Three U.S. freestyle skiers win FIS top rookie awards


For the first time in history, three members of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team have been named Rookie of the Year by the FIS, taking three out of four possible awards. Claiming the Crystal Cup trophies are Scotty Bahrke for men's aerials, Jay Bowman-Kirigin for men's moguls and Heather McPhie for women's moguls.
    "This shows that we're doing really well with development," U.S. freestyle head coach Jeff Wintersteen said. "We don't go into each season looking to win rookie of the year awards, we just want to help develop solid skiers and when our athletes win these awards, it shows we're on the right track."
PARK CITY, Utah — For the first time in history, three members of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team have been named Rookie of the Year by the FIS, taking three out of four possible awards. Claiming the Crystal Cup trophies are Scotty Bahrke for men's aerials, Jay Bowman-Kirigin for men's moguls and Heather McPhie for women's moguls.
    "This shows that we're doing really well with development," U.S. freestyle head coach Jeff Wintersteen said. "We don't go into each season looking to win rookie of the year awards, we just want to help develop solid skiers and when our athletes win these awards, it shows we're on the right track."
    All three were members of the 2007 FIS Freestyle World Championships team and competed in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. To get there, Bahrke opened 2007 with an eighth-place finish at the Mont Gabriel, Quebec World Cup on Jan. 7, then went on to win two NorAm events.
    "I'm very excited, this is probably the greatest honor I've had in the sport so far — so it feels pretty good. This is my seventh year doing aerials and I'm starting to do some bigger tricks so I can try and jump with the big guys," said Bahrke after receiving the award in Madonna di Campiglio.
    Bowman-Kirigin lit the World Cup on fire at Inawashiro, Japan — site of the 2009 World Championships — taking second in moguls and fourth in dual moguls in mid-February before moving into both the World Championships and Junior Worlds the following week, where he was on the podium in both moguls and dual moguls. It was his second straight year of taking two medals home from Junior Worlds.
    McPhie opened the season with a sixth in moguls at the Mont Gabriel World Cup, followed by a near podium finish with fourth in Deer Valley. She then went on to scorch the World Championships with top 10 finishes in both moguls and dual moguls.
    "These three definitely deserve the praise," added Wintersteen. "Aerials is tough, you got to be so tight to compete with the top guys and Scotty worked his butt off to get up there this year. We didn't even name him to the team and he earned his spot through selection events [U.S. freestyle ski team selections are held every December], that's how hard he worked and Jay is just a natural talent, we saw that this summer at training camps and he proved it on the World Cup this season.
    "Heather has just been knocking on the door for a while, but just wouldn't put it down. Then she did two World Cups with us last year and really shined, so we gave her some more shots and she ran with it."
    Wintersteen also credited the U.S. coaching staff with keeping the Team at such a high level. "This was a rebuilding year for sure, we lost a lot of top athletes after the Olympics and everyone did such a good job a keeping up the intensity. We're really proud of what was accomplished not just by the rookies, but by the entire team and staff."
    The competitive Freestyle season officially closes following the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships, which open Thursday and run through Sunday in Killington, Vermont.

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