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December 06, 2001 -- Athletes from the University of Utah (the U) should dot Olympic rosters for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Six current and former U students are expected to compete in the upcoming games. Freestyle skiing is the most popular discipline.

Shannon Bahrke is on the women's U.S. Ski Team and specializes in Freestyle/Moguls. She started taking classes at the U two years ago while in training. Shannon is majoring in Pharmacy, but right now is concentrating on pre-Olympic qualifying races. "We need a top three, two top fives, three top tens, etc. to get in. It's really complicated. But, I'm confident and really excited." The Olympic team will be named January 22. Why does Shannon attend the University of Utah? She says it's simple, "It's a great school. It's really close to everything I need in Salt Lake, it's close to skiing and all of the facilities the U.S. Ski Team has to offer."

Sondra Van Ert competes in snowboarding for the U.S. Ski Team. She graduated from the U in 1998 and says she is excited about competing in the upcoming Winter Games. "It's gonna be super crazy, because I have so much family and friends in Utah. Luckily, my event is towards the beginning of the Games, so after that's over, I can relax and have fun."

The men's team has one current, and three former university students on its roster.
Brian Currutt takes classes at the university and is one of the top Freestyle/Aerialists on the U.S. Ski Team. Mariano Ferrario already graduated from the U with a degree in Exercise and Sports Science, and he too is a Freestyle/Aerialist on the U.S. Ski Team.
Justin Wadsworth is an example of U staying power. He attended the university back in 1987, but will compete for the U.S. this year in Cross Country Skiing.

Past U.S. Olympians say the University of Utah is destined to become even more popular with the winter sports stars of the future, and not just because of the major venues (Olympic Stadium and Athlete's Village) on campus for the 2002 Games. Craig Rodman says younger athletes are finally finding out about the U's ideal location in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountians. He trained for the mogul competition at the 1992 Winter Olympic games in Albertville, France while going to school. "The U is nice because you can attend all your classes and go get freshies (fresh powder) all afternoon." Craig took time off from his studies to compete at Albertville and later at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. He did well, placing 13th and 18th respectively.

Craig is now back at the U finishing up his degree in exercise and sports science. He says his time at the university has been "a great mix of sport and education" that has helped him professionally. Craig is a coach for the Park City Freestyle Ski Team, an Athlete Representative for the USSA (United States Ski and Snow Board Association) and will be doing television commentary for NBC during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Sean Smith attended the University of Utah while training for, and competing in, the Winter Olympics. He placed 13th in the mogul competition in Lillehammer. "Because the school is on the quarter system, I went to class on campus each spring. During the winter months I would take correspondence courses. I remember the other guys on the team laughing at me while I was studying. Then, when our skiing careers were over, I was graduating while they were just starting college. That's pretty funny to me." Sean graduated with a degree in communications in 1998.

The University of Utah is gaining in stature in other countries as well. Just ask Gota Miera a mogul skier from Japan. He enrolled while training for the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Gota took a break to compete there and again in his hometown of Nagano in 1998. He's back in classes at the U and expects to graduate this spring with a degree in Exercise and Sports Science. "Utah is great for learning and skiing. Colorado is famous for skiing, but the nearest campus is in Boulder, two hours from the slopes. Japanese students are beginning to find out about the University of Utah."

Gota intends to stay in Utah and make it his home. He is a coach for the Wasatch Freestyle Ski Team based at the Snowbird Ski Resort, and for the USA Junior National Team at Deer Valley Ski Resort, both just minutes from campus. Gota is also a skiing commentator for Fuji TV in Japan.

(* current US Ski Team member)

Current U Students:
*Shannon Bahrke - Freestyle/Moguls, major: Pharmacy
Craig Rodman - Freestyle/Moguls, major: Exercise and Sports Science.
Gota Miera - Freestyle/Moguls, major: Exercise and Sports Science.
*Brian Currutt - Freestyle/Aerialist, major: Communications.

Former U students:
*Mariano Ferrario - Freestyle/Aerialist, Bachelor of Science 1999
Sean Smith - Freestyle/Moguls, Bachelor of Science 1998
*Marcus Nash - Cross Country, Bachelor of Science 1995
Luke Bodensteiner - Cross Country, Bachelor of Arts 1994
*Sandra Van Ert - Snowboard, Bachelor of Science 1998
*Justin Wadsworth - Cross Country, attended 1987
Peter Karns - Biathlon, Bachelor of Science 1967
Spencer - Biathlon, Bachelor of Science 1961
Marvin Melville - Downhill/Slalom, Bachelor of Science 1959
Suzanne Harris Rytting - Downhill/Slalom/Combined, attended 1951
Richard Movitz - Downhill/Slalom, Bachelor of Science 1949

Media Contacts:
Remi Barron, public relations (801) 581-7295, cell (801) 231-9932,
Coralie Alder, public relations (801) 581-5180, cell (801) 556-8405,
US Ski Association, public relations (435) 649-9090,


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