Deer Valley hosts huge WC freestyle weekend


Two nights of intense action – aerials on Friday and dual moguls Saturday – will sandwich the inaugural World Cup ski cross event in North America as the Visa Freestyle International returns to Deer Valley Resort. NBC and Versus will televise coverage of the weekend.
Two nights of intense action – aerials on Friday and dual moguls Saturday – will sandwich the inaugural World Cup ski cross event in North America as the Visa Freestyle International returns to Deer Valley Resort. NBC and Versus will televise coverage of the weekend.
    Recent storms have blanketed the Wasatch Mountains with nearly three feet of snow, but Deer Valley's course crews have stayed ahead of the snowfall and kept the venues in good shape.
    "There's no impact on duals because that's not until Saturday night. When they scrape off the snow, aerials will be fine and skicross will be wild, as it always is," Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen said Thursday night as the third storm of the week rolled over the region. "This should be another fun weekend."
    "It's going to be exciting, no question. I think people who watched ski cross from the X Games over the weekend [on ESPN] saw some of the action and thrills that can come out of this," said U.S. Head Coach Tyler Shepherd. SX qualifying is set for Friday with finals Saturday.
    Aerials gets the World Cup competitions rolling with competition Friday night on White Owl, which served as the 2002 Olympic and 2003 FIS Freestyle World Championships venue. Ryan St. Onge and Emily Cook lead the up-and-coming U.S. aerials troupe.

Busy Saturday lineup
Saturday afternoon, the ski cross finals will be held on Solid Muldoon. Dual moguls will complete the weekend lineup Saturday night on Champion, one of the toughest bumps runs on the World Cup circuit. The length, steepness and elevation – plus the break-neck, adrenaline-pumping action of side-by-side skiing – combined to produce a high-energy package.
    "Anything can happen in duals," according to Wintersteen. "Some athletes get a little unnerved because there's someone on their 'wing,' who's in their peripheral vision. Some may not be used to that closeness and it can set them off a little bit. But duals is always intense."
    Shepherd, the first U.S. skicross head coach, likes what he's seen as he watched construction of the SX course. "This is an outstanding course. Deer Valley surveyed it during the summer and they've done a great job constructing it."
    The competition will showcase the premier ski cross athletes in the world, including former U.S. Ski Team alpine racers Daron Rahlves, the X Games skicross gold medalist Sunday night; Casey Puckett; Jake Fiala; and JJ Johnson plus newcomer Errol Kerr. Czech Tomas Kraus, who has won the two SX world championships, which have been conducted, leads the foreign competition along with Canadain Stanley Hayer.

The best SX riders on display
"We'll see the best athletes there are," said Shepherd, who competed in the 2005 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships as SX joined the FIS schedule.
    NBC will televise its SX coverage Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. ET and aerials coverage at 5 p.m. Versus will have skicross coverage Feb. 17 at 4 p.m.
    Qualifying for the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge aerials contest begins Friday morning with finals at night. Saturday, the dual moguls qualifying will take place in late afternoon with finals under the lights.
    Live entertainment will conclude the program each night following the awards ceremony.

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