World Cup season opens tomorrow with Mt. Buller aerials

World Cup season opens tomorrow with Mt. Buller aerials{mosimage}The freestyle World Cup season opens September 4-5 with the traditional double-aerials weekend at Mount Buller Ski Area. Four U.S. men will be competing with Ryan St. Onge (Steamboat Springs, Colorado) looking like a solid contender, according to Aerials Head Coach Matt Christensen.

In addition to St. Onge, reigning U.S. champion Jeret “Speedy” Peterson (Boise, Idaho), 2002 Olympic silver medalist Joe Pack (Park City, Utah) and Eric Bergoust (Missoula, Montana), who has won four times Down Under, complete the U.S. entries. The first World Cup events of the 2005 season are set for Saturday and Sunday at what has become the traditional early season opening venue.

“I think we’ll see something big from Ryan,” Christensen said. “He’s been jumping so well and it’s time for a breakthrough. He’s got so much talent … and I think he’ll do well at Buller.”

He added, “We’ve added an outstanding training period and the guys are ready to get into competition. We’ve had good results in Buller and we’re looking for podiums this time, too. It’s going to be an interesting weekend.”

After the opening day of training Monday, coaches and organizers rebuilt the jumps at Mount Buller as athletes continued acclimating themselves after the long travel Down Under. “This is a very big deal for Buller,” the coach said, noting the World Cups are televised live each day. The forecast is for continued good weather into the weekend.

In addition to their dryland training and strength workouts, U.S. aerialists practice jumping into the splash pool at Utah Olympic Park, which has been used for the last few years by the Australian team – including Olympic and World Championships gold medalist and World Cup champion Alisa Camplin, as well. The Americans’ preseason also has included a rigorous week-long dryland camp in San Diego, which included a couple of days of team-building exercises with Navy SEALs members, which left athletes and coaches glowing … and anxious to get into their two-year buildup for the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy.

After the opening weekend, aerialists go into a break until the schedule resumes Dec. 18 in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. However, with the World Cup standings now based on all results – athletes could drop certain results until the 2004 season, Christensen said it was important not to skip the opening events.

In a related matter, Christensen said Kate Reed (Montrose, Colorado) had qualified a second triple-twisting jump “and that’s going to make her even more of a contender this season. Qualifying two triples was what Kate’s been aiming for, and she’s accomplished it … and now she’s going to polish it for the season,” he said.



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