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Tuesday, January 22, 2002
 
This road to Games much easier for Dybvig

Associated Press


This time, Evan Dybvig found a much smoother path to the Olympics.

Coaches lifted Dybvig off the bubble and into one of the 14 spots awarded on the U.S. Olympic freestyle team Tuesday. It was a stark contrast from 1998, when the moguls skier was originally left off the squad, but made it with help of an appeal and an arbitrator's ruling.

"I feel like '98 is in the past," said Dybvig, who finished 31st in Nagano. "I wouldn't say I was thinking about that so much. I've just been replaying what's happened this year. I was thinking if I didn't make it, I knew I've done as much as possible. But if I did make it, I believe I deserve it because of all I have done."

Joining Dybvig on the moguls team are 1998 Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley, Travis Mayer and Jeremy Bloom, a scholarship football player who delayed his enrollment at Colorado for a shot at the Olympics.

Moseley, Mayer and Bloom filled the three spots awarded automatically because of results in the current season. Dybvig was the coaches' discretionary pick.

The women's moguls team features Hannah Hardaway, Shannon Bahrke, Jillian Vogtli and Ann Battelle, a 34-year-old who made her fourth Olympics team.

Not making the team was 36-year-old Donna Weinbrecht, the five-time World Cup champion who came back in hopes of making her fourth Olympics.

Eric Bergoust, also a 1998 gold medalist, leads the men's aerials team. He'll be joined by Brian Currutt and Joe Pack, who are both from Park City, Utah, where the freestyle competition will be held. Pack was the coaches' second and final discretionary pick.

Brenda Petzold and another Park City resident, Tracy Evans, will join 2001 U.S. champion Emily Cook on the women's aerials team. Evans made her third Olympics. Cook's availability is in doubt, however, because she dislocated two bones in her foot during a landing in a competition last Friday.

Cook's foot is in a soft cast, and she is immobile right now, Olympic freestyle coach Jeff Wintersteen said. If Cook can't go, she will likely be replaced on the team by men's aerialist Jeret Peterson.

"Some of these athletes were obvious selections, and then there were incredibly hard choices," Wintersteen said.

He called the choice between Dybvig and Travis Ramos for the final men's moguls spot "heartwrenching."

The men's moguls team is among the deepest in the world. There wasn't much separating Dybvig, Ramos and Toby Dawson, to name a few, when coaches and U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association president Bill Marolt were looking to fill the fourth spot for moguls.

Dybvig's chances for making the Olympics appeared stymied in the fall when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He has made an amazingly quick recovery, however, and now finds himself preparing for another Olympics.

It will be a much more enjoyable preparation period than last time.

The ski team chose to only fill 11 of the 14 available spots on selection day in 1998, which prompted Dybvig and two others to appeal the decision. An arbitrator ruled in Dybvig's favor, and he conceded it wasn't exactly the way he had always dreamed of making the Olympics.

He'll have no such worries this time.

"The best thing I can do now is to ski to my ability, ski well for my team, and show that the coaches made the right decision," he said.