Wilson Lands Bronze in Moguls | ParkRecord.com

Wilson Lands Bronze in Moguls

by Matthew Piper, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assoc.

CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BC (Feb. 14) – Bryon Wilson (Butte, MT) stomped a huge finals run for a bronze medal Sunday night, completing a meteoric rise to the sport’s elite that began with a surprise World Cup appearance in December. Wilson sat second to defending gold medalist Dale Begg-Smith of Australia until Canada’s Alexandre Bilodeau laid down a 26.75 for the country’s first-ever gold medal on home soil.

"It’s been a pretty amazing ride," said Wilson, who broke through as a "B" team alternate when an injury to a teammate led to two starts and two second places in Finland. "A year ago, I was just trying to make the Olympics. When I was down there after my run, I knew I had a big one and a good score. It was amazing."

Qualifying third behind Bilodeau and France’s Guilbaut Colas, Wilson knew he needed a strong performance to keep his standing and he perfectly executed a double full at the first jump – the same daring stunt that served him well in Finland.

"A double full up top is a pretty tricky trick," Wilson said. "I knew I had to not rush it. I nailed it, and it felt really good.

"I just wanted to land that top air. Once I did that, I just kind of let it go."

The penultimate skier, Bilodeau, sped into first with the night’s third-fastest time and precision carving through the bumps. Bilodeau was the only other competitor to attempt – and land – a backflip with two twists.

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The 21-year-old Wilson, who has won several awards as a wood carver in his spare time, won the U.S. Championship in 2009 to secure his spot on the "B" team, and was a former Junior World Champion.

Knowing he had likely made the team with his two podiums, Wilson focused on the one area he knew he couldn’t match the world’s elite.

"Guilbaut’s really fast, so I knew I had to pick up my speed," he said. "That’s what I’ve been working on at the past few World Cups. I was really trying to up my speed to compete with these guys."

Still the slowest of the top seven finishers, Wilson made up for it with tight turns and the best air score (5.46) in Saturday’s competition.

"I felt really good on this course," Wilson said. "The conditions were awesome today. It was the best day we’ve had here."

Wet and windy weather were the source of concern at Cypress Mountain all week, but temperatures cooled down and rain clouds cleared up for Saturday night’s grand finale.

The U.S. qualified all four of its men’s moguls team for finals, with Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, WA) in 10th, Nate Roberts (Park City, UT) in 16th, and Michael Morse (Duxbury, MA) in 19th.

Wilson’s U.S. teammates had to step on the gas early, however, to make an impression from such early start positions, and the risk cost them with Morse losing control of a few turns to take 15th, followed by Deneen crashing on the final jump and Roberts losing control at a blistering pace for non-scoring runs.

Still, the U.S. Olympic Freestyle Moguls Team collected quite the haul in these Games, with three of six medals after Hannah Kearney won gold and Shannon Bahrke took bronze in the women’s event Saturday evening.

"It was cool for me to come in and get a medal after Hannah won yesterday and Shannon got the bronze," Wilson said. "I watched Hannah’s run and I decided that’s what I wanted to do."

Wilson’s bronze is the third by a U.S. male moguls participant and marks the fourth time out of five official Olympic competitions that a U.S. male has reached the podium.

OFFICIAL RESULTS 2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES

  • Cypress Mountain – Feb. 14
  • Men’s Freestyle Moguls
  • GOLD – Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada, 26.75
  • SILVER – Dale Begg-Smith, Australia, 26.58
  • BRONZE – Bryon Wilson, Butte, MT, 26.08
  • 4. Vincent Marquis, Canada, 25.88
  • 5. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, 25.83
  • 15. Michael Morse, Duxbury, MA, 23.38
  • RNS – Patrick Deneen, Cle Elumk, WA; Nate Roberts, Park City, UT