champions will be crowned in at least three events this week.

KILLINGTON, Vt. — The first day of spring Wednesday brought final preparations for the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships at Killington as aspiring Olympic skiers get set to measure themselves against U.S. Ski Team athletes just back from the freestyle World Championships and the end of the World Cup season.
    Coaches and course workers at Killington's Bear Mountain made their last adjustments and tweaks to the moguls field on Outer Limits, shaping the aerials kickers and nearby superpipe after a weekend storm covered the competition sites.
    Killington reported 34 inches of snow during a weekend storm, further enhancing the snow base for all events. On Outer Limits, the resort's heralded moguls run, snow depths range from 8 to 15 feet, the resort said.
    Competition begins Thursday at Killington for the second straight season, and U.S. coaches are looking for another high-energy set of competitions with enthusiasm from spectators at the same high level as a year ago.
    New champions will be crowned in at least three events. Vermont's Hannah Kearney (Norwich) is recovering from knee surgery, so there will be a new gold medalist in women's moguls and dual moguls, while Kate Reed, who won the women's aerials title a year ago, is taking this season off.
    Among those defending their championships: local favorite Dave Babic in moguls; aerialist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, who was No. 2 in the World Cup aerials standings this winter); Sho Kashima in dual moguls; Jennifer Hudac and Canadian Scott Hibbert in halfpipe.
    In addition, Nate Roberts — who added a bronze medal in moguls from worlds to his 2005 World Championships title, and highly decorated moguls skier Shannon Bahrke — worlds silver medalist in dual moguls (and 2003 bronze medalist), 2002 Olympic silver medalist, former World Cup champion and four-time U.S. champion — will be adding to the competitive fervor.
    "We had outstanding events a year ago and Killington's done another great job getting the venues ready for some intense competition. This is a big deal, especially for athletes looking to make their way onto the national team," freestyle head coach Jeff Wintersteen said.
    "It's also a big deal for our coaches, who will get to see some development-level skiers they don't normally get to watch during the winter. This is a showcase for those kids."
    The NFL's only two-time ski Olympian and World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom will be on hand Friday to award the Rip It Trick of the Day for the most progressive moguls air package, with the winner receiving $2,500 for his or her athletic performance as well as being showcased on www.totaldistruption.com and highlighted on Versus as part of the regular television broadcast of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships on Sunday, April 1, at 3 p.m. ET. Additional coverage of the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge dual moguls event will follow at 4 p.m.
    All Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships events are at Killington's Bear Mountain.

The schedule:
Thursday — Halfpipe
Friday* — Moguls**
Saturday — Aerials
Sunday — The Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge featuring dual moguls
* – Opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. in nearby downtown Rutland, an autograph signing session and live music
** – Rip It Trick of the Day, $2,500 prize awarded by two-time Olympian and World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom

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