Freestyle World Cup set to fly Thursday | ParkRecord.com

Freestyle World Cup set to fly Thursday

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

It’s time to head for the snowy hills again.

The 2007 Chevrolet Freestyle International World Cup competition will hit the moguls hill at Deer Valley Resort this Thursday through Saturday. This is the ninth international freestyle event that Deer Valley has hosted and is slated to offer much of the same fan-friendly competition and entertainment that has become synonymous with the tour stop.

"We’re always really excited to host another World Cup and to welcome the athletes and have that energy," said Deer Valley communications manger and World Cup press center manger Erin Grady.

The event will begin on Thursday, Jan. 11, with a daytime moguls competition on Champion, the 2002 Olympic course. A nighttime aerials competition has also been added to Thursday’s lineup after unseasonably warm temperatures in Lake Placid, N.Y. canceled the aerials event that was slated for next weekend’s Nature Valley Freestyle World Cup at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex. On Friday evening, the focus will shift to White Owl hill for the aerials event under the lights. The duals moguls on Champion will wrap up the weekend with another nighttime competition on Saturday.

The event will welcome over 200 athletes from 28 countries, many of whom competed in last year’s Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. Although this is a post-Olympic year, the competition on the freestyle hill has still been fierce as the athlete’s battle for points to qualify for the World Championships.

The Americans are returning from a World Cup stop in Mont Gabriel, Quebec, Canada where Jeret "Speedy" Peterson finished third in the aerials competition. Peterson won with his signature "Hurricane" combination, which includes five twists and three flips. This marks the second time Peterson has podiumed with his unique entry. Scott Bahrke recorded his fist top-10 finish in eighth place. Utahn Lacey Schnoor was the lone American in the women’s competition and finished 12th. American Ryan St. Onge won aerials competition in China at the beginning of the season in December

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In moguls, Shannon Bahrke won the competition at the Canadian venue and fellow American Hannah Kearney was close behind in fifth.

"We’re really excited to have the Chevrolet Freestyle International here in our backyard especially after starting the season with three top-threes including two wins," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) public relations director Juliann Fritz.

Parkites will be excited to watch their city’s native son Nate Roberts this weekend after leading the American men with fifth place in Quebec.

"With him being the hometown guy, I think that it will add a lot of excitement," Fritz said.

Bahrke has been sharing the spotlight with other young American freestylists including Sho Kashima, who finished 12th in moguls last weekend, and local favorite Jay Bowman-Kirigin. The Salt Lake-bred Bowman-Kirigin, who was trained by the Deer Valley-based Wasatch Freestyle team, won two medals at the junior world championship last year and was the NorAm champ in dual moguls. This year, he placed well at U.S. Team Selections to qualify for the World Cup.

International stars Jennifer Heil of Australia and Dale Begg-Smith of Canada, will bring the talent that earned them Olympic medals in Turin to the Deer Valley course. Spectators will also want to keep an eye on Aussie Jacqui Cooper, who was the lead contender for gold in the 2002 Olympics before blowing her knee out just before the Games. She watched the Olympic competition from the stands in a wheelchair alongside American Emily Cook, who suffered a similar fate.

"It’s a great lineup of international and U.S. competitors at the Chevrolet Freestyle International," Fritz said.

The event isn’t just about style points and speed on the snow. As usual, Deer Valley has secured big-time talent to entertain the crowds that gather for the weekend’s nighttime competitions. On Friday, The Samples will perform on the side of the hill directly after the aerials competition followed by a fireworks show. On Saturday, The Wailers and another fireworks show will end the World Cup weekend.

"Everybody up here at Deer Valley is excited," said Grady. "Having it under the lights gives it that extra special atmosphere."

This past year, Deer Valley was awarded the 2011 Freestyle World Championships their first since 2003, making them the first freestyle venue to be awarded the event twice. Grady says that the Olympic hills and the fan-friendly atmosphere make it one of the most popular World Cup stops among athletes and spectators alike.

"We’ve kind of become known as a freestyle Mecca," Grady said.

All events are free to the public and may be accessed by a short climb to the competition hills. The final round of the moguls event will begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The added Thursday nighttime aerial event will start at 8:15 p.m. (women’s qualifying 3:45-4:30 p.m. and men’s 6:15-7:15 p.m.) Friday’s events will start at 6:45 p.m. Saturday’s events will begin at 6 p.m. For more information, call 800-424-DEER or visit http://www.deervalley.com.