STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO (Oct. 12) - U.S freestyle and nordic combined athletes will get a one shot, winner-takes-all chance at making the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team as the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) host the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Steamboat Springs Dec. 23-24. A total of five U.S. Olympic Team spots in moguls, aerials and nordic combined will be up for grabs on those two days in Steamboat-Ski Town, U.S.A. ®.
Scheduled to air on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 26, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials event, which complements the season-long selection process for the remainder of the Team, offers athletes a direct ticket to the Games should they be skilled enough to win against a field of the nation's best. The format dates back to 1998 with a similar event held just prior to the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games, and a freestyle only event in Steamboat prior to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Nordic combined is being added for the first time this season.
"The Steamboat community takes great pride in its hometown winter Olympians and has been a hotbed of athletic development in nordic combined and freestyle skiing over the years," said USSA Vice President, Events, Calum Clark. "It will be great to bring the best athletes in the country to Ski Town USA to compete in front of an enthusiastic and supportive crowd."
"Freestyle and nordic combined skiing always has been, and remain at the heart of Steamboat’s claim to Ski Town USA," said Andy Wirth, senior vice president of sales & marketing for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation and president of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC). "The Winter Sports Club, Ski Area and entire community are excited to be hosting the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials."
"The USOC welcomes the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and the the city of Steamboat Springs to offer this unique winner-take-all event,” said USOC Chief of Sport Performance Mike English. “These Trials will capture all the thrill and excitement that comes with making Team USA and should prove to be a great holiday present for all ski enthusiasts."
The likes of World Champions and hometown heroes Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane (both Steamboat Springs, CO) as well as World Champion and former Steamboat resident Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) will each look for a wildcard spot on the U.S. Olympic Team prior to the official team selection. The combined events will be held at Steamboat's historic Howelsen Hill in the heart of the city and home to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
"It will be great to have a high quality competition that will showcase nordic combined in Steamboat again, because it's been absent from here for a long time. Any opportunity to have a televised Nordic combined competition in Steamboat is great," Lodwick said.
After the nordic combined competition, the Trials moves to the moguls event on the afternoon of Dec. 23 at nearby Steamboat Resort. World Cup moguls champion Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT), Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) and moguls World Champion Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, WA), local favorite Emiko Torito (Denver, CO) and their teammates will all be going after their shot at being named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team.
"As a graduate of Whiteman and a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, I feel so much affection for Steamboat," Torito said. "It is the place where I believe I blossomed as a skier. Timmy Maher makes the best courses, and I can't wait to see some of my old friends, coaches, and teachers. There is no better place to have the Olympic Trials than Steamboat Springs."
The party continues after the awards are made on Dec. 23 with a night of live music and celebration in the heart of the mountain village.
The event wraps up on Christmas Eve morning as Colorado native, SSWSC athlete and aerials World Champion Ryan St. Onge (Winter Park, CO), Olympian and executor of the highest scored trick on the World Cup aerials circuit Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (Boise, ID) and World Cup winner and U.S. Ski Team veteran Emily Cook (Belmont, MA) fly, flip and stick their chance at landing a place on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team.
"Going home to compete in Colorado is always my favorite," St. Onge said. "We don't get to compete there very often, so it's a unique experience for me. I'm going back there to win. The last time I competed in Colorado I won, so hopefully I can do it again."
The full 2010 U.S. Olympic Teams for freestyle and nordic combined will be determined primarily from season-long World Cups and will be named in January.
2010 U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM TRIALS - FREESTYLE SKIING/NORDIC COMBINED EVENTS
(actual start times TBD)
Dec. 23, 2009
Morning - Nordic Combined, Howelsen Hill
Afternoon - Men's and Women's Moguls, Steamboat Resort
Evening - Concert and Celebration
Dec. 24, 2009
Morning - Men's and Women's Aerials, Steamboat Resort