Olympic bound | VailDaily.com

Olympic bound

Kelly Coffey

With the 2006 Torino Olympic games on the radar, all eyes are looking at Vail resident Kildow. Once the anonymous underdog in 2002, she no longer has the luxury in 2006. Will Kildow be able to keep the same “just having fun” mentality that brought her success in 2002?

“I’m just going to take it day by day,” she said. “I need to stay relaxed and try to block out all the external pressures that go along with big events.”

Her goals for the season include rankings in the top three for the downhill and the super-G, and at least one medal in Torino.

Ambitious, yes. But her ambitions fit well with the feelings of the entire team.

“[Our women’s team] looks really strong. We have competitors in all four events,” she said, noting that the U.S. women could possibly bring home Olympic medals in all four specialties: slalom, giant slalom, super-G, and downhill.

Kildow is coming off a spectacular 2005 season that included her first World Cup win and five other top-threes. A couple of fourth-place finishes (downhill and combined) at the 2005 World Championships gave her a taste of greatness. Kildow is expected this upcoming season to spend so much time on the podiums of World Cup events that FIS will start charging her rent.

It seems that not even injuries can keep this Korean-born Vail local down. He won the 2005 dual moguls World championship even after breaking his foot earlier that season. In 2004, he broke his leg, but still ended the season ranked second in the world. This regular on Warren Miller movies and World Cup podiums is training hard for his first Olympics. Look for him again to be a dominator on the World Cup circuit this season. Whether this upcoming season remains injury-free or not, everyone expects big things out of “Awsome Dawson.”

With two previous Olympics under her belt, this 10-year U.S. Ski Team veteran and Vail resident is no stranger to high-profile competitions. When Schleper placed second at the 2004 World Cup Finals, she let the world know she was one of the slalom skiers to watch. Closing up the 2005 season with her first World Cup win and her fourth U.S. slalom crown, Schleper will be a strong contender in the slalom in 2006. She is a main reason why the U.S. women have such high expectations in Torino.

This second-year U.S. Snowboard Team rider and Minturn resident graduated from Battle Mountain High School this past spring. In 2005 she padded her resume with a win at the USASA Nationals and a second-place finish at the Junior Worlds in Zermatt, Switzerland. Those successes may give her enough confidence to reach more podiums this upcoming season. This 19-year-old half-pipe specialist has been making the rounds on the competitive circuit, qualifying for the X-Games and U.S. Open. The Olympics may be next.

Edwards’ own Stacia Hookom missed both the 1998 and the 2002 Olympic Games by one position. With six National Championship Titles and nine World Cup podiums, Hookom will make the most of her last shot at the Olympics. The 11-year U.S. Snowboard Team veteran has an intense off-season training schedule to reach that goal.

“I am going to snowboard every possible moment so that I can make my last chance for the Olympics really count,” she said on her U.S. Snowboard Team biography.

Avon resident Eden Serina went from never riding a snowboard to placing 26th in a World Cup Event in six years. In 2000, in her first race ever, Serina wore a second-hand speed suit given to her by Stacia Hookom. The 30-year-old former Wall Street investment banker rides for the Philippine National Snowboard Team. She intends to qualify for the Olympics and carry the Philippine flag at the opening ceremonies.

“This is my chance to show the world that the Philippines, despite being a small tropical country, can still participate in winter sports and participate well,” Serina told the Vail Daily in February.

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