U.S. aerials team relieved about Mount Buller cancellation


U.S. aerials team relieved about Mount Buller cancellation{mosimage}The U.S. aerials team isn’t too broken up about the cancellation of the opening 2006-07 World Cup aerials event at Mount Buller, Australia. The event, scheduled for Sept. 2-3, was cancelled due to lack of snow.

Although the U.S. team has historically done very well at the venue (last season, Jeret Peterson took gold and Joe Pack bronze in the first competition and Ryan St. Onge and Eric Bergoust went 1-2 the second day), freestyle program officials say the cancellation will allow their athletes to have more time to focus on valuable training.

“It was a relief,” U.S. freestyle coach Matt Christensen said of the cancellation. “I think it’s a great event. It’s great we go down there, but it really breaks up the summer. I’d like to focus more on training.”

Christensen was planning on bringing just two U.S. athletes to the competition — St. Onge and Emily Cook. He said the two are the only members of the team that would have been ready for competition and that the national aerials team features a young group this season.

Those who have been training with the team this summer include Cook, Jill Priest, Kelly Hellerman, Jana Lindsey, Jaime Myers and Lacy Schnoor on the women’s side and St. Onge, Scott Bahrke, Zac Amidan, Tim Massucco and Austin Cummings. A couple of mainstays — Bergoust and Pack — retired after last season, and Peterson has taken the summer off from training.

With the cancellation of the Mount Buller events, the first World Cup aerials competitions won’t be until Dec. 9 and 10 in China, with the venue yet to be determined.

“We started everything two or three weeks later than usual this summer,” Christensen said. “It’s a big year after the Olympics and we have a new, younger team. I’d like to focus more on preparation and conditioning camps.”

Christensen said that despite his team’s history of success at Buller, the weather and conditions there have often been poor with high winds and thin snow, and that several World Cup teams typically bow out of the event anyway.

“It’s a difficult event always, in terms of timing,” said U.S. Freestyle Program Director Polly Jo Clark. “It’s odd to be training on water ramping and make the transition to snow. Still, the Australians are great partners and it’s disappointing they can’t get it done. It’s disappointing the athletes will lose the opportunity to get on snow. But we were just sending a small crew out there anyway.”

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