MOGULS, DUAL MOGULS AND AERIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

By Paul Maraschiello

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We arrived at Deer Valley to cover the FIS freestyle championships where top athletes from all over the world were competing in the bumps and in the air. We were looking forward to a thrilling weekend and we were not disappointed. The reigning champions were successful in defending their titles.



The U.S. Ski Team collected three medals in the individual mogul competition with Jeremy Bloom winning a silver medal and Michelle Roark doing the same for the women. Toby Dawson picked up a bronze medal. First place was taken by Mikko Ronkainen of Finland who made a hot final run that earned 28.09 points and the gold medal. Bloom, finished with 27.33 and Dawson had 27.22. Olympic medalist Travis Mayer (Steamboat Springs, CO) came in fourth with a 26.85 for the men.

World Cup and Olympic champion Kari Traa of Norway won the individual moguls competition for the women with a run of 27.99. Roark from Denver, the 1999 dual moguls World Cup champ earned second place with a 27.13 and Stephanie St. Pierre from Canada was awarded the bronze medal with a score of 26.46. Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke from Tahoe City, CA placed fourth.

DUAL MOGULS



The next day, the dual moguls featured the top bump skiers going mano-a-mano down through the bumps. Jeremy Bloom, the University of Colorado football player, overcame a shattered ski and tore-up the bottom half of the course to win the dual moguls gold medal at the FIS Freestyle World Championships, beating Yugo Tsukita from Japan who came in second. Teammate Toby Dawson from Vail took the bronze, giving the men's team a total of four medals, a gold and silver for Bloom and two bronze medals for Dawson.

Kari Traa of Norway repeated as women's duals champ with Russian Marina Cherkasova in second place and Shannon Bahrke winning the bronze and rounding out the US Ski Team's medal tally to an even half dozen.

Because he already had a silver medal, Bloom went all out for the gold and successfully knocked off Japan's Yugo Tsukita in the dual moguls final at Deer Valley Resort. Bloom spotted his broken ski as he got set for his run against Canadian Scott Bellevance. Lucky for him, the course was on hold because Finn Janne Lahtela had wiped out the timing gear at finish line. Bloom had backup skis at the bottom of the course which were fetched by a coach so he didn't have to make his run on borrowed skis.



The skiing was unbelievably great with skiers battling each other for the fastest times through the bumps. Fast runs were combined with the biggest air as competitors made the two mandatory jumps on the course. Not only did the skiers have to fly down the mogul field with their knees pumping like pistons, they had to make two jumps on every run. We saw men and women perform Spread Eagles, Twisters, Daffies, Back Scratchers, and Zudnicks. Helicopters, Heli-Xs, 720s and Mute Grabs that racked up extra points for these mogul maniacs.

The course, which is the longest on the FIS circuit was in good shape, although the warm weather made things a little soft. There were more than a thousand fans in attendance cheering their favorite bump-bashers on to victory.



BIG AIR IN THE NIGHT AIR



The final event was the big air competition which took place under the lights. This was truly a crowd-pleasing event highlighted by the world's best aerialists sailing 60 feet into the night air.

Australian Olympic aerials champion Alisa Camplin set a women's world record by winning the gold medal as the World Championships and Russian Dmitri Arkhipov won the men's event.

Camplin had 207.31 points with Canadians Veronika Bauer and Deidra Dionne in second and third.

In the men's contest, Arkhipov, received 259.65 points for his two quad-twisting-triples (four twists, three flips). Grichin (BelaRus) took silver at 257.98 with Canadian Steve Omischl winning the bronze with 251.20. At the press conference, Grichin lamented that he didn't attempt a more difficult trick for his second run. He played it safe and it cost him the gold.



There was even a little romance on the podium. Alisa Camplin has been romantically involved with Steve Omischl. This is definitely love in the fast lane (or should I say in the big air). They have been together since the Olympics and this is the first time these two lovebirds have shared a podium. When Steve flipped over Alisa he really FLIPPED over her!

This was the second time I had seen aerials performed under the lights and it was a fantastic spectacle. They had a pyro-dance group entertaining between events and a big-screen TV that followed the athletes down the hill.



There were thrills and spills at all the events. We saw stupendous crashes as aerialists bounced down the hill after missing their landings. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt.



This was one of the best freestyle events I have ever attended. There was a very appreciative crowd who turned out to partake in the festivities. Former Olympic great Stein Erickson was there, along with many other VIPs.



THE SKIING



I got a chance to do a little skiing while I was at Deer Valley. This is a really great ski area with a lot of interesting, challenging terrain. We skied most of the black diamond and blue trails at Deer Valley and can report that they did a good job grooming their trails. We sampled the trails on Bald Eagle, Bald and Flagstaff Mountains. The view from the top was enough to take your breath away.



Upper Wizard was very steep at the top but because it was well groomed, it was very skiable. We took runs down Evergreen and Tycoon and rode the Sultan chair. Legal Tender, Nabob and Keno were in really good shape. We rode the Sterling chair a lot and really enjoyed trails like Birdseye and Northstar. Birdseye, Naybob and Keno had a tendency to get bumped up late in the day, but the moguls were manageable. On Flagstaff Mt., we ran into some interesting bumps at the top of Hidden Treasure.



All-in-all, Deer Valley is a really great mountain with lots of terrain to challenge the skiing skills of every skier. They don't allow snowboards. It is a well laid-out ski area that is a lot bigger than it looks from the base lodge. The food was excellent and there was live entertainment at happy hour in the base lodge. One of the nicest amenities was a free ski-check where you can leave your skis overnight. Even though they were hosting a major FIS event, the trails and lift-lines were uncrowded. I give Deer Valley high marks in all categories. The mountain boasts 1,750 skiable acres with a 3,000 vertical. There are 19 chairlifts and a high-speed gondola. They have 88 trails with snowmaking on over 500 acres.

SALT LAKE CITY



We were staying at the Sheridan in Salt Lake City. The accommodations were very nice and we were only 45 minutes from Deer Valley, as well as all the other ski areas in that part of Utah. This hotel was first class and had a nice hot tub and an excellent restaurant. Staying in Salt Lake gave us a chance to check out the sights and sample what the capitol of Utah has to offer. If you are going to visit a number of ski areas, staying in Salt Lake is a very economical alternative to staying on the mountain.



If you are looking for a first class ski experience, you can't go wrong with a visit to Deer Valley. This upscale ski resort goes out of its way to offer the visitor an above average skiing experience. Friendly staff, excellent eating facilities and a big mountain will delight skiers of every ability. The absence of snowboarders will also make some skiers happy.



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