Winter Park, CO, Nov. 19, 2001--Don St. Pierre looked around the base area at sun-bathed Winter Park Resort and grinned Monday afternoon. Midway through a 10-day training camp for his moguls team, he was pleased with the proceedings, the final tuneup before the first World Cup moguls contest of the Olympic season.
"I'll tell you, when you can look out your window and see the course, walk out of your lodge to the lift, have a gym in your hotel and another next door at the Competition Center -- and being skiing on snow, that's pretty special," the head coach of the U.S. moguls team said. St. Pierre and coaches Liz McIntyre and Dee Williams are working with two dozen men and women, a dozen of whom leave Friday for the opening World Cup event Dec. 1 in Tignes, France.
St. Pierre said the U.S. World Cup delegation includes seven men: Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CA), Toby Dawson (Vail, CO), who won the final event last season, Evan Dybvig (Plainfield, VT), Chris Hernandez (South Lake Tahoe, CA), '98 Olympic and World Cup moguls champion Jonny Moseley (Tiburon, CA), Travis Ramos (South Lake Tahoe, CA), and Ryan Riley (Steamboat Springs, CO); and five women: two-time ex-World Cup champion Ann Battelle (Steamboat Springs, CO), Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA), Hannah Hardaway (Moultonborough, NH), who won two events last season, plus Jillian Vogtli (Ellicotville, NY), and five-time World Cup champion and '92 Olympic moguls gold medalist Donna Weinbrecht.
St. Pierre, McIntyre -- who lives in Winter Park -- and Williams met with Winter Park officials two weeks ago and finalized details on the camp. He praised snowmaking chief Bill Wolvin and his staff for delivering under the adverse conditions of the warm temperatures and lack of snow throughout the West. Monday, temperatures again were in the high 40s and low 50s.
"Winter Park makes the most sense for us. They really went to bat for us, blowing snow -- sometimes they could blow snow for only an hour and half or two hours a night -- but they came up with a 200-meter course, and we're psyched," St. Pierre said. "And Colorado is so accessible, so central; we've been kind of out of touch on a number of fronts because the last two camps were in Chile, so now to be here, to cover everything from uniform, medical, the media, to be able to stage it here is excellent...
"As I follow the weather, as I do every day, I can't help but notice eight out of the last 14 days Tignes' Grande Motte glacier's been closed, so if Winter Park didn't come through, we could've been stuck in France without a course to train on and no access to the glacier, either. ...This," he went on with another smile, "is the first time I've run a moguls camp in November at Winter Park without cold feet, a camp in which we're looking for shade. This is so great."
At the same time, U.S. athletes echoed their coach, thankful they had snow to ski on as they moved into the Olympic season. "It's good," Hardaway said. "We've got the jumps built...and it's challenging."
Justine Van Houte (Telluride, CO), returning from knee surgeries last January and June, said she was pleased, too. "Only my second day on snow in more than a year," she said, "but it's really good. It's a steep course...I'm looking to keep making steps forward." Michelle Roark (Golden, CO), the 1999 World Cup duals champ who also is coming back after spending most of the last two seasons on the sidelines with knee problems, agreed. "It's hard course...but that's good. We're glad to be on snow," she said...and then Roark turned and went up for some additional training with McIntyre and Williams on her jumps.
After the solo event in Tignes, the bumps skiers return to the USA for a mogul and dual moguls doubleheader Dec. 14-15 at Steamboat Springs, Colo., and then the U.S. Ski Team Gold moguls event Dec. 31 with $10,000 cash and an automatic Olympic berth on the line at Deer Valley, Utah, the Olympic venue.