Ann Battelle – 1999
To say that her 1998 ski season was downright disastrous is understating Ann’s face-to-face confrontation with gut wrenching reality. Seemingly on course for a medal in Nagano, the 30-year-old freestyle skier from Steamboat Springs was leading going into the final pre-Olympic moguls race at Breckenridge.
Instead of heading for Japan on the highest possible note however, she crashed in the wrapup, her bruised ribs and arms setting the stage for a disappointing 10th in her best event at the ensuing Winter Games.
It was a painful physical and mental turning point for the New York born U.S. team member but not the end of her career. Freed of Olympic pressure and expectation the one-time gymnast gained new found enthusiasm for the sport she took up after graduating from Middlebury College (VT) and moving to Colorado in 1989. She also changed the face of women’s mogul skiing from the petite grace of her predecessors to an aggressive, “go for it” style.
In a stunning comeback, the 5’ 9” aerialist amazed even herself by totally dominating the 1999 circuit. Ironically, she started the year by winning a World Cup event in Japan and it was all sunshine from there. Soaring to the World Cup points title in moguls, she flew on to gold in moguls and bronze in dual moguls at the World Championships in Switzerland and then returned home to Utah to capture season ending U. S. titles in both singles and dual moguls. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association named her its 1999 female athlete of the year.
After receiving Colorado Sportswoman of the Year honors for her spectacular 1999 success, Ann continued to prove her mettle. With two wins, three seconds and one third on the 2000 World Cup tour, she successfully defended her points title in moguls and finished second in the duals standings. She also won the 2000 Goodwill Games duals and was second in singles.