The World Cup at Deer Valley Resort will have a local flair with four Wasatch Freestyle athletes set to compete
Beginning Thursday evening, some of the best moguls skiers in the world will compete at Deer Valley Resort as part of the Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International Ski World Cup.
But even with all of the world-class talent arriving in Park City, there will still be a local flair to the competition as at least four current or past members of the Wasatch freestyle program will take their chances at glory.
“It’s very important to us to find an avenue for young people who have the drive, desire and talent to achieve their best,” said Jon O’Brien, director of the Wasatch Freestyle program. “By having our athletes complete at an event like this, it shows that we are clearly providing those avenues for the younger athletes to succeed. For us though, it’s always about personal development. … It’s about being able to be the best athlete and person you are.”
Guaranteed to compete from the Wasatch program are Brad Wilson, Nick Page and sisters Madison and Kasey Hogg. Sabrina Cass is another member who qualified although it’s uncertain if she’ll compete, according to O’Brien.
Wilson and Page, who are both members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team, have some of the best chances at bringing home a medal for the program. Wilson, 27, and Page, 17, share a special bond Brad’s brother Bryan, a former bronze medalist at the 2010 Winter Olympics in moguls who now serves as a coach at Wasatch Freestyle.
“All the things they’ve done on snow and outside of it, it’s helped shape my character into the man I want to be,” Page said of the Wilson brothers. “They’ve taught me how to really work hard and become a professional, put others in front of yourself by doing that themselves. You can’t just have someone tell you to be those things, you have to be tight and shown them and that’s what they’ve done for me.”
Throughout the season thus far, Brad has two world cup starts both in Canada, finishing 17th on Jan. 25 at Mont Tremblant and 11th in Calgary last weekend. Meanwhile, Page has a 31st place finish in Mont-Tremblant and 21st place finish in Calgary at the same time.
Likewise, both athletes enjoyed success at last year’s U.S. national championships at Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire — but in different ways.
After finishing 14th in moguls, Brad took home the bronze medal in dual moguls. Opposite of Brad, Page finished 14th in dual moguls but took home the silver medal in moguls.
“I love watching Brad compete, although it’s way more nerve-wracking watching him compete than it was for me whenever I competed. … My butterflies go crazy,” Bryon said. “I treat Nick as our youngest brother because he’s just a really good kid and I’ve known him for years. He’s one of the hardest working athletes I’ve ever seen and that has translated to his success. … He’s just a pleasure to work with.”
For the Hogg’s, their journey to the mountainside at Deer Valley couldn’t be anymore different.
During the U.S. Selections competition held in Steamboat Springs in early January, Kasey, 17, thrived at the event and earned a spot to compete at the world cup — as well as being awarded a team jacket for her performance.
For Madison, she spent a few weeks waiting to see if she would be able to join her sister on the slopes — and that notification finally same on Sunday night.
According to O’Brien, both sisters have been working towards this goal for a long time so seeing them reach their goals has been a real joy to witness.
“They’ve distinguished themselves on the NorAm tour, where they’ve won and been consistently competitive week-to-week,” he said. “They’ve distinguished themselves as top athletes who are ready for this opportunity. They didn’t just fall into this chance. … They’ve worked incredibly hard to get to where they are and have earned the chance to ski in this event through their previous successes.”
While this is a big honor for the Wasatch Freestyle program, a chance to showcase the success of his athletes with acknowledgment they’re doing something right, O’Brien doesn’t believe this is the end goal.
“Most of our kids don’t get to the U.S. Ski team, but we’ve put a lot of our kids into medical school, some who’ve started businesses and just give back to the community,” O’Brien said. “Our idea is to instill a direction in young athletes that no matter what they’re doing in life, they’re going to do it really well,” O’Brien said. “There are different podiums in life for everyone. Our athletes take the values and lessons they’ve learned from Wastach Freestyle and apply that to their careers. … They usually end up being better people for it.”
O’Brien may be right about different podiums in life for everyone, but for Wilson, Page and the Hogg sisters, the only podium that matters are the ones this weekend.
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