A Marriage Made in Ski Heaven!

Deer Valley Resort and Freestyle Skiing share a very special kinship. Besides being a central venue during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Deer Valley has – with only two exceptions – hosted yearly Freestyle World Cup events since the beginning of the new millennium. Already in 2003, the resort hosted the World Freestyle Ski Championships and this early February, Deer Valley saw the culmination of this special relation crowned, as it hosted this world event for the second time, an assignment at the measure of Deer Valley’s excellence.

This year, Ski Cross (premiered here in 2008,) was added to the series of events and was contained into an ideal, contiguous and complete freestyle stadium, including both Moguls and Aerials. This unique site configuration for viewing the entire show, combined with the perfectionism that has always been Deer Valley Resort’s hallmark, has made it the freestyle skiing capital of the world and this might be another excellent reason for timing, if you can, your next ski vacation with an upcoming Deer Valley Freestyle World Cup, as competition schedules always allow to combine day skiing with afternoon or evening events watching.

 Like many, I love freestyle skiing because it embodies a skier’s expression of his or her on-snow dreams and fantasies; unlike the regimented and sometimes ossified sides of its alpine cousin, freestyle skiing still has a wide open potential for creativity on snow and for pushing even further the envelope of what’s possible. This remains true, even though the athletes’ technical level keeps on growing by leaps and bounds, in all the events that I have watched during these recent championships.

What’s amazing though, is that unlike alpine skiing, in which differences between athletes are often hard to pinpoint, the vast and limitless register of options given to each participant remains wide open and lets the spectator see and appreciate the various styles between competitors and this bodes well for the sport future. Ski Cross is also maturing and showing that it can hold its own as a permanent fixture into the world of freestyle skiing while offering a more diverse and thrilling vision of what’s possible on the snow. Halfpipe continues shooting skiers back and forth, higher up in the air, giving them more time and tricks to impress all of us…

I wasn’t able to see the Slopestyle event, but heard it was one of a kind (another one!) and can only hope that it will earn a lasting spot in the family. This said, I do have a favorite, and it’s moguls. Why? Perhaps I can do it without too many restrictions and can still adapt it to my dwindling technical abilities, slowing reflexes, and practice it on the many runs Deer Valley Resort offers in permanence to its guests. The event that in my view captures the best of freestyle remains the Dual Moguls and was the crowning conclusion of this year’s World Championships. It combines skills and mental pressure, repeated and amplified four times in the space of a short evening, and takes the very best out of the greatest champions. I must say that even though I thought I was cheering the whole evening, the performances I saw left me mentally speechless!

2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships

I can feel the excitement as the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships are about to start! I’ve been skiing most everyday and showing my groups the venue for the Ski Cross, Moguls and Aerials. Even though I’m not competing there’s always a bit of excitement anticipating the competitions.

The athletes from all over the world are arriving and training. I remember as an athlete arriving to the host resort. You see the hill and start to wonder is this going to be where I achieve my goal and win a word championship medal? Even though I competed in Alpine, the Freestyle World Championships athletes still share the same anxiety.

I’m sure (from my experience) that the athletes are excited and want to get the games going. They have been competing all season and now the big event of the season is upon them. The US athletes are for sure at an advantage because they are at their “home hill”. They have trained and competed here before. But they are also at a big disadvantage. Competing in the World Championships is pressure enough but competing in them in your home country in front of your friends and family adds so much extra pressure.

There is so much that goes along being in the World Championships. People may think it is just showing up on your competition day and hope to have the run of your life. Well not really. There are always responsibilities such as press conferences, fitting in training and the gym, sponsor dinners and family time. This is always the case as an elite athlete but it seems to be that much greater and packed together at World Championships or an Olympics. I keep referencing the “home” turf advantage/disadvantage because of all the things the athletes need to do. They also want to get to their favorite restaurant, shop or hang out to burn off some nerves and make them relax. Some much to do and such little time to fit it all in.

I attached a photo I thought would represent the feel of the World Championships. What’s missing from this picture? Whether it is a World Cup or World Championship being at home always brings out athletes from the past that participate in sponsor functions. We are there to cheer on our present athletes and maybe help them manage the pressure? But for sure it’s always fun to get together and share the stories of our past experiences of glory and not so much glory.

 Good Luck to all the Athletes! See you on the Slopes