World Cup freestyle comes to Park City
The entertainment just keeps coming in Park City in January. Just as the last of the filmmakers board their flights back to Los Angeles, a whole different brand of performers are just stepping off the plane.
This Thursday through Saturday, Park City will host the Visa Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR). But this is more than just a ski competition. The two resorts will host three days of high-flying, awe-inspiring and crowd-pleasing tricks on the snow. Besides the athletic competitions, all of which are free, there will also be a free concert, fireworks and plenty of fun.
According to U.S. Ski Team vice president of communications Tom Kelly, the annual Park City extravaganza is one the biggest ski events in the U.S. Not only is it fan-friendly, but the athletes also sing the venue’s praises. International freestylists like Deer Valley for the size of the hill, the impeccable grooming and the warm and exuberant audiences. For the Americans, it is all about the home-field advantage. Kelly said that the U.S. always seems to have a high winning percentage in Park City.
"It’s a good advantage for our athletes," Kelly said.
With fans heading up the hill en masse every day to watch the events, the Ski Team is always looking for ways to make it bigger and better. Last year, they featured the new Olympic sport of ski cross and this year they have added a skiing halfpipe event at PCMR.
The event will also feature the usual freestyle favorites, including aerials, moguls and dual moguls.
The first day of the World Cup will kick off with the moguls competition during the day, followed by a concert by Michael Franti and Spearhead that night. The concert, traditionally held over the weekend at Deer Valley, has been moved to lower Main Street. Kelly hopes the event will attract a much wider audience and share the festivities with the community.
On Friday, the athletic events become the nighttime entertainment with male and female aerialists soaring into the night sky.
Then on Saturday, it’s a full day of action all over the city starting with the halfpipe competition on Park City Mountain Resort’s superpipe. The crowds will barely have a chance to catch their breath before trekking over to Deer Valley to watch skiers duke it out in the dual-moguls competition.
This is only the third freestyle World Cup event of the year, so the athletes are just embarking on their season. In aerials, American Hannah Kearney will come into the mogul competitions with a World Cup win and a third-place finish under her belt. Local favorite Shannon Bahrke has also had a successful season so far. Americans Emiko Torito and Michael Morse, who both won World Championship titles at Deer Valley last year, will also be hitting the bumps to see if Deer Valley is still their lucky hill. In aerials, all eyes will be on Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, who took last year off, but won both competitions at the Deer Valley World Cup event the year before. Peterson won first place in a World Cup event in Lake Placid earlier this month and teammate Emily Cook took third.
In the halfpipe, Canada’s Sarah Burke looks to dominate the ladies’ event and France’s Xavier Bertroni should lead the men, although American Simon Dumont could challenge him. The PCMR pipe should also shine this weekend. It is one of just a handful of 22-foot deep pipes in the U.S. One was used at the X-Games, but this will be the first one featured in a World Cup event.
As competitions go, Kelly said that this is one of the best for the public to partake in. Fans need not know more than how dazzling the tricks are to enjoy a freestyle event and both venues offer unobstructed views of the entire competition.
For a complete schedule of the World Cup events, visit http://www.usskiteam.com
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Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin once landed in Deer Valley Resort for the Merrill Lynch Celebrity Ski Classic races. He spoke to The Park Record during the visit in 2004 about topics like America eventually embarking on a mission much more ambitious than the moon landings – a trip to Mars.