Ski Team Reunion

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During the 2014 Deer Valley FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup the U.S. Ski Team had a fundraiser called “IceMen.” In short, generous people donate to the U.S. Ski Team and in return get to ski with past members of the team.  

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I always enjoy skiing and learning from these former U.S. Ski team members. Their resumes include a two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time silver medalist, bronze medalist, and an overall World Cup title holder. I’m always in amazement when I ski with them. I have such respect for this group of skiers.   

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It was our first powder day and the group wanted good skiing, so we headed to X-Files. I didn’t realize that one of our champion leaders didn’t like to hike until it was too late. But it was worth it, he enjoyed the skiing and it was great to see him laugh harder than anyone has ever seen. The guest witnessed all of us joking around with each other all day. One mentioned that it was cool to see how close the U.S. ski family really was. I feel lucky to be part of the Deer Valley family and be able to show the friends I have made it from ski racing to representing my home resort. 

See you on the slopes. 

 

 

FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Returns to Deer Valley



WC Crowd_1756The world’s best aerial and mogul skiers return to Utah this winter to compete in Deer Valley’s 2014 FIS Visa Freestyle International World Cup. Held January 8 – 11, 2014, the World Cup features two disciplines: moguls and aerials. This marks the 15th year of international and elite competitions hosted at Deer Valley, including the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, two World Championships and 12 World Cups making the resort an esteemed venue for the freestyle community.

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“We couldn’t be more excited to have the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup return to Deer Valley for another year,” said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager for Deer Valley Resort. “Champion and White Owl ski runs prove to be the perfect venue for these world-class skiers, as well as for the thousands of spectators that turn out for this favorite annual event.”

Expected to compete in the 2014 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 in Vancouver, B.C. and Brad has climbed his way up the World Cup rankings. Together, the two are looking forward to furthering their success on the slopes of Deer Valley Resort.

Eric Schramm Photography 2013

“It’s an honor to support the Wilson brothers on their path to World Cup and Olympic gold,” said Wheaton. “Bryon and Brad are extremely talented athletes and great ambassadors for freestyle skiing. It means a great deal that they have chosen to represent Deer Valley and consider us their home training mountain.”

The World Cup celebration will kick off with a free concert featuring Big Head Todd and the Monsters on lower Main Street in historic Park City on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, from 7 – 9 p.m., with a fireworks show immediately following.

_MG_8727All competitions will be held at night under the lights at Deer Valley. Men’s and women’s mogul events are scheduled on the Champion ski run on Thursday, January 9, and Saturday, January 11. Men’s and women’s aerial events will be held on the White Owl ski run on Friday, January 10. 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 airing Saturday, January 25, 2014.

 

All events during the 2014 World Cup are spectator-friendly and free to the public. A complete schedule of events can be found on the Deer Valley Website here.

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Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of the Deer Valley social media platforms. Use the hashtag #DeerValleyWC to share your videos, pictures and comments with other fans. Get excited about this years event by checking out the recap from last year here.

 

 

World Cup with Kids

WC VenueFact: You don’t have to stay until the fireworks (read: way past bedtime) to get an awesome World Cup experience. Here’s why: opening night was, in fact, a school night. So, we high-tailed it from afternoon karate lessons to Deer Valley to watch some practice runs, a few competition runs, and soak up the atmosphere, knowing that we’d need to leave as the competition heated up. Still, I figured my kids would have enough atmosphere to soak up and that the gamble would pay off. Hey, once in a while, Mom gets it right…

My kids were as excited to ride the chairlift in street boots, at dusk, as they were to see the freestyle skiers hit bumps, jumps and tricks. As we approached Burns chairlift, an unexpected treat greeted us—in the form of the IHC LifeFlight helicopter landing at the top of Wide West ski run. (The chopper remains parked there, at the ready, in case an athlete needs quick transport to a hospital.)  “I want to touch the helicopter!” screamed Seth.

Soon, we were loading onto the chairlift, bringing him ever-closer to having his wish granted. On the ride up, he was filled with questions: “How will we get all the way to the race course? What kind of food will we eat for dinner? Do you think the pilot will let me fly the helicopter?” I like how he asked two no-brainers before sliding in the “request impossible.”

Chopper2No sooner had we run “like the wind” off the chairlift, the kids were racing over to check out the chopper—and to stage a gag shot that they wanted me to capture. (“Mom, does it look like we’re holding the helicopter in our hands, Mom?”) Soon enough, we were hiking up to the venue, with big brother, officially an expert VIP attendee after last year’s outing, authoritatively explaining the ins-and-outs to little brother.

The VIP tent didn’t disappoint—an inventive Mexican feast awaited us, and we dove in. The kids were mesmerized by the fact that they were rubbing elbows with athletes from all over the world (and by the unlimited supply of hot chocolate). Seth improvised a bean burrito from the Fajita station, Lance enjoyed the Fajita chicken, and Jeff got smart and hit the dessert table post-haste, so that the kids (ok, so that WE) could dig into the chocolate bread pudding with nary a delay.

Outside, I realized I was in trouble when Seth stood in slack-jawed awe, staring up at the moguls course. “I want to do that,” he said as one of the athletes landed an Iron Cross. Just as quickly, he identified the helicopter pilots, and went up to introduce himself. “I want to fly your chopper!” he announced. The pilots offered a friendly chuckle, and redirected the conversation to athletes competing. “Do you ski like that?” they asked. “Not yet,” was my little guy’s swift, decisive reply.

Snow CouchSoon, they were settling in to watch the skiers—on a sofa of their own making. “Mom, this is just like the one we saw on your birthday last year!” Seth announced. Lance, ever the innovator, was quick to create “cup holders” for their hot chocolate cups. Nice. They drank hot cocoa and screamed loud approvals for all of the athletes. They even complied when we said it was time to leave.

Then, we discovered the “bonus round.” The “walk” down from the bottom of Solid Muldoon to Snow Park Lodge became something of a boot-ski run.

VIDEO The kids thought they were getting away with something by skiing down to the bottom on their boot soles—and I knew they’d be extra-tired by the time we got home.

We’re counting the minutes until the 2014 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in January!

Interview with Marilyn Stinson, Chief of World Cup Volunteers

Marilyn 2013 World CupMarilyn Stinson is Deer Valley’s Tour and Travel International Marketing Manager. Yet before, during and just after the annual FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup, she becomes the Chief of Volunteers for this acclaimed sporting event. Marilyn has been assigned to that event position since 1999. During that period of time, she has gone through one Olympic Games, two World Championships and every single World Cup event. Currently, she is responsible for around 220 volunteers without whom the event wouldn’t be possible.

What is your main role in this position?

My main role is signing up the volunteers and putting them in their appropriate area of expertise. This represents a lot of preparation before the event and some constant coordination as the competitions unfold. It carries on until the festivities are over, into the tear-down of the hill that is conducted jointly by our volunteers and Deer Valley’s staff.

How do go about recruiting volunteers?

They seem to come to me directly. I don’t need to do much recruiting. We built a great database of those interested in volunteering from the 2002 Olympic games. Volunteers seem to enjoy the Deer Valley experience. In fact, we have a wait-list of people who want to volunteer with us for next year’s World Cup.

So is there more than your nice smile and your pleasant personality to attract these volunteers?

I hope that’s part of it (chuckling…), but I think we want to make sure the volunteers are respected and know that their time is very important to us, in making that important event happen.

What makes a good volunteer?

Someone who’s timely, has a great personality, is always positive, has a flexible schedule and likes Deer Valley Resort.

So if I wanted to be a volunteer, what qualities would you be looking for?

Where I always seem to be short is for most on-hill positions, that includes our mogul and aerial events. I definitely look for someone who is a strong skier, capable of getting down the steep mogul course, or who doesn’t have a problem chopping the hill on the aerial course. But also important is somebody that is positive and happy!

So you need someone with strong legs and arms?

Good legs, good arms and a good smile!

Marilyn Hard at WorkBut, you’re not just doing the job of Chief of Volunteers all year round; what’s your regular position at Deer Valley?

My full-time title is Tour and Travel International Marketing Manager for Deer Valley Resort.

That’s a lot of hats to wear!

Yes, but we have a great team at the marketing department and we all step-up when it comes to World Cup!

Do you learn things during your World Cup job that you can apply to your normal position?

It’s a totally different activity for me; it’s essentially making sure that our volunteers are assigned, checked-in, in the right place, fed and are all happy!

Do you look at the World Cup as a break from your normal routine?

I wouldn’t call it a break.  It’s a change, because while doing the volunteer position, I’m also still doing my regular job.

So you’re doubling up?

I am doubling up!

Are there skills that you use in your regular job that you can transfer into the Chief of Volunteer position?

Yes. I think it’s mostly working together and enjoying the friendship that develops over the years with all the volunteers, many of whom have been with us since the beginning. It becomes an on-going relationship. Everyone knows what to do, when to be there and the whole process seems to flow easier and smoother, year after year.

2174_63757777058_1146_nWho are your volunteers, where do they come from?

Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Some are retired, some are military personnel from Hill Air Force Base. Others drive from as far as Ogden or Provo, year after year, day after day. Sometimes they show up at Snow Park Lodge at 6 a.m. to volunteer following over an hour of driving. Especially with the snowy weather we experienced just before this year’s events, it puts them through the test of being an unflinching volunteer!

Now, what do the athletes think about this World Cup event?

They really love to come to Deer Valley Resort. They’ve always told us that Deer Valley is the best stop on the Freestyle World Cup circuit and they’re so appreciative of our volunteers. With our team of volunteers, there’s no drama, and everyone makes the event happen in the Deer Valley way and the Deer Valley style.

Now that the Word Cup is over, how would you assess this year’s event?

The events this year went very smoothly. We, once again, had great volunteers who have been with us for many years and are all of them are greatly experienced. We had a volunteer thank-you dinner to recognize all of them.  We’re already thinking about next year!

Fast and Furious

We are hooked.  Saturday night my husband, Jay and I stood with the crowd at the base of the run for the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Dual Mogul finals at Deer Valley Resort.  After watching athlete after athlete “eat it” speeding down the course in attempt to grab a coveted top 16 semi-finals spot, we had great respect for the difficulty of the course and how steep the competition.

Nancy and Jay
The finals were insanely crazy - what a rush! These athletes flipped in the air doing the “truck driver”, “iron cross”, “heli 360″, or elegant front flip aerial moves. Then after landing, they immediately hit three – four foot tall moguls while racing a world class athlete skiing beside them. The competition was fast and furious.

Mogul Course

We watched Brad Wilson advance past #1 ranked Mikael Kingsbury ending the Canadian’s 19 event podium streak as the crowd went nuts.  We saw U.S. athlete Patrick Deneen lose the gold by a nose to Canadian Alex Bilodeau by five hundredths of a second!  Hannah Kearney has a few more raving fans after watching her absolutely kill it and win gold.

After the awards ceremony, the party kept going!

 

Even the volunteer clean- up crews had smiles on the faces as they picked up signs and took down the pedestrian walkways to ready the run for skiing the next day.

Volunteers

Our evening took an unexpected but delightful turn when we met semi-finalist freestyle skier Dylan Walczyk on the bus to the Main Street station.  He was fresh from a bronze medal at Lake Placid.  He mentioned he was headed to an Olympic test event Sochi, Russia in two weeks.

Dylan
While this was our first moguls competition, it will certainly not be our last.

For more information click here.– http://www.deervalley.com/WhatToDo/Winter/FISWorldCup

World Cup and Being a Finish Line Mom

IMG_6192The 2013 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup events just finished up at Deer Valley Resort and it reminded me of the good old days.

Frankly, I’m happy not to be in the position of these athletes- in front of a home crowd and wanting to perform to your best. Don’t get me wrong, I know they want to get their personal best of the season, but there is something about competing at home that puts some added pressure on the whole performance. I’m sure they love competing at home, but they would be lying if they say it’s easy. It’s easy that you might get to sleep in your own bed, eat your favorite food and see friends and family that you’ve missed because you’ve been traveling- but that’s why there is an extra bit of heat.

You want to show everyone your best. Sometimes I think athletes might forget (take it from experience), to just focus on the performance and not the outcome. I know how it feels when you want to podium and instead get fourth at home or a top 10 finish. It can be disappointing, but everyone is still proud to see the US athletes compete!

IMG_6835So great job everyone!

Besides watching the next generation of athletes perform, I have another hat. I’m also a finish line Mom. I’m finally in my Mom’s seat- a seat where she watched so many races for her four children. She never skied so that’s why she was always at the finish line, doing the “come to momma.”  Do I get nervous watching my own children, the same as competitors on the World Cup? I would be lying if I said, “no”. It is a bit of a thrill, and I get a few butterflies at this point (my boys are only eight and 11), but, mostly because I want them to have fun. I remember so many times calling my Mom in tears. I just don’t want them to have to experience that, but I’m sure it’s inevitable!

Whether it’s my own children or my friend’s child, it hurts to see disappointment. Hopefully, I can fill my Mom’s shoes and show that results aren’t everything. Yes, they help and are fun, but in the BIG picture there is always something you can gain by just giving your best. Something you don’t realize or understand until you’re out of the “competition world”.

Heidi's son, Stefan, competing

Heidi’s son, Stefan, competing

I also try and make a point when I am at my son’s races to be low key. I missed my son Stefan’s first race this season. Many people said to me, “Oh you must be so bummed!”  Not really, because I know there will be plenty more! But, I know when I am there it’s a bit like the World Cup athletes competing at home. Mom always brings a bit of extra pressure not from my expectations, but other people assuming I’m watching with a fine comb. Although… I did reserve this coming Saturday to watch Stefan race!

Unfortunately for Lucas we won’t know if he gets to race at all this season until February 14 when his cast comes off. But, he will get on skis before the end of the season. That day will bring a smile to him and me. I bet I will have “Mom’s hat” on saying, “go slower”, “take it easy”, “let’s not make too many runs”, but I have a feeling Lucas will take off dancing on his skis!

Congrats to all of the World Cup competitors, volunteers and Deer Valley for putting on a showcase event!

See you on the slopes!

Life as a Patroller During World Cup

Thousands of ski fans flocked to Deer Valley Resort at the start of this month for the 2012 FIS World Cup. From Thursday, Feb. 2, through Saturday, Feb. 4, top skiers from around the world –including stars Hannah Kearney, Heather McPhie, Mikael Kingsbury and Dylan Ferguson – competed in freestyle moguls and aerials events. They launched themselves off bumps and jumps in a display of speed, agility, athleticism and daring that left virtually every viewer – from patrollers standing course-side to fans watching on TV at home – slack-jawed in amazement.

The World Cup represents a showcase for the resort’s Race Department, which along with the Snow Grooming, Snow Making, and Lift Operations departments, spent the week before the event constructing the courses and spectator areas. The crew was assisted by a legion of local volunteers who shaped each mogul and jump by hand. The result was stunning. In a few short days, they transformed the Champion and White Owl trails into challenging elite runs.

Champion, site of the 2002 Olympic freestyle mogul’s event and White Owl, home of the 2002 Olympic freestyle aerials proved a great venue once again. Both are located on Bald Eagle Mountain.

(Patrol manager Steve Graff, right, reviews the plan for World Cup before the start of the first session Thursday evening, as patroller Mark Chytka looks on.)

Patrol assisted with setup, hanging rope lines and baffle-fences along the sides of the course. Then, when warm-ups started Wednesday, and competition commenced Thursday, a team of patrollers took to the race hill to provide first aid for the athletes, coaches, and spectators, if needed.

Seventeen patrollers worked the event: 10 on-course, five in the spectator area, and two supervisors – one in the Bald Eagle patrol shack, the other roaming where needed.

“It’s a nice change of pace,” patroller Kate Atha said. “You’re not doing openers or 10-50s [radio-code for a skier wreck]. It’s a midseason refresher.”

Still, the World Cup days are long and cold. Patrollers working course-side typically stand outside for more than three hours at a time before rotating back to the patrol shack to warm up, eat, and rest. Once it was all over Saturday night, patrollers stayed past midnight, helping the race department, snow groomers, volunteers and others dismantle the course.

“It’s a good lesson in how to dress warm,” Atha said. “You’re not always moving, it’s not always sunny on Champion – or you’re working at night. So you’re wearing eight layers and mittens and heat packs, and you’re constantly eating.” Night events ran from about 7 or 8 p.m., depending on the day, to about 9:15 p.m., and temperatures dipped to 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Maitland Wiren and Kate Atha relax at the end of a long day Friday.)

The reward? The best seat in the house.

(The aerials course, lit-up for the finals Friday night.)

“You get to be right in the thick of the action,” patroller Hylton Early said. “When you’re right there working course-side and you see the athletes warming up and talking to their coaches, you get a much better understanding of the commitment and time the athletes put into it. You also get a much better sense of the size of the moguls, the speed the guys are going, how high they go off the jumps.”

The 10 patrollers who worked course-side were divided into pairs, which rotated roughly every 45 minutes through various stations on the courses. On Champion, the stations were located at the start gate, the first kicker, the second kicker, the finish, and the Bald Eagle patrol shack. On White Owl, patrollers stood watch at the jumps and below the landing area.

In addition to dealing with the cold, the work presented different challenges from a regular ski day, particularly on Champion: the runs proved especially slick, the moguls were enormous, and thousands of spectators were watching – not to mention the TV cameras.

“You got to be 100-percent solid with running sleds in bumps,” Atha said. “The course is hard enough for athletes to ski it. We’re responding to wrecks and skiing with sleds in those same bumps.”

(Patroller TJ Somers and Mark Chytka stand at the bottom of Champion during warmups on Wednesday.)

The three days of World Cup – four, if you include Wednesday’s practice session – provided an additional bonding experience for the patrollers working the event.

“You’re all putting in the sacrifice of the long hours and cold temperatures,” Early said. “It’s almost like pledging.”

Asked whether they plan to sign-up for World Cup next year, Early and Atha were unequivocal. “100 percent,” they said.

(The moguls and aerials courses Saturday night, as seen from overhead.)

The moguls and aerials events were broadcast on NBC on Saturday, Feb. 11. The dual moguls portion of the event were broadcast Saturday, Feb. 18, at 2:30 p.m. EST on NBC. For the results, as published on the official FIS website, click here.

 

A Note from Our President on President’s Day

To celebrate President’s Day and the height of the winter, we met up with Deer Valley Resort President, Bob Wheaton to get an update on this ski season.

What a year it has been! We’ve continued to invest each season in the resort’s snowmaking system, and this season the system was certainly put to the test! The team we have at the resort in every aspect of our operations is second to none and this becomes increasingly evident when Mother Nature sends us a curve ball. Prior to the welcomed storm cycle, I have certainly been enjoying the Deer Valley corduroy this year, while curving lines on Stein’s Way and Magnet.

I hope many were able to get out and experience our VISA Freestyle International World Cup event the first week of February. We added another evening event with moguls on Thursday. It is always a thrill to see the events under the lights. The event means a lot of extra work for staff but we are thrilled to host such an amazing group of athletes from around the world. Our partnerships with FIS (International Ski Federation) and with the US Ski Team are great for the resort.

The President’s Day holiday means March and spring skiing are right around the corner. In the Wasatch spring also brings its share of powder days. Whether its spring corn or fluff  I am looking forward to being on the mountain and enjoying the amazing efforts of the Deer Valley Team.

Hope to see you out there!

Bob Wheaton shares one of his favorite powder stashes:

Date Night—Park City Style.

Saturday night, with my little one well into his second dose of antibiotics, and the big one eager to hang with Claire-the-cool-babysitter, Ski Dad and I headed out for a double date with our friends Miriam and Josh.

(Seth filling out his own prescription)

As I laced up my Sorels, zipped my fleece, and made sure my pockets were stuffed with packets of hand-warmers, I started to giggle—partly with anticipation for a grown-up night out, and partly in appreciation of the difference between dressing for date night in New York City—skirt, heels, cute-but-not-necessarily-warm top—and date night in Park City. I shared this with our friends when we picked them up a few minutes later, and Miriam said, “I know—I’m not even wearing makeup! I didn’t see the point.”

The mood in the crowd was festive, excited and very social. We ran into tons of friends—and even made a few new ones. Here I am with my new pal Mike Hale—locals know him as the star of commercials for the Acura and Chevy dealerships he owns in Park City and in Salt Lake City. We know him as a newfound friend. He immediately struck up a conversation with us, introduced us to his son (also Mike) and, yep, talked skiing. (Ok, we talked a little bit about business—he was quick to tell me I don’t have to drive all the way to Salt Lake to get my car serviced, since his shop can work on any type of car. And that his team will also wash and vacuum the car after they work on it. Which, any mom will tell you, is enticement enough!)

 

Most impressively, Mike told us how much he’s enjoying his first season skiing—on his new knee. This, my friends, was a lot different than date night chatter in New York City. And, to boot, I got my breath taken away—multiple times—by the excitement of the dual moguls competitions.

Here’s why: People crash. They cross in and out of each other’s lines. Their bumps skiing goes awry—massively awry. And then, poof! They regain their line, their balance, their mojo, just in time for the second jump near the bottom of the course, and POW! They land these killer, killer tricks. Perfectly. And it happens again and again. My favorite moment in competition was watching two US Women—Heather McPhee and Hanna Kearney—go head-to-head in the finals. Astounding, inspiring. And I can’t wait until next year.

 

 

VISA Freestyle International including “behind the scenes…”

Since the beginning of the millennium, Deer Valley Resort has embraced freestyle skiing by hosting Freestyle World Cups, Olympics and World Championship events. This year was no exception and while the Utah resort bested itself once again, the top international freestyle athletes met at what is, without much debate, their favorite venue in the word.

With its mogul and aerial events, freestyle is one of the very few ski competitions that can be seen and enjoyed by the public from top to bottom, without solely relying upon a giant TV screen. Deer Valley’s venue is quite unique in the way it is shaped and configured and is designed to accommodate close to 7,000 cheering spectators. A number in that vicinity could have been counted on both the Friday and Saturday evenings that, by far, attracted the largest crowds.

I’m a bit partial to the mogul competition which is a true test in edge-to-edge quickness, rolling bumps that come at the competitors like a monster conveyor belt eager to swallow them, where there’s a need for electric knee-action interspersed with a couple of high powered jumps where athleticism, balance, sporting creativity and a lot of good luck combine to offering a breathtaking show. As a single event, moguls is plenty entertaining but in its dual format, the whole spectacle truly comes to life, builds up additional pressure, intensifies the excitement and let the athletes’ raw talent explode in full view of a cheering public.

The aerial competition on the other hand is like a high-speed elevator lift that boosts a skier high into the air, which materializes into seemingly unending airtime that can be used to execute all kinds of twisting and rotating maneuvers while the flight lasts and until it becomes time to land the skis securely and stylishly on a steep and short reception area. Each jump is another opportunity for the athlete to deeply concentrate; balance apprehension versus desire to excel and almost go for broke, hoping to better the last best jump!

Oh yes, while the world’s elite was delivering their perfect show, and the adults were riveted on their awesome performance, another “unofficial world cup” was being held just below the tent and the television house, right on the edge of the immense spectators platform, where the slope is steep. The 5 to 10 years old who are between 3 and 5 feet tall and might have been a bit too small to see everything World Cup, decided to hold their own snow-ball throwing contest and testing the low friction of their ski suits on Deer Valley’s famous great snow, and thinking they were champions in their own right!

Each evening has been marked with big crowds, loud cheers, and pressurized atmosphere with spectators and athletes in communion for pushing the envelope and chasing excellence. A wonderful way for our entire community of visitors, residents and visiting athletes from the world over to bond over a sport we all love!

If you missed the live action these three nights, these World Cup events hosted by Deer Valley Resort will be televised on NBC on February 11, 2012 at 1 pm. EST and on Versus February 11 and 18, 2012.

Here’s the Versus broadcasting Schedule (all times EST):

Freestyle Moguls 2/11/2012 2 pm.

Freestyle Aerials 2/11/2012 3 pm.

Freestyle Dual Moguls 2/18/2012 2:30 pm.