Bumps specialists qualify for NorAms
Aspen, CO ColoradoAfter a semester of college, moguls skiers Glenn Engelman and Rachel Weitzenkorn returned to Aspen to pursue dreams of national team glory.Both have made it over the first bump.At the U.S. Freestyle Selections in Park City, Utah, on Dec. 17-21, both finished in the top 20 amid a field that included all the members of the U.S. and Canadian national teams.The results qualify each to compete for the U.S. this season on the North American Cup circuit, just one step below the World Cup.For Engelman, his qualification was a moot point since his national ranking in dual moguls already earned him a spot on national team’s development squad. The roster spot includes invites to team camps and NorAm bibs.The opportunity to compete at the NorAm level opens the door for both skiers to earn national team spots – and World Cup starts – depending on their results this season.Engelman, who currently is ranked second nationally in dual moguls, finished fourth in one NorAm event last season at Park City and made the final field of 16 in another in Deer Valley, Utah. Should he win the NorAm Grand Prix – the season-long prize awarded to the skier with the best results on the four-stop circuit – he’ll automatically earn a spot on the U.S. Ski Team.”Glenn has a realistic chance at it,” said Jeremy Moore, the duo’s freestyle coach at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. “He took the semester off so he could get after it this winter.”Engelman, 19, graduated from Aspen High School last year, then attended CU this fall. Weitzenkorn headed off to Chestnut Hill, Mass., this fall for her first semester at Boston College before returning to Aspen.Moore said the emphasis for both locals this winter will be to up the amplitude and degree of difficulty of their aerials.”The strengths for both of them is definitely in their skiing,” he said. “Their turns are great. For Rachel, her turn scores were in the top five at the selection events.”On the first day of singles moguls competition, Dec. 17, Weitzenkorn threw a twister spread eagle off the first jump and stuck a 360 at the bottom to finish 16th. The result qualified her for the afternoon finals among a field of 56 other women, where she was unable to improve upon her score.”There was so much talent there, watching finals was just like watching a World Cup freestyle event,” Moore said. Weitzenkorn couldn’t match her opening score on the second day of competition, Dec. 20, and finished 25th overall. Her two combined results were good for 18th overall in moguls – the eighth-best finish for a non U.S. Ski Team member. Weitzenkorn, like Engelman, has a pair of more difficult tricks, but didn’t use them during any of her runs in Park City. The goal was simply to qualify for NorAms, Moore said. “Only 20 U.S. skiers and 20 Canadians can compete in NorAms,” he said. “It’s an elite group and Rachel’s poised to make a move this year.”Engelman couldn’t separate himself during either of the two days of singles moguls, finishing 31st and 40th among a field of 70 skiers. He finally hit his stride in the dual moguls on Dec. 21, qualifying for the finals in 13th before finishing eighth.He faced U.S. Ski Team star Brian Wilson in the finals and got a glimpse of what it takes to compete at the World Cup level. Wilson threw a back double full (backflip with two full rotations) followed by an iron-cross 1080 at the bottom to advance, eventually finishing second.Engelman stuck to his “bread and butter” tricks – a helicopter up top followed by an iron-cross backflip at the bottom – during all of his runs in Park City. He plans to break out a 720 followed by a backflip with a full twist, also known as a back full, at NorAms.Moore said Engelman has the potential to be a star someday on the World Cup as long as he continues to work hard. “He’s really fit,” Moore said. “He tested in one of the highest percentiles this summer at a U.S. Team camp.”The testing consists of such things as timed boxed jumps, sprints and agility drills.Next up for both skiers is the first of four NorAm stops at Mont Gabriel, Canada, Jan. 25-28, followed by stops in Beaver Valley, Canada, Tamarack, Idaho, and then the NorAm Finals in Snow Bowl, Montana. Both skiers also could be headed to the Junior World Championships in Ariolo, Switzerland, in March.”They both still have junior standing, so they’ve got a good shot at that,” Moore said. “I’m just glad Rachel made it [to NorAms] as well. They can travel together and keep each other motivated.” Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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American giant slalom stud Ted Ligety won six times at Birds of Prey, be it five World Cups and/or gold in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, but we have to remember what a struggle it was for him to get there.