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U.S. Freestyle Team: Eric Bergoust


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Missoula, Montana

Aerialist Bergoust has won it all: Olympic gold, World Championships gold, Goodwill Games gold, the overall World Cup title, 11 individual World Cup firsts, and two U.S. Championships. He holds the three highest scores in aerial history. Bergoust also has devoted himself to designing better jumping sites and revolutionary techniques for jumping.

Royal treatment:
“In Montana I get picked up in ’78 Chevy pickup trucks. Then I go to New York and I’m in a cool black Town Car and they’re giving me bottles of water every five minutes. In Montana it’s like, ‘Sorry the air conditioning isn’t working. Hope you’re not sweating too much over there.'”

Best thing about being a World Cupper:
“I used to spend hours building my own jump and it was always a piece of junk. It would take me all day to build and I’d have to wait for the next day before I could jump on it. Now I show up at a site and I have this huge kicker, the inrun is smooth and flat, and I have a speed trap with a radar gun checking my speed. I have a coach on the knoll, I have an EMT at the bottom of the hill, and I have someone up in the judge’s tower videotaping me. I have a guy at the top of the hill with a radio down to my coach telling me what I need to work on. I have a lift back to the top of the jump and I have anywhere from 10 to 20 volunteers maintaining the landing hill, chopping it so it’s nice and soft for my landing. That is the best thing about my life. Aerials is the coolest sport in the world and I love to do it and I can’t believe there are so many people basically working for me making it easy for me to jump better.”

Toughest thing about being a world-class competitor:
“It’s a balancing act between telling myself that I’m pathetic and lazy and need to train harder and telling myself that I’m doing okay, that I have some pretty good results and a pretty respectable career and not to be too hard on myself. It’s kind of weird because when you’re trying to be the best you have to have really high standards and you have to be hard on yourself to keep moving. At the same time, if you’re not confident, then you’re not going to do well, so you need to pat yourself on the back. It’s hard to figure out that balance between being satisfied with how you’re doing and motivating yourself to push harder. Plus you have to be aware that it’s all relative and happiness and contentment is just a choice. When you look back when you’re 75 years old, what’s going to matter is that you tried hard and that you were happy doing it.”

Closest competition:
“Dmitri Dashinski from Belarus or Steve Omischl from Canada. They have the skill, they have excellent technique and form, and they land pretty often.”

Competitive edge:
“Experience. Experience is huge. Also I think I have more and better skill and I’m more experienced mentally at coming through when I need to. I’m not way better in any one category, but I think I’m a little bit better in almost every category.”

On quad flips (which currently are not allowed under FIS rules):
“I don’t think we should push for it but if someone is ready to do it then they should be allowed. It’s ridiculous that we’re allowed to do five twists and not four flips. Five twists is way harder.” Bergoust decided to put five twists on hold until after the games and polish his existing jumps to the point of perfection, to raise his chances of jumping with perfect form and landing cleanly. “I hope I won’t regret it in February. If someone else lands five twists in competition, all they have to do is land their second jump. It doesn’t even have to be very pretty and they’ll win.”

Aerials and golf:
“A takeoff to me is kind of like a golf swing. It’s not like a sprint. It’s important for me to be relaxed and calm and focused.”

“They’re Marker bindings and they’re set at 14.”<

Lucky charms:
“I have some Pokemon cereal that’s pretty similar to Lucky Charms.”

Skiing for fun:
“I like it all. I love bumps the most, if they’re nice. But I don’t like World Cup bump courses. Those are insane. Anybody who thinks they can ski moguls can’t ski moguls unless they’ve skied a World Cup bump site. I look like an eight-year-old on a World Cup mogul site. I feel like I’m dropping five feet from icy trough to icy trough and I can only take about four turns before I get too much speed and I have to turn out. On any other mogul course at any other ski area I look like a World Cup mogul skier.”

People would be surprised to know:
“I’ve eaten part of the kicker from the Calgary Olympics. I was a spectator. I waited until everybody left and all the security was gone and then I went up to the jump and took a bite out of it. I’ve also eaten part of the Berlin Wall. Oh yes, and I went number two in the White House. I held it all morning just so I could do that. And in Mozart’s house. I’m making the rounds.”