Aerialists Ryan St. Onge & Jeret “Speedy” Peterson on top of their game heading to Winter Olympics

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on February 8, 2010 3:30 pm

The U.S. Olympic aerials team is locked and loaded for the 2010 Games after fine tuning its most jaw-dropping jumps the past 10 days at the Utah Olympic Park.

“The main focus of camp for everyone was just to have good jumps and build confidence,” Aerials Head Coach Matt Christensen said. “As a whole, the camp was phenomenal. The athletes performed well and the site was just great.”

Fans of two-time Olympian Jeret “Speedy” Peterson (Boise, ID, pictured above) will certainly want to tune in for the men’s events, lest a spot-on “Hurricane” wipes out the field in Vancouver. The Olympic Trials champion has continued to perfect the five-twist jump that mesmerized the world before a mistake on the landing cost him a podium spot four years ago in Torino, Italy.

“This last week was the best I’ve ever seen him jump,” Christensen said. “It was even better than he’s been in training already this season.”

Although both men’s and women’s aerials teams have struggled during the World Cup season, both feature the potential for medal bids at Cypress Mountain if the stars align.

Defending World Champion Ryan St. Onge, with tricks in his bag that can battle the best, fought through a cold in training and expects to be back at full strength when qualification begins for the men on Monday, Feb. 22.

“It’s been tough for him,” Christensen said. “I’m confident he’ll be fine, though.”

2006 veteran Emily Cook (Belmont, CA) did not jump at last week’s camp while nursing a bruised heel, but Christensen noted her 2007 sixth-place finish at World Championships after injuring herself in December and missing more than a month of jumping.

“She’s always done really well after injury,” he said.

Christensen said fellow returnee Jana Lindsey (Black Hawk, ID) has been doing “really well” honing her double-full-full in a lighter training load designed for the more experienced aerialists. Olympic rookies Matt DePeters (Hamburg, NY), Lacy Schnoor (Draper, UT) and 16-year-old Ashley Caldwell (Hamilton, VA) were pushed a little harder.

“For them, it’s actually more like training,” Christensen said. “They have a different mindset from the rest of the team.”

Schnoor, winner of the women’s Olympic Trials in December, was on good form despite a “banged-up” knee, Christensen said.

“She’s starting to go really big, which is good to see,” he said. Women’s aerials qualifications will be held Saturday, Feb. 20.

Former Aerials Head Coach Wayne Hilterbrand pitched in the Olympic effort, teaming up with workers at Utah Olympic Park to create a steeper landing more similar to the one the team will face in Vancouver. Hilterbrand led the 1998 Olympic Team to an aerials medal sweep as coach.

“They did a great job with that,” Christensen said. “I was really pleased with the way that turned out.”

Women’s aerials finals will be held Wednesday, Feb. 24, with the men’s medal contest the following day. The team will board the plane for Vancouver early Tuesday morning.

Zeke Piestrup ( More Posts)

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