Deer Valley Resort Welcomes Elite Athletes at Fis Freestyle Ski World Cup

Deer Valley Resort is pleased to once again host the world’s best aerial and mogul skiers for the 2015 Visa Freestyle International. For the 13th consecutive year, Deer Valley’s slopes will cater to elite athletes competing in aerials, moguls and dual moguls January 7-10, 2015.

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Hosting FIS Freestyle Ski World Cups, along with the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and two World Championships, has garnered the resort a reputation as a preeminent venue for the freestyle community.

“FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup has become a time-honored, crowd-pleasing event that athletes from around the world, visiting guests to Utah and Park City locals look forward to each year,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort. “We look forward to another amazing display of athletic ability on our slopes.”

Expected to compete in the 2015 World Cup are two Deer Valley® sponsored athletes and ambassadors, Bryon and Brad Wilson. With longtime roots in Park City, this brotherly duo, both of whom are members of the US Freestyle Ski Team, have accomplished a lot in their short tenure as Ski Team athletes. Bryon won the bronze medal at the 2010 Olympic Games and Brad has climbed his way up the World Cup rankings. Together, the two are looking forward to furthering their success at Deer Valley.

Eric Schramm Photography 2013

All World Cup competitions will be held at night under the lights at Deer Valley Resort. Men’s and women’s aerial events will be held on White Owl ski run Thursday, January 8, 2015. Men’s and women’s mogul and dual mogul events are scheduled on Champion ski run Friday, January 9 and Saturday, January 10, 2015. Finals for all disciplines will take place in the evening, with a fireworks display concluding each night. Each discipline will also be filmed and televised on NBC and NBC Sports Network the following week.

The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup celebration will kick off with a free concert by Chris Robinson Brotherhood, led by front man Chris Robinson (of The Black Crowes), on Lower Main Street in Historic Park City Wednesday, January 7 from 7 to 9 pm, with a fireworks show immediately following.

All events during the 2015 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup are spectator-friendly and free to the public. A complete schedule of events can be found at http://www.deervalley.com/WhatToDo/Winter/FISWorldCup. For an enhanced spectator experience, Freestyle Feast VIP tickets are available for Aerial, Moguls and Dual Moguls competitions. Tickets provide special access to the on-hill events, a gourmet buffet and beverages in the VIP tent and a commemorative gift. Tickets are $100 per person, per event and can be purchased by calling 435-645-6510. Quantities are limited.

For more information on the 2015 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup visit DeerValley.com 

2014 US Freestlyle National Championships at Deer Valley Resort

Over the past 15 years, Freestlyle skiing has become a Deer Valley tradition. Not only did the resort host the 2002 Olympic Aerials, Alpine Slalom and Mogul events, but it has also held two World Championships and a dozen World Cups over this time span. The very first Freestyle World Championships were held in 1986. Two years later, mogul skiing was a demonstration sport in Calgary before becoming an official medal event at the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics. World class mogul skiers who come to Deer Valley Resort to compete appreciate its challenging run on Champion ski run, as well as its impeccable and fun filled organization.

Like an overwhelming number of mogul enthusiasts, I never miss the annual Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley early in the year, and the dual moguls event in particular. Why the dual moguls? Because it’s a turbo-charged version of the regular event, as not just one, but two competitors, are jousting neck-to-neck, fighting the tremendous pressure of completing the run, in addition to managing the thought of having an opponent just ahead or right on their tail.

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For the spectators it doubles up the excitement and the potential for upsets. All these elements are why I didn’t want to miss the dual mogul event when I heard that the 2014 U.S. Freestyle National Championships would be held at Deer Valley Resort at the end of March. Since I couldn’t attend the regular mogul competition on Friday, I set my sights on the dual moguls held the last Sunday of March.

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I must admit that the usual Deer Valley spring sun wasn’t present that day. Instead, a fierce blizzard had taken over the mountain, with strong gusts of wind and a steady snowfall that would increase in ferocity as the competition came to its conclusion. There were about 60 men and 40 women engaged in that event and all would dual in a succession of heats, beginning at round 32.

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As an official Deer Valley blogger and videographer, I was given access to the start of the race, where competitors get a plunging view of the slope below. In reality, the slope on Champion ski run is so steep that from the start, competitors can just see one edge that transitions down into the finish area. That’s right, the grade is so forbidding that the whole field of moguls isn’t even discernible – it’s a straight line separating start and finish – and the two sets of jumps can barely be spotted as the eye scans down towards the area where the spectators are massed!

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That said, it takes a lot of courage, cool concentration, good preparation, and great physical shape to launch from the top of Champion! I watched the entire competition, making notes and taking pictures. While the fresh snow falling in abundance kept the course rather soft, it held remarkably well and the only challenge was visibility that, at times, made the contest even much more competitive than it would have been under normal, sunny circumstances.

In particular, it wasn’t easy on competitors who had to constantly switch goggles because of the heavy snow that dumped nonstop, and to make things even more stressful, skiers had to duel from a round of 32 participants, something unusual when compared to World Cup events where it only start at 16.

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As usual, the women completed their runs first and the contest was won by Eliza Outtrim, from Hamden, Connecticut, who had already won the single mogul event on Friday. These successive victories brought Outtrim a total of three U.S. Titles to her name! Second in that dual mogul contest was Sophia Schwartz from Steamboat Springs, Colorado while Elizabeth O’Connell from Winter Park, Colorado took third.

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In the mens category, Bradley Wilson, a Deer Valley Resort athlete, climbed on the highest step of the podium, while local Nick Hanscom from Park City took second, preceding Joe Discoe from Telluride, Colorado.

When the race was over and just after the award ceremony took place in the finish area, I ran into Bob Wheaton, President and General Manager of Deer Valley Resort who introduced me to Skip McKinley, one of the male competitors.

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Remarkably, Skip ran the rental ski department at Deer Valley some 33 years ago, but even more remarkable was the fact that the man was still competing at Deer Valley Resort that day, and managed to finish in the top 40 at more than 60 years of age.

What an incredible achievement and what an inspiration to all of us that would love to ski bumps but no longer have the skills, nor the “suspension” required to make it to the bottom of the course. Way to go Skip!

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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