U.S. Names Freestyle Team

Times Staff Writer

When aerials skier Eric Bergoust competed at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, he thought the whole thing was pretty low-key.

"It didn't really feel like the Olympics. It felt like a World Cup event," he said.

"We didn't stay at the athletes' village.... But we also hadn't seen what Olympic success brings an athlete."

Bergoust, 36, finished seventh in the sport's Olympic debut but learned about success when he won the gold medal at Nagano in 1998. He fell on his final jump at Salt Lake City in 2002 and finished 12th, but he will get another opportunity to twist and flip his way to the top of the medal stand.

Bergoust, of Missoula, Mont., was one of 14 athletes nominated Wednesday to the U.S. freestyle team for the Turin Olympics. The roster for moguls and aerials is so strong that 2005 moguls world champion Nate Roberts didn't make the team.

Bergoust, the oldest athlete selected, is one of four Olympic medalists. The others are 2002 aerials silver medalist Joe Pack of Park City, Utah, 2002 moguls silver medalist Travis Mayer of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and 2002 women's moguls silver medalist Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City, Calif.

Several were assured of nominations by winning events this season. Among them is Emily Cook of Belmont, Mass., who missed the Salt Lake City Games after she fell on a practice jump and broke both feet.

The U.S. will send four competitors in men's moguls, four in women's moguls, four in men's aerials and two in women's aerials. Perhaps the best known of all is moguls favorite Jeremy Bloom, the former University of Colorado receiver who plans to launch an NFL career after the Games. But he's not the only contender on a team that's deep and experienced.

"The camaraderie on the U.S. team is second to none," Pack said. "We definitely push each other. We've got four guys going for the top spot."

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