U.S. moguls squad eager to start "official" camp


The U.S. freestyle moguls team doesn’t open its official fall camp until Sunday, but most of the team’s athletes have already put in enough unofficial on-snow training to make an impression on new head coach Scott Rawles.
    Rawles accompanied a small group to Zermatt, Switzerland, for a minicamp last month, and about eight skiers participated in another minicamp two weeks ago at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
    "… Everybody’s super-motivated and ready to ski," Rawles said. "Everybody really got after it at that Copper camp."
    The team will likely hold fall camp down the road from Copper and across Berthoud Pass at Winter Park, Colorado.



THE U.S. FREESTYLE MOGULS TEAM
doesn’t open its official fall camp until Sunday, but most of the team’s athletes have already put in enough unofficial on-snow training to make an impression on new head coach Scott Rawles.
    Rawles accompanied a small group to Zermatt, Switzerland, for a minicamp last month, and about eight skiers participated in another minicamp two weeks ago at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
    "We’ve added more [athlete-coach] contact days in the month of November compared to what we usually do, and everybody’s super-motivated and ready to ski," Rawles said. "Everybody really got after it at that Copper camp.
    "Particularly on the men’s side, there’s going to be some opportunities with the number of retirees we’ve had. All those guys have come out and are skiing hard and jumping big and getting after it because I think they sense there’s an opportunity out there and they want a piece of it."  
    If current snow conditions and weather forecasts follow predictions, the team will likely hold fall camp down the road from Copper and across Berthoud Pass at Winter Park, Colorado. Winter Park hosted the event last season, and the mountain’s current man-made snowpack will give the skiers a good feel of what they’ll compete on all season long on the World Cup.
    The World Cup moguls season opens Dec. 14 in Tignes, France. Likely leading the U.S. charge for the men will be reigning world champion Nate Roberts and David Babic, who captured the U.S. moguls title last spring and will start his fourth season on the World Cup. Roberts is still sore from a motorcyle accident in August and missed the team’s summer training camp in Chile, but Rawles liked what he saw from the 24-year-old at Copper Mountain.
    "Nate came back out, and that was the first time he’s skied since February. He looked strong,” Rawles said. "His ribs are still hurting a little bit, but he was really psyched to get back out and start skiing again."   
    Also drawing praise from Rawles for their strong skiing in minicamp were Sho Kashima, Landon Gardner, Tim Preston and David DiGravio, who finished on the podium in a post-Olympic World Cup last year, his first on the team.
    The men will battle for one of six or, at most, seven World Cup starting slots for the December World Cup events. Rawles and his staff will decide which six or seven men and women will earn those slots on Dec. 2, six days into fall camp. The U.S. team gets 12 World Cup starting slots, and the maximum number of competitors the team can start in either gender is seven.
    "We’re going to take the 12 best, most-ready-to-compete, healthiest skiers on December 2nd," Rawles said. "And anybody who doesn’t go, I expect them to step up and at least secure U.S. starts at the [U.S. Ski Team] selection events, which are a couple of weeks after that."
    Park City, Utah, will host the U.S. selection events Dec. 17-22 for qualified skiers from across the country who can earn their way onto the U.S. team. DiGravio won the selection event last season to earn a World Cup start and was later added to the international squad.
    The battle for the World Cup starts on the women’s side should be just as heated. Led by reigning world champion Hannah Kearney — who is looking to rebound from a disappointing Olympic Games — and fellow Olympians Shannon Bahrke, Michelle Roark and Jillian Vogtli, the U.S. women’s team is stacked.
    "Hannah went to Zermatt and did some really great stuff there. She’s pretty motivated and she’s in good shape,” Rawles said. "She went through a lot and learned a lot last year. She’s expecting some good things. I think Shannon Bahrke is definitely back on the road. Basically, she competed at the Olympics one year out from a knee injury and needed more time to recover. She’s done some really good stuff. All the girls have been training hard."   
    Rawles also is eager to get his full coaching staff together for the first time in Colorado. Todd Schirman, who’s been leading preseason camps in Utah, will join Rawles and Garth Hager in Colorado, as will Norwegian import Lasse Fahlen. Fahlen joins Rawles’ staff this year after spending the past 10 years coaching three-time Olympic medalist Kari Traa.
    "We were really lucky to get Lasse,” Rawles said. "He’s really excited, and this is a team he really wanted to come and work with, so I’m excited with the prospects we have on the staff. With as much experience we’re trying to replace with [retired head coach] Donnie [St. Pierre], that was a big call to come up with somebody to fill that role."   
    Rawles said his goal for the fall camp is to have all of his skiers get their competition package “dialed in” for either the World Cup opener or the selection events while also getting used to competition speed on the course.  
    "This summer and through the fall we’ve definitely done more skiing than in the past. It’s going to be interesting to see what the payoff will be from that," Rawles said.  

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