Steamboat to play host to U.S. Freestyle team |

Steamboat to play host to U.S. Freestyle team

— Utah may be the home of the 2002 Winter Oylmpic Games, but that will not keep the steep- pitched slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area from hosting the U.S. Freestyle team in January.

“We have been working on a deal to bring the freestyle team here for a pre-Olympic training camp since December of last year,” said Andy Wirth, vice president of marketing for the Steamboat Ski Area. “This is a part of our heritage and we want to keep that heritage right here in Steamboat Springs.”

Wirth said he expected to seal the deal last Friday that will make the Steamboat Ski Area the site of the freestyle team’s only pre-Olympic training camp.

“It’s great for Steamboat and for the U.S. Freestyle team,” former coach Jeff Good said. “The team knows what a great venue Steamboat has and they know that their athletes will be comfortable here during their last training camp before the Olympics.'”

Good said locals will have a chance to watch many of the World’s top freestyle skiers going through their final preparation for the Olympics.

He said the skiers will be fine tuning the same runs they will use at the Deer Valley venue in February.

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The camp will also bring a lot of media attention to Steamboat as athletes film a few last-minute interviews before the Winter Games officially start. Wirth expects many of the fireside chats, that are used by television networks during the Olympics to be filmed here in Steamboat.

Wirth said that while that side of the deal is attractive to the Ski Area, the company’s main objective is to offer a place where athletes can train and Steamboat’s Olympic tradition can continue to grow.

Good believes the slopes and jumps of the Park Smalley Freestyle complex will be a great place for the U.S. athletes to build confidence.

“The venue is as close to Deer Valley (where the freestyle events will be held) as you can get without actually being there,” Good said.

Another plus is that the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area will host a World Cup event in December and the site is the closest World Cup, at least in miles, to the Olympic venue.

Good said the conditions in Steamboat will also be closer to those of Park City than any of the other January World Cup stops. Those events which will be held in the Eastern United States and Canada feature rock hard snow and flat pitches.

Steamboat’s steeper terrain and softer snow should be a good place to prepare for the conditions in Utah.

The camp will be held the week prior to the start of the Winter Games and will be the last chance for athletes to prepare.

“They will not be doing any mock competitions or anything like that,” Good said. “They may spend the day working off of the bottom air or try skiing at different times of the day to simulate the different skiing conditions that will be present at the Olympics .”

The team is expected to come to Steamboat for six days for the training camp. Steamboat is also expected to host the U.S. Nordic Combined team in January.

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