Vail’s Bailey grabs men’s championship
Men's finals results
1 Hunter Bailey, 84.80
2 Emerson Smith, 82.4
3 Joel Hedrick, 82.12
4 Dylan Walczyk, 81.32
5 Ryan Dyer, 81.07
6 Casey Andringa, 80.55
7 Jeremy Cota, 78.21
8 Kalman Heims, 76.80
9 Trevor Norris, 76.45
10 Colby Lee, 75.17
11 Cameron Robinson, 74.07
12 Nick Page, 72.91
13 Holden Largay, 70.37
14 Trevor Wahl, 63.99
15 Landon Wendler, 26.92
16 George McQuinn, DNF
Steamboat Springs — Jeremy Cota certainly had a fan base, and he almost gave those fans something to go crazy over.
The Steamboat Springs skier entered semi-retirement this season, attending college and training only rarely, on a few weekends and during his school spring break. He’d only competed once this winter before this weekend’s U.S. Freestyle National Championships, but things came back quickly once he was on snow again.
Cota was the top qualifier in the men’s field in Friday’s competition, but he couldn’t parlay that into a spot on the podium. Fans cheered and shouted his name as he kicked away from the start, but he had several bobbles in his finals run and slipped to seventh.
Vail skier Hunter Bailey rocked the field with one of the best results of his career, flying to his first nationals podium appearance and his first national championship.
Airs and turns made the difference for Bailey. He was the highest scorer in the field in air, then second in turns. He wasn’t as clean in the morning’s qualifier, finishing with the sixth-best score, but he was on fire in finals.
Emerson Smith was second and Joel Hedrick third.
Steamboat Springs-based U.S. Ski Team athlete Ryan Dyer was fifth, improving upon his qualification run in finals, but not enough to earn another nationals podium.
The biggest surprise for a local skier came from Landon Wendler, only a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School. Competing in his first U.S. National Championships — his first event even close to that level — he was sharp in qualifying and made finals.
He was tripped up by one of the final moguls before the bottom air and fell hard, but that he earned two runs on the day was the headline for local coaches.
“That was a big deal,” Steamboat freestyle director Bobby Aldighieri said. “He’s really coming around as an athlete, really understanding what he needs to do. He skis composed, and he’s a great competitor.”
Among other Steamboat skiers Friday, Tyler Strnad was 30th, and Ben Hoefer was 36th.
The men take the snow again starting at 9:40 a.m. today for dual moguls, the last event of the national championships.
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