January 9

Olympic dreams still alive for Mainers

Spots are up for grabs in qualifying races the next couple of weeks.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Two-time gold medalist Seth Wescott reacts after his race in the final of the snowboard cross competition at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

The Associated Press

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For Wescott and Tuttle, both graduates of Carrabassett Valley Academy, all eyes are on the podium starting Friday in the Pyrenees Mountains in tiny Andorra.

Wescott, 37, the two-time Olympic gold-medal winner in snowboard cross, missed the first two World Cup events this season recovering from reconstructive left knee surgery on April 23. Tuttle, 23, has struggled, finishing 27th and 35th.

Both remain in contention because the U.S. men’s team has struggled – with a third, sixth and seventh their top results.

“I made good progress this last month and I’m excited to get into the gate and see what it’s like to race and see where I’m at,’’ said Wescott. “It’s one thing to go out and cruise around the mountain. But I think I’m really close to where I need to be. I’m looking at this first week as the place to get it done.’’

Tuttle knows the pressure is mounting for him to have a good run. “But that’s no new thing,’’ he said. “It’s part of what we do, it’s part of being an athlete. You just kind of roll with the punches and don’t let the little stuff affect you. You’ve got to trust your skills will come out and it will all come together.’’

Wescott and Tuttle like the course at Andorra, a flatter, more technical course that benefits their skills and physique. A top-three finish in either of the two races there, or in the final one in Switzerland, will go a long way to determining their Olympic future. “I always feel I need to podium,’’ said Tuttle. “Some days it just doesn’t happen. The cards have to fall your way quite a bit these days with the level of riding in the world stepping up as it has.

“But the podium definitely has to be in my future. I’m ready to get back on.’’

MOGULS

Cota, two years ago one of the top moguls skiers in the world, has also struggled in the first two World Cup events. He didn’t finish the first race in Finland then finished 22nd at Calgary. With nine moguls skiers competing for three Olympic spots, he knows he has to do better.

“I feel great, I’m skiing better than I ever had, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been,’’ he said in a recent phone interview. “It’s a matter of putting runs down when it counts.’’

Cota, 25, will be joined by fellow CVA graduate DiGravio, 27, and Gould Academy graduate Murphy, 21, in the next two qualifying events, at Deer Valley, Utah, Jan. 11-13, and then at Lake Placid, N.Y., on Jan. 15. Cota then has one more event in Quebec on Jan. 19. Any top-three finishes would go a long way to securing a spot. But finishing with the best score possible is what matters most in this event.

“I don’t really concern myself with the Olympics but it’s hard not to,’’ said Cota. “Every time I talk to a reporter, all they want to talk about is the Olympics. I can’t really control if I make it or not. All I can control is to ski the best I can. And I also know if I ski the best I can, I can do really well.’’

DiGravio, coming back from a knee injury, is also trying to simply ski. “It’s pretty wide open,’’ he said. “We’ll see what happens. I mean, I’m going to try my best. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. I can’t start overthinking about things I can’t control.’’

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