Matt Chojnacki, on leave from the U.S. Ski Team until such time as the FIS, the international ruling body of skiing, changes its mind on allowing aerial skiers to compete with quadruple flips, threw one of the outlawed "four-by-fours" into the splash pool at Park City's Utah Olympic Park to collect his annual Sprint Ultimate Airwave victory and a nifty little check for six grand.
The U.S. team's Joe Pack was second with his own quad, but crashed the landing to hand the win to Chojnacki. Britt Swartley, returning after having a hamstring grafted into a torn-up knee, finished third and World Cup and Olympic champ Eric Bergoust was fourth, despite achieving a perfect score from the judges in the qualifying rounds.
"We're training for the Olympics, not for this," said Pack. "I was pushing my envelope a little too far."
The Olympics, in fact, is what Chojnacki would like, too. "I'd be back in a heartbeat if they'd change that rule," he said. "The FIS doesn't think we're ready for it (quads). They're wrong."
Tracy Evans won the women's event over Brenda Petzold. Pack teamed with Jeret Peterson to win the men's synchro event with two skiers flying off the jump at once while Evans and Petzold made short work of the women's synchro field.
The win gave Chojnacki a chance to plead his case to the public one more time.
"Difficulty has always been one of my biggest motivators," he said. "I grew up watching the sport in the late '80s when (the competitors) were pushing the limits, doing new stuff. ... I believe FIS's decision is politically based."
He also said his jump wasn't exactly a "four-by-four," because although it does include four back flips and four twists, he employs a double twist on one of the flips. "It's more like an SUV, because it's cooler than a simple four-by-four."
source: Ski Racing Vol. 34 #2 (9/21/01), p. 17