No Win, But Cook's All Smiles: Top U.S. Aerialist Out of Women's Freestyle, Not Out of Spirit

By Emily Faber, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Sunday, February 19—For four years, U.S. athlete Emily Cook worked to be her very best at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. But her devastating injury while training two weeks before the games put it all in jeopardy. It didn't stop her, though.

On Sunday, Cook skied in qualifying rounds for the freestyle women's aerials. She came into the competition as the top-ranked woman, but after her injury she was unable to hold maintain her position. She messed up on her landing and didn't make it into the finals, but she was all smiles at the bottom of the hill.

"I will not, in any way, let a little tumble ruin this experience," she insisted. "No way."

That's the Olympic spirit. 

Australian Jacqui Cooper showed that same spirit after similar problems, but with different results. She came in with the highest score, placing first. 

Cooper is 33 years old. She was injured during a ski crash at the games in Nagano, Japan, eight years ago. She tore up her knee four years later while training for the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, she's in the finals. 

"I waited eight years for this moment," Cooper said. "Every day, I've dreamed about it, thought about it."

The finals are set for Wednesday, February 22 at Sauze d'Oulx, Italy. The other top skiers in this event were China's Xinxin Guo and Nina Li. 

American Jana Lindsey also failed to qualify. In the 2005 World Championships, Jana Lindsey finished in 10th place. Of the six aerialists on the freestyle team, including the men, only Jeret "Speedy" Peterson has advanced to the finals. 

The finals for the men is set for Thursday, February 23. 

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