Parkite Williams wins first World Cup
Strong first run propels local skier to the top
Freestyle skier McRae Williams has accomplished much in his career. The 26-year-old Parkite has claimed a number of titles, including an X Games gold medal. He also ranked No. 1 in the world by the Association of Freeskiing Professionals in 2015.
One circuit Williams never quite figured out was the FIS World Cup, where he had six starts heading into the competitions in Font Romeu, France over the weekend. He’s made it on the podium once before, but never had he come that close to winning.
But then Saturday happened.
Behind a strong first run that saw him throw down a 92.80, Williams rode to his first World Cup men’s slopestyle win over the weekend, something he’s been trying to get for some time.
“It feels great,” Williams said in an interview with the Park Record. “I’m super stoked. … To finally [win a World Cup] and [to] add to the resume feels awesome. I’ve accomplished a lot of my other goals. … But I haven’t been able to get a World Cup win, which nowadays is a big deal in our sport.”
Joining Williams on the podium was Sweden’s Jesper Tjader in second and Alex Bellemare of Canada in third. It was also a successful day for the rest of the Americans, as three others placed in the Top 10: Alex Hall in fourth, Nick Goepper in fifth and Joss Christensen in ninth.
Due to intense weather following the qualifier runs, the final runs were cancelled. This meant the qualifiers would count for the final standings, which left Williams atop the leaderboard.
Even with the help of Mother Nature, Williams is confident his score would’ve held had the finals run as scheduled.
“That’s definitely a heavy score, so it’s a big confidence boost to lay down a run and be clean top to bottom,” Williams said. “That’s been tough to do the last couple of competitions for me.”
Freestyle skiing is going through somewhat of a youth renaissance, at least in Williams’ eyes, as there are teenagers currently on these tours that are at the top of the sport. At age 26, Williams was worried that maybe his time passed, but with his recent win, he’s found a second wind to keep him going throughout the rest of the season.
And with the X Games coming up in just a couple weeks and an Olympic year just on the horizon, this is the perfect time for the local skier to find his footing.
“I’m kind of at the back of the pack as far as age goes,” Williams said. “I’m just trying to keep up with all the young guns. I mean, there’s kids like [16 or 17 years old] just crushing it.
“I kind of felt like I was running out of time with that, but to get that win feels amazing. Definitely a confidence boost.”
Williams returned to Park City following his win in France, where he will stay until Monday before departing for Aspen, the site of this year’s X Games. With his confidence sky-high, Williams has big aspirations for the coveted event.
“For me personally, growing up and watching X Games and stuff, that’s kind of the [ultimate goal] in our sport for me,” Williams said. “To be just a week away from that and know that I can put down a score like that, that could probably get me up on the podium there.”
The X Games will start on Jan. 26 and go until Jan. 29 in Aspen. Williams, along with fellow Parkite Christensen, will compete in the men’s ski slopestyle competition.
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