Warm weather forces changes for freestyle championships | SteamboatToday.com

Warm weather forces changes for freestyle championships

— Warm weather and an early spring have defined the last month in Steamboat Springs, and those conditions have forced officials running the U.S. Freestyle Skiing Championships at Steamboat Ski Area to alter the event’s schedule to allow athletes the best possible conditions.

There's been one major change so far: bumping the start of the event up one day, from Thursday to Friday. The qualification round for women's individual moguls will be bumped to Thursday.

That event will begin at 12:10 p.m. The men's qualification round will remain on Friday and begin at 10:15 a.m. The women's finals, with the top 16 skiers in a 70-skier field, will start at 2 p.m. Friday, with the men's moguls, including 16 of 75 athletes, to follow immediately.

The course, on Voodoo Run on the lower slopes of Mount Werner, was plowed clean and rebuilt earlier this month. Keeping it in like-new shape has been a challenge, however.

"It hasn't been easy," said Bobby Aldighieri, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle director.

He said the club has athletes and coaches spread far and wide, at both junior national champion and junior world championship events. That's left precious few people in Steamboat to perform the required course maintenance.

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A handful of athletes who plan to compete, or even win, the event this weekend took up shovels this week, including Jeremy Cota, Ryan Dyer, Lane Stoltzner and Sophia Schwartz.

"They've put in more work than I would have preferred helping get the course in good shape," Aldighieri said. "I'd have rather they just do training, then come home and rest and recover, but they're doing whatever they need to do. They're really motivated, and the course is in great shape at this point."

Shifting the schedule is an effort to keep it that way. Rather than have nearly nearly 200 competition runs on the course all on Friday, about a third of those will be moved to Thursday.

Men's and women's aerials competitions will follow at 11 a.m. Saturday, and dual moguls will wrap the event up starting at 9:10 a.m. Sunday.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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