Deer Valley hosting Visa Freestyle International | ParkRecord.com

Deer Valley hosting Visa Freestyle International

American athletes look forward to coming home

Deer Valley Resort event crew members work to set up the aerials venue on White Owl, a black diamond run, for the annual Visa Freestyle International competition Monday afternoon. Events will begin Thursday, Feb. 2 and run through Saturday, Feb. 4.

Traveling the entire world for the FIS World Cup, most athletes on the tour don't get to visit home until the tour ends. These competitors say goodbye to home and move from hotel room to hotel room for roughly five months.

For a lucky few U.S. ski team athletes, such as Brad Wilson and Ashley Caldwell, one of the stops on the tour is like coming home. U.S. athletes are happy to compete in the Visa Freestyle International event at Deer Valley Resort after spending much of their season abroad.

"This is the event that I, and most people, look forward to all year," Wilson said. "It's just that event that's kind of turned into the iconic stop for our tour. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

The event, which begins on Thursday and will go through Saturday, is just one of two stops in America for the World Cup, with the other one being in Lake Placid on Jan. 13-14. The mogul competition will take place on Thursday, while the aerials competition will go on Friday. Saturday is reserved for the dual moguls competition.

Additionally, the aerials will be the first qualifying event for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. Each day will conclude with a fireworks session.

"I'm super excited to be back at Deer Valley," Caldwell said. "This site is always incredible, especially the volunteer staff. I've never seen people work so hard."

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Caldwell is currently the top American athlete in the aerial World Cup standings, sitting in third with 146 points. Though she wasn't born in Park City, it's become her home after moving here toward the beginning of her career.

"I love Park City," Caldwell said. "I train up at the Utah Olympic Park. I consider this home base now. I really love it here, especially when it dumps a lot of snow and it's super sunny and nice."

Wilson is also in the same boat. Though he was born and grew up in Montana, Wilson competed in the same region as Deer Valley growing up. He considers it his home mountain, and now, he's sponsored by the resort.

From watching the events as a kid at Deer Valley to competing in them as an adult, the resort holds a special place in Wilson's heart.

"I just feel lucky being able to call this mountain my home," Wilson said. "I'm glad to be here and glad to be home. It's good to have family here watching and all that. But I'm just mostly feeling lucky that we're having this event here at Deer Valley."

Wilson also plans to take in the comfortability that comes with being home, although his mind will undoubtedly be focused on the week's events

"It's a good little refreshing kind of stop for us, too, because we have a chance to go home and chill for a bit," Wilson said. "Take a day off and hang out before we really start to hit it again. Not too many people on tour have that opportunity."

Friends and family will undoubtedly come out for the rare American stop of the World Cup tour, as both Wilson and Caldwell are expecting a contingent of support in the crowd. That said, another reason why this is a looked-forward-to stop for all athletes on tour is because of the welcoming crowd that flocks to Deer Valley.

"It's pretty unique," Wilson said. "Because I think everybody on tour, no matter what country they're coming from, will get some sort of push or support from the crowd, just because of the mass amount of people.

"Being American and having family and friends will give me more support, but overall, the atmosphere and the crowd overall is positive for everybody."

 

Schedule for the Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley

Wednesday, Feb. 1, Main Street Celebration Concert

  • 7 – 10 p.m., Opening Ceremony and Concert on Lower Main Street. Fireworks to follow.

Thursday, Feb. 2, Mogul Competition

  • 3 – 4 p.m., Ladies’ Mogul Qualifications on Champion
  • 5 – 6:25 p.m., Men’s Mogul Qualifications on Champion
  • 7 – 8 p.m., Ladies’ and Men’s Mogul Finals on Champion
  • 8:10 p.m., Awards at the Finish Area

Friday, Feb. 3, Aerial Competition

  • 2:45 – 3:20 p.m., Ladies’ Aerial Qualifications on White Owl
  • 5 – 5:50 p.m., Men’s Aerial Qualifications on White Owl
  • 7:35 – 7:50 p.m., Showcase on White Owl
  • 8 – 8:50 p.m., Ladies’ and Men’s Aerial Finals on White Owl
  • 9 p.m., Awards at the Finish Area

Saturday, Feb. 4, Dual Mogul Competition

  • 4:55 – 6:40 p.m., Ladies’ and Men’s Dual Mogul Prelim Rounds on Champion
  • 7 – 8:20 p.m., Ladies’ and Men’s Dual Mogul Finals on Champion
  • 8:25 p.m., Awards at the Finish Area

**Fireworks will end each day of events.**

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