Olympic hopefuls look for wins at Sprint | SteamboatToday.com

Olympic hopefuls look for wins at Sprint

— This week’s Sprint U.S. Grand Nationals are a sort of homecoming for Australian skier Manuela Berchtold.

Berchtold was a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s freestyle program from


“I came to Steamboat Springs to train with (then) head coach Park Smalley,” Berchtold said. “It was great. I love Steamboat and I love it when I get a chance to come back.”

This week Berchtold and her brother Andrea, who also trained with the Steamboat team for several years, came back to Steamboat Springs as members of their native Australian national team.

Both skiers will be looking for top finishes at this week’s Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National World Cup events in order to secure the needed requirements for a Olympic berth to Salt Lake City this February.

“These World Cups are important for everyone,” Berchtold said. “We’ve been training here for the last two weeks and I’m really looking forward to the start of the competition on Friday.”

Berchtold has been working on a new trick of the top air (a 360 degree helicopter) and she is hoping it will pay off with high scores from the judges.

“I think I’ve just about got it nailed, so I’ll give it a try and see what happens.”

Berchtold was a disappointing 24th in the World Cup opener in Tignes, France, earlier this month. She is hoping to improve her finish this week in both the singles and dual event here in Steamboat.

But regardless of her finish, Berchtold was just glad she got a chance to return to Steamboat Springs even if it was just for a couple of weeks.

“We’ve been here for about 10 days and it has been great,” Berchtold said. “I still have a lot of friends here and it’s been great to see them all again.”

The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National will kick off today with the mogul event on the Voo Doo ski run at the Steamboat Ski Area,

The event will kick off with training from 8:40 to 9:40 a.m. Forerunners will take the course at 9:50 a.m. and competition kicks off at 10 a.m. The finals are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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