U.S. Ski Team competing in Steamboat this weekend
Steamboat Springs — Freestyle skier Ryan Riley was busy on Wednesday attempting to figure out the World Cup course at the Steamboat Ski Area.
“I felt like I skied well, but I’m going to change a few things tomorrow,” Riley said as he headed up the lift one last time to take one last look at the course before the first day of official training closed.
“Every course is a little different and you have to ski every course differently,” Riley said. “Things change a lot from the first day of training until the first day of competition.”
Riley was just one of a handful of skiers in this week’s events that have roots here in Steamboat Springs. Riley attended Lowell Whiteman School and trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club before he was named to the U.S. Team four years ago.
Other famous Winter Sports Club alumni who were on hand trying to get a feel for the Sprint U.S. Grand National course Wednesday included Olympian Ann Battelle, Emiko Torito, Travis Mayer, Mike Friedberg and Australian skier Manuela Berchtold.
“It’s a pretty good course,” Battelle said of the venue at the Park Smalley Freestyle Complex. “I haven’t skied that much this year, so I just want to get on snow as much as possible.”
Battelle is recovering from a pulled hamstring that has bothered her the past three months. She returned to snow for the first World Cup moguls event in Tignes, France on Dec. 1 when she placed a disappointing 22nd. Battelle said that she felt good after Wednesday’s training session and is looking forward to competing in her former hometown this week.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Battelle said of skiing in Steamboat. “I still know a lot of people here and I have a lot of friends who want to see me do well hopefully they will still be my friend even if I don’t ski well.”
Battelle skied in a World Cup event in Steamboat two years ago and collected a bronze medal. She will be looking for a similar showing on Friday.
“In Tignes, I lost a lot of my competitiveness and aggression,” Battelle said. “My goal this week is to get that back. I’ve been a little tentative and I need to start trusting in myself and my body.”
Torito, another former Lowell Whiteman student, can relate to the pressure Battle feels skiing in Steamboat. Torito also will be skiing in Steamboat this week after placing well at the selection events in Winter Park and earning a nod from U.S. coaches.
“It’s great to be back in Steamboat,” Torito said. “I’m just really excited to be here.”
After the World Cup, Torito will most likely return to the NorAm circuit. But she is thankful for this World Cup start and is hoping to make the most of it, she said.
American mogul coach Don St. Pierre was happy with the condition of the course on Voo Doo and is expecting skiers to be challenged in Friday and Saturday’s events.
The coach said he was happy with the training session on Wednesday and believes his team will be competitive this week.
The skiers will be back out on the course today for another training session. The first event of the Grand Nationals will take place Friday.
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