U.S. freestyle World Cup stops announced
Hundreds of the world's best freestyle athletes will hit the U.S. for the final two stops prior to their Olympic team naming as the 2010 Visa Freestyle International and Nature Valley Freestyle Cup World Cup events hit Deer Valley Resort in Park City and Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid during the month of January.
The freestyle action gets started Jan. 14-16 at Deer Valley, the 2002 Olympic venue, with moguls and aerials events. For three days, spectators in Utah will be able to watch as the talent of the freestyle world, which includes aerials World Champion Ryan St. Onge (Winter Park, CO), moguls World Champion Pat Deneen (Cle Elum, WA), moguls World Cup champion and World Championship bronze medalist Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT), and many more, as they look to pack on one more World Cup win just two competitions before the Olympics.
"The World Cup at Deer Valley is one of our best marquee competitions and each year the energy and intensity of the events gets better. They strive to raise the bar, and accomplish it," USSA Vice President of Events Calum Clark said. "The Resort and organizing committee does an incredible job at putting on an event that the freestyle community looks forward to participating in each year."
Deer Valley Resort, which will host the FIS Freestyle World Championships for the second time in 2011, is thrilled to have the freestyle world competing at its mountain just a month before the Olympics begin in Vancouver.
"With the 2010 Olympics just around the corner, it will be very exciting for the spectators to get a chance to experience up close and personal the spectacular athletes we’ll soon be watching on television during the Olympic Games," says Bob Wheaton, Resort president and general manager. "In addition, since we’re hosting the prestigious 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships here at Deer Valley next winter, it’s important for our staff and numerous event volunteers to hone their skills and garner more experience. We consider our race courses, and the crews who work on our World Cups the best in the world – from the volunteers, to the coaches, judges, technicians and staff. And of course, the gifted athletes who compete on our mountain are so inspiring. We’re honored to have them here."
Things get going Jan. 14 with a moguls competition featuring Kearney, Deneen, 2002 Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA), World Champion Nate Roberts (Park City, UT) and World Cup aces Emiko Torito and Michelle Roark (both Denver, CO) will be followed up that night with a fireworks display and a concert on Park City's Main Street.
Fireworks will also cap off the aerials competition on Jan. 15 where St. Onge, along with World Cup winners Emily Cook (Belmont, MA) and Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (Boise, ID) will look to put on a fun show for the Park City crowd. The traditional night moguls competition, held under the lights on Jan. 16, will finish the event weekend.
"Deer Valley is basically the nicest and best place we can compete at every year," St. Onge said. "It is absolutely the best competition as far as conditions, weather, and site preparation goes. For us to go there, it is easy and fun."
The focus then shifts coasts as the final World Cup before the Olympics touches down in New York's own winter Olympic venue - Lake Placid - Jan. 21 - 24. The competitions will be the final chance for athletes to qualify for the 2010 Olympics as they compete in each of the sports the Games will feature.
"The Lake Placid event is going to be awesome," Clark said. "The cool thing about the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup is that it will feature all three of the Olympic freestyle disciplines and it will be the athletes' last chance to make the Olympic team. The pressure is on and the competitions are going to be intense"
"We are pleased to be working with The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in the execution of this World Cup Event. As the athletes prepare for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, we are hopeful that their experience here, in this two time Olympic Village, will help them be prepared for what lays ahead," ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer said. "The entire ORDA staff and volunteers at Whiteface and the Olympic Jumping Complex anxiously await their arrival."
The Nature Valley Freestyle Cup gets started Jan. 21 with moguls. On Friday, the Jan. 22, spectators will get the chance to see aerials at its finest - under the lights. One aerialist in particular is looking forward to a competition in Lake Placid as he uses it as a base for his training during the summer.
"Coming back to Lake Placid is awesome for me because it feels basically like a home base," St. Onge said. "I train there five to six months out of the year and for me to get to back and compete there, it's almost a home court advantage."
The weekend wraps up that Sunday with a ski cross race during which fans can catch X Games gold medalists Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) and Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) in their last stop before the sport's Olympic debut.
"From when I was 14 I've raced alpine events there and they were one of the best hills in the east. Now I'm back competing in ski cross. I'm still not used to the cold, but I like the hard fast snow they have. It's the only World Cup ski cross in the U.S., so it's an important race for me to show my home crowd what I can do and how cool this new discipline of skiing is," Rahlves said. "I'm looking forward to a shot at winning this seasons Lake Placid event. It will be the best chance Americans have to see the best in the world battling it out prior to the X Games and Olympic Games."
The action all takes place in January and events are open to the public for free.
The 2010 freestyle Olympic team will be named Thursday, Jan. 26.
2010 Visa Freestyle International Schedule:
Music and fireworks on Park City's Main Street
Aerials finals (night competition)
Awards and fireworks
Moguls finals (night competition)
Awards and fireworks
2010 Nature Valley Freestyle Cup Schedule:
Aerials finals (night competition)
Ski cross finals