K.C. Oakley wins Deer Valley moguls
January 13, 2015
It’s hard to have a better day than U.S. mogul skier K.C. Oakley had on Friday at Deer Valley.
In the morning, she found out she had qualified for the team that is currently in Austria for the 2015 Freestyle World Championships. Then, Friday night, she took to the mogul course for a World Cup competition and came away with her first career victory.
After crossing the finish line and waiting while Canadian sisters Maxime, Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe came down the Champion course, Oakley was ecstatic to find out her score held up for first place.
"This is just so fun," she said. "I’m just really weirded out right now. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s awesome. It’s maybe the best couple days ever. I’m processing it all still."
For Oakley, the result validated all the hard work she’s had to do in recent months to even be able to ski. Various injuries caused her to miss most of last season and to not be at full strength entering this season.
"That’s a long story," she laughed. "Last season, I had a nerve-entrapment injury, so I had to have an uninvasive surgery. In May, I broke my fibula, heel, dislocated my foot and tore a bunch of ligaments. So really, I just got back to skiing at Finland at our first World Cup and didn’t have a good result. In Calgary, it was a confidence boost at 11th. Then, finally, I was just feeling good [at Deer Valley] and I was able to rip the course."
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Her trademark speed was on full display on Friday night as well.
"I know speed is always on my side, so I was just going for it," she said. "My runs weren’t perfectly clean, but I just went for speed and apparently that worked out."
She added that she couldn’t imagine a better spot than Deer Valley to have the best result of her career.
"For me, coming back from injury, it was just about getting back out there," she said. "I love this course, especially at night with all that soft, sugar snow on there."
After Team USA’s Hannah Kearney wasn’t able to qualify for the finals, Oakley said she’s just glad someone else was able to step up and turn in a solid result. When asked how it felt to take down Canada’s Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Oakley said she hadn’t quite realized the magnitude of her victory yet.
"I hadn’t really thought about it, but yeah, it feels great!" she laughed.
Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe finished in second and third place, respectively.
Oakley wasn’t the only mogulist to land on the podium on Friday night, though. In the men’s race, Patrick Deneen showcased his incredible speed to find his way into the third position when all was said and done.
Deneen also dealt with offseason injuries, particularly to his meniscus, and was just glad to have a good result.
"For me, I’ve been having a pretty rough start to the season," he said. "I had surgery coming into the season, so I wasn’t fully prepared. I was just happy to ski consistently and ski the runs I skied. I definitely would have liked to have cleaner runs, but I made up for it by charging the rest of the course."
Deneen has had quite a bit of success at Deer Valley in the past, but said the course seemed a little bit different this year because of varying early-season conditions.
"The weather’s been really crazy here," he said. "It was really cold two weeks ago and now it’s really warm. I think that made it really tough for them to build the course.
"That being said, there were still some really sharp moguls in there. It skied differently than Deer Valley usually skis. They did such a great job, though. In some ways it was easier, in some ways it was more difficult, but it skied really, really great."
And, as always, Deneen said landing on the podium on U.S. soil is always a special occurrence.
"Any time at Deer Valley when you can be on the podium, it’s an incredible feeling," he said. "We had a great crowd tonight. It’s incredibly fun to ski in front of that many people."
Deneen finished behind Mikael Kingsbury (first) of Canada and Australia’s Matt Graham (second). Deer Valley skier Bryon Wilson finished in 10th place.
The mogul athletes now head to Kreischberg, Austria, for the World Championships. Mogul finals will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18.
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