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Local Skiers Miss Out on Chance for Olympics

By Eileen Buckley

Tonawanda, NY – A Western New York couple lost their chance to be selected for the Olympic Free-Style and Mogul Ski Teams.

Earlier this month we told the story of 24-year-old Kelly Hilliman of Tonawanda and her 29-year-old boyfriend, Corey Hacker of the town of Boston -- both heading on the road to Salt Lake City. But unfortunately, both were injured during the final round of competition at Lake Placid.

Kelly says she was performing triple jumps. "I really needed to go for it. So, I did two triples," she explained. "The first jump was one of my best that I've ever done in a competition. It put me into sixth place. I pretty much had to land my second jump with a high enough degree of difficulty that would put me in there."

But that's when Kelly took a tumble.

"I landed with my ski tips and my head at the same time. It gave me a pretty good concussion."

Fortunately Kelly was okay. Corey watched as she was taken away on a stretcher to the hospital, waiting to take his final jump. Corey was going to pull himself from the competition. When he learned Kelly was all right, he decided to go ahead with it. However, Kelly says Corey was still distracted by her fall.

"He pretty much landed on his shoulder. Instead of three flips, he probably did about three-and-a-quarter. He definitely took a very, very hard crash."

Kelly says Corey is out the hospital, but is very sore. She says the next day the team was selected, and they did not make it.

Kelly says she's actually more disappointed about the final selection process. One of the aerial free-style female skiers selected for the team was injured. But Kelly says the spot was filled with a male skier.

"It was really weird. I was being pushed so hard since November to do triples to take that next step. I was the only girl on the team doing two new tricks, and at that level, I was one of the top ones competing out there."

Kelly says she was told the decision was based on who had the next best results to fill the vacant spot and not by gender. She says she is already planning to try again for the 2006 games.

"I'm looking at the next four years of just building on my triples and gaining a lot of experience."

Even though Kelly and Corey didn't make the team they still plan to attend the Olympics in Salt Lake City next month.

"It's going to be very difficult but I think it will be a good experience if I can see what an Olympics is like," Kelly said. "Maybe that will help me for the next Olympics."