Park City’s Troy Podmilsak earns his first World Cup podium finish
The teenager took home third in a big air competition in Switzerland
The 2022-23 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup season just kicked off over the weekend, and a Parkite has already earned some hardware.
Freeskier Troy Podmilsak took third place in the first stop of the big air World Cup circuit on Friday in Chur, Switzerland, for his first-ever World Cup podium. Podmilsak finished first in the qualifying round, and a score of 94.75 – the second-highest score of the finals – on his second run in the finals helped him come in third. Norway’s Birk Ruud won the event, and Canada’s Noah Porter MacLennan came in second.
“It was crazy, honestly,” Podmilsak said. “I don’t want to say that I expected it, but I feel like when you have that mindset of where you think you’re going to do well, it’s probably the best thing. But for it to actually be reality, it was pretty crazy.”
Podmilsak came into the season with plenty of momentum but not a lot of time on snow. The 18-year-old wrapped up last season by winning gold in slopestyle and big air at the junior world championships in March. However, he also sustained a heel injury that kept him off the snow until September.
“(Finishing on the podium) felt really good (and) reassuring,” Podmilsak said. “I wasn’t even sure that was I even going to be skiing this year, so kind of a big change in emotions. It really felt insane that I was able to take that much time off.”
But, he added, that extra time off also helped him hit the reset button mentally.
“I honestly think taking that much time off was probably good for me, in a way,” Podmilsak said. “Just living a completely different life and kind of forgetting about skiing. But coming back to it made me want it even more.”
In World Cup big air competitions, everyone receives three runs, and each athlete’s top two scores are added together. On his second run, Podmilsak threw down a triple cork 1800 with a mute grab to score a 94.75. He followed that up with a switch right double bio 1620 with a mute grab, which Podmilsak said he had learned in training for the event, for a score of 85.
“Just not even doing that trick on snow and to land it there, just kind of proved that if I could put my mind to something that I can do it,” he said. “And really, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve trained a trick, it’s just all muscle memory. I’ve done that trick, like, 1,000 times on an airbag, and it didn’t really matter that I didn’t do it on snow. To put those two together was just a big confidence boost.”
Podmilsak was ranked 29th in big air on the latest FIS Points List, and his best finish in a World Cup event out of the four he had previously competed in was a 27th-place result in 2019. But his performance in Switzerland shows how far he’s come.
“When I was in all those other events, I was very young and I had very little experience and I didn’t really know how to come into a contest and do well at the time,” Podmilsak said. “But I think last year really kind of stepped up my game when preparing for contests. It’s like they always say, you kind of win before the event has really started. And I think my training coming into this was just spot on. It was really just experience that made those positions go up a lot higher.”
Podmilsak entered the year on the U.S. Freeski Team’s rookie team, and he believes there’s still more to work on.
“It feels good getting that under my belt now,” he said. “I have a lot of room for improvement and a lot more to come, so it just feels good knowing this is only the beginning.”
The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation held their World Cup event at Park City this week. Using the track at the Utah Olympic Park. | David Jackson/Park Record
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