Moseley fighting to save spot on freestyle team |

Moseley fighting to save spot on freestyle team

Steve Yingling

Jonny be bad!

That’s Jonny Moseley’s perception as to why the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team hasn’t given him more World Cup starts after a three-year layoff.

The 25-year-old believes the U.S. team officials are paying him back for the time he took off from the squad following his gold-medal performance in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.

“I think I bugged some people, for sure, and I think they are trying to be fair to the other kids coming up,” Moseley said. “Maybe they are punishing me for going off and doing my thing the last couple of years.”

Some of Moseley’s teammates understand his thinking, while others are bothered by the team’s decision to give him the World Cup starts without qualifying for them.

“If I was in his position and won the gold medal and took a couple of years off, I wouldn’t want to start all the way at the bottom,” said South Shore’s Chris Hernandez, who was a Nor-Am series runner-up last year and earned a five-digit pro income. “But you look at us, working harder than he is and they throw him ahead of us. That makes us feel they just gave him it. He did jump ahead of us, but he deserves it more than anyone.”

Travis Cabral and Travis Ramos, longtime friends of Moseley’s, were offended by the U.S. Team’s decision to start “Big Air” over “more qualified” bumpers.

“A lot of people think it’s kind of strange that he’s able to jump right back into a World Cup spot without competing against the rest of us at the selections,” Cabral said. “Others are working hard like (Ramos), Chris and I and so many other kids on the East Coast, it doesn’t seem fair – gold medal or not – he gets to jump back in without proving himself like we have to every year.”

Ramos, who qualified for two World Cup events in the states by placing second in the Selection Events in December, wants the U.S. team’s World Cup representatives to be selected like track and field does for the Olympics.

“I would like to see Jonny and Donna Weinbrecht qualify like everyone else,” Ramos said. “Michael Johnson had the world record and gold medal in the 200, but he still had to go to the Olympic Trials like everyone else and when his hamstring busted, it was sorry you can’t go.”

Moseley only has one of his two World Cup starts left to prove he’s capable of repeating his heli-mute grab theatrics in Nagano.

“They’re being pretty good to me, but they’re not making it easy. At least they’re giving me something,” Moseley said.

If Moseley doesn’t perform well Jan. 26-28 in Sunday River, Maine, his season could be over.

“I don’t know if I’ll get World Cup starts next year if I don’t win this year,” Moseley said. “I basically have to show I can get near the podium. Unless you finish in the top 3 or 5, no one cares.”

Added Hernandez, “This is big for him. I can keep going if I don’t do well, but what is he going to do?If he doesn’t qualify for Japan, does he go to Nor-Ams with us? I doubt if he’ll do that.”

Back spasms have hindered Moseley’s comeback in recent weeks. His back locked up on him while going over a jump on the Olympic course at Deer Valley, Utah. Moseley crashed on the bottom jump of a rough run that left him in 52nd place.

“I’ve been skiing really well, but now I have to put down some runs,” Moseley said. “The hard part is trying to get results when I feel like I’m not quite ready yet.

“It’s competition, for sure. It’s not any different from before, except that the skis are shorter.”

In his time away from the World Cup circuit, Moseley tested his jumping creativity by appearing in the X Games and other trend-breaking snowsport events.

“Freestyle skiing’s tricks are boring. No one on World Cup is doing anything any different. They’re still doing twisters, spreads and daffies. You’d think it would have changed by now,” Moseley said. “I’m not in position to do my thing right now …. 720s and rodeo rolls. As soon as I get my World Cup status back I’ll start incorporating some of that stuff.”

Ultimately, Moseley wants a chance to defends his gold medal next year in in Salt Lake City.

“I definitely want to take another shot at it,” he said. “I’m not bent on it like I was in ’98, but I definitely have it in me to go for it. But the hoops I have to go through are definitely making it discouraging.

“I feel like my career is complete. I’ve done everything I wanted to do. This is just icing.”

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