by Paul Maraschiello


I arrived in Park City, UT to cover four days of Freestyle competition where Olympic/World Cup Teams from all over the world would be fighting it out for the Gold. The venues included Moguls, Aerials, Skier Halfpipe and Dual Moguls. I was set for a great weekend and I wasn't disappointed and neither were the huge crowd of spectators.

I had reservations at the Westgate Resort in Park City during the event. This was a really first class hotel with all the things necessary to pamper a guest. They have in-door parking (always a nice thing in snow country) and the resort complex overlooked the Canyons ski resort in Park City. I had a one-bedroom suite on the top floor that boasts cathedral ceilings, fireplace, two TV's with cable, a kitchen/livingroom and a bedroom with a king-size bed and jacuzzi where I soaked my battered body after a hard day of skiing. The bathroom had a steam shower and the commode was in a room off the bathroom (always a nice touch especially when you are not alone). You will be staying in style if you are staying at the Westgate. It is located just a few miles from Interstate 80 and just a short drive from the heart of town in Park City and the Deer Valley ski resort.

This is the perfect winter destination for a luxury vacation, with unique ski-in/ski-out accommodations and a ski valet service. They are noted for Papillon the Spa that offers a full menu of spa services. Papillon offers unique treatments including the Butterfly Body Wrap, the Hot Oil Exhilarating Scalp Treatment, and the Sugar & Spice Mango Wrap but I did not take advantage of these spa treatments. If you want to pamper yourself and/or your lady, book a reservation at the Westgate. Their rates start at $99 per person per night and go up from there. For reservations call (888) 808-7410 and tell them the Ski Bum News sent you.

The mogul competition was intense. These bumpers were flying down the course throwing Iron-cross Back Flips, D-spins, 720s, Helicopters on the two mandatory jumps on the corse without missing a turn. The moguls are judged on jumps, speed and turns. All the skiers' knees were pumping like pistons as they sped down the course so fast that it boggled the mind just to watch them.

On the podium for the women, USA's Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) took the Gold with a 22.91, her team-mate little Michelle Roark (Denver) placed 2nd with 21.75. Austrian Margarita Marbler was 3rd with 20.80 and Canadian Jackie Brown scored 20.63. This gave Hannah the lead in World Cup freestyle standings and she was awarded the coveted yellow bib. This was Kearney's second win of the season and she has been on the podium every time she has competed.

Kearney skied conservatively in her first run and avoided making any mistakes but she went all out on her second run. By skiing more aggressively, she secured the 1st place Gold. Being a Vermonter may have given Hanna an edge because it had rained earlier in the week and the mogul course was a bit icy. Luckily skiers who ski in the East have learned the value of a good tune and sharp edges. When I lived at Killington, I would sharpen my skis on a daily basis if there was no new snow. "Tune them to turn them," was my mantra in the good old days when I would show off on the ice on Conclusion.

Petite Michelle Roark did a 720 that wowed the spectators at Deer Valley, the toughest course on the World Cup circuit. It was a real pleasure seeing Michelle on the podium again. The US Women's Team had a strong showing with Shannon Bahrke finishing 6th, Kayla Snyderman 7th and Shelly Roberts finishing in 8th place.

On the podium for the men were Guilbaut Colas (France) in 1st place with a score of 24.62, Canadian Alexandre Biloeau came in 2nd with 24.20 and USA's Pat Deneen ( Cle Elum, WA) nailed 3rd with a score of 23.99. Frenchman Anthony Benna placed 4th with 23.49.
Deneen threw a huge "truck driver" that blew my mind as I watched this bumper fly down the icy course. Americans Landon Gardner was 7th and David Digravio came in 10th on the most difficult bump course on the Freestyle World Cup.

Following the moguls competition Michael Franti and the band Spearhead rocked out on Park City's Main St. to kickoff this weekend of fun.

One of the most spectacular events in sports is the Aerials where skiers speed down the hill and execute death-defying jumps off a 60 foot kicker.
USA's Ryan St. Onge took the Gold by putting it all on the line for his 6th World Cup win. Ryan flawlessly executed a back full, double full, full (3 flips with a single twist on first and third revolutions and double twist on the second revolution). St. Onge had only performed this jump once this season but he rally nailed it. He did a great jump in training and believed he could do it for the win. He was right. He was carried to the podium by his joyous teammates who were celebrating his win.

On the podium for the men, 1st place winner Ryan St. Onge (Winter Park, Co) scored 254.89, Zhongquin Liu (China) was 2nd with 249.79, Steve Omischl (Canada) was 3rd with 247.92 and Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (Boise, ID) was edged off the podium and landed in 4th with 242.42.

The event will be broadcast nationally on Versus on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 4 PM ET.

I have been following St. Onge's career for years in the Ski Bum News. His family were on hand to see this well-earned victory. He loves jumping at night and "winning here is special", he said. He decided to go BIG on that second jump and it really paid off. He hit a good takeoff and stretched in the air. He got his feet down and made all his fans and family very happy. His dad was so happy that he had to hold back tears of joy, I heard someone tell Ryan.

For the ladies, it was China's Nina Li who took the Gold with a score of 194.67, her team-mate Xinxin Guo took the silver with 191.54 and cute Emily Cook (Belmont, MA) held up the honor of the US Woman's Team with a score of 178.21. Veronika Bauer (Canada) came in 4th with 167.07 points.

This was Emily Cook's second third place podium this season. She was also on the podium two weeks ago in Lake Placid and she was a real happy camper (or should I say jumper) at Deer Valley. She was really excited with so many friends and family watching her perform. Cook had a great first jump (a double-full-full) which she landed her on the podium in Lake Placid as well as Deer Valley.

This year, the weather wasn't as cold as the pervious two years and the large crowd saw a really great show under the lights. It was a cliff-hanger until the last man came off the kicker where "Speedy" was just aced off the podium. There was a huge crowd estimated at nearly 5,000 spectators at Deer Valley who cheered on the athletes under the lights for the Aerial Finals. A few of the mothers of US Ski Team members were up front, cheering on the team.

I met Matt DePeters who finished 18th and talked to him at Deer Valley as well as Lake Placid. We both grew up in the Buffalo area and I'm interested in finding out a little more about this high-flying guy. He really enjoyed watching the events at Deer Valley.

Skier Halfpipe
On the podium for the Women's USA's Angeli VanLaanen (Evergreen, CO) came in 1st place with 36.5, Canada's Megan Gunning was 2nd with 34.8, France's Anais Caradeux placed 3rd with 33.9 and Switzerland's Virginia Faivre was 4th with 33.0. VanLaanen's winning run included a 540 mute, right 540, another corked out 540, big straight air with a grab, and ended with a 720.

This was Angeli VanLaanen first World Cup win. She lost a ski in the pipe during her first run, but came back STRONG in her second run, landing a huge 720 to nail first place. Canadian Megan Gunning fell on her second run but her first run was enough to put her on the podium.

The Mens Skier Halfpipe event had two Frenchmen on the Podium with Kevin Rolland in 1st place with a score of 48.1, Xavier Bertoni 2nd with 47.2 and USA's Walter Wood (Evergreen, CO) with 46.1. Michael Riddle from Canada was 4th with 45.5.

Frenchman Kevin Rolland did double back flips on the first hit of each run. Team-mate Xavier Bertoni took the Gold last weekend at the X Games and leads the ski halfpipe World Cup standings with Rolland in second place in the standings.

USA's Walter Wood secured a place on the podium with a run that started with a 1260 then a 540, crossing over the pipe and throwing a 900, ending with a 900 to 1440, which energized the crowd.

Dual Moguls
The 2009 Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley was "mano-a-mano" under the lights as the top male and female bumpers dueled down the hill. The course was fast and these mogul maniacs were running the course in as little as 25 seconds. The skiers were judged on speed, jumps and turns and it was amazing to watch these athletes compete.

For the men, Frenchman, Guilbaut Colas just beat out USA's David Babic (Washington, VT) who was 2nd, Alexandr Smyshlyaev (Russia) was 3rd and Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau was 4th. The field started out with 16 male competitors and the winner of each heat went on to battle for the Gold.

Several times we saw two US team-mates compete with each other as the field was whittled down. Dave Babic went head-to-head with Jeremy Bloom and aced him out as he went on to face Colas. Earlier that evening, Jeremy was racing team-mate David DiGravio in the opening round when DiGravio went off course and landed on top of Bloom! Luckily, Blooms NFL conditioning and natural toughness allowed him to take the hit and keep on skiing. Who says skiing isn't a contact sport.

For the women, it was Jennifer Heil from Canada who toped the podium in 1st place, USA's Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) placed 2nd, Nikola Sudova (Czech Republic) was 3rd. USA's Eliza Outtrim (Steamboat Springs, CO) finished in 4th place.

The venue was packed and the crowd cheered their favorite skiers on to victory. Heil was pitted against USA's Hannah Kearney in the last round. They were neck-and-neck all the way down the course and it was very exciting to see these top women athletes battle it out in the bumps. Kearney has had four podium finishes out of four races this season. Kearney said it was an incredibly difficult course that didn't leave any room for error.

The Dual Moguls and Halfpipe will be aired by NBC on 2/8/09 at 3:00 PM and Versus will air the Aerials at 4:00 PM and Moguls at 5:00 PM.