Olympic men’s aerials training runs go smoothly
February 21, 2010
CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BRITISH COLUMBIA — It would seem that the Olympics are nothing new for Lowell Whiteman School graduate Ryan St. Onge, but he will tell you that's not the case.
It was business as usual for the U.S. Ski Team veteran Thursday, and he worked to fine-tune his full-double-full-full and double-full-full-full jumps in front of an empty freestyle aerial venue at Cypress Mountain. He looked calm and relaxed as he prepared for his second Olympic appearance. But all that could change Monday night, when the best athletes in the world compete for a shot at a medal in the men's aerial qualification inside what is expected to be a packed venue at Cypress. The event starts at 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.
"The whole Olympic experience has been incredible," St. Onge said after training. "This is my second Olympics. I've been to Torino, and this Olympics is entirely different — I'm enjoying every single bit about it. We just started training two days ago, and the site is incredibly good for how much work and how difficult the conditions are."
For the past several weeks, crews at the mountain venue have been busy preparing for these events. On TV, the venue might appear to be in midwinter form, but the truth is that most of the snow at Cypress was trucked or flown in by helicopter from higher peaks. The base is built on bales of hay with PVC piping filled with dry ice to chill the snow on the surface. The snow's so sugary that crews spray it with water so it will hold to the steep area of the landing hill.
"The hill crew and the people in charge are doing an awesome job of putting it together and getting it on," St. Onge said. "Everybody is really excited to come compete."
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St. Onge isn't worried about the conditions or even his actual performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He simply is focused on making his jumps.
"I'm a very jump-oriented person. I want to do nice jumps. I don't really focus on results, and I don't look at what I can do, and that has never been a problem in the past. When I do nice jumps, I usually win," he said. "I showed up here wondering how the site is going to be, wondering how the conditions are going to be, and they are definitely good enough to do really nice jumps. I just need to test myself and see what I can come up with."
St. Onge said he spent the first few days of the Olympics inside the village absorbing the sights, sounds and feelings that occur only once every four years. He said it was a chance to see and hang out with past and current Olympians — many of whom he considers his heroes.
"My Olympic heroes, if you put them up there, they were at the Olympic Village," St. Onge said. "It was pretty cool."
But he said the aerialists moved into the venue housing a few days ago and are trying to stay away from the hype associated with the games.
The veterans on the U.S. team took about five jumps in Thursday's practice session, but it was clear that coaches were trying to get Scotty Bahrke up to speed in time for Monday's two-jump qualification.
Bahrke was added to the roster to replace Dylan Ferguson, who had complications from a recent appendectomy and will not be able to compete in next week's events. St. Onge, Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, Bahrke and Matt DePeters will represent the U.S. Olympic Team on Monday.
"If there is any other guy I want on my team, it's Scotty Bahrke," St. Onge said. "He's definitely got the jumps to be here at the Olympics, and it will be great to see what he can do."
Jeff Winterstein, head U.S. freestyle coach, also was happy with Thursday's training and said he thinks the team is on track for Monday's qualifying.
"Everything went well," Winterstein said. "Our guys got up to difficulty with what they are going to do in semifinals. … It has been good."
The coach said it was unfortunate that Ferguson would not be able to compete, but he's confident that Bahrke will fill in nicely.
"We had Bahrke up and he jumped for the first time," Winterstein said Thursday. "He did doubles tonight. He took a lot of jumps to get used to the venue, and we will have him up to speed by competition day."