Hurricanes, Snow & Below Zero Weather at Deer Valley Freestyle Competition
by Paul Maraschiello


The FIS Freestyle competition at Lake Placid was canceled because of unseasonable temperatures which prevented snowmaking and the aerial event was held at Deer Valley under the lights on January 11th. I was lucky to be there covering the FIS Freestyle events that had been scheduled for that venue from January 11th through January 13th.

Thursday Aerials
US Ski Team's Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (Boise, ID) won BOTH aerial events by landing his famous "Hurricane". The first event took place in a raging snowstorm Thursday under the lights and "Speedy" set a new record score of 268.70 points for his first win in 16 months. Steve Omischl from Canada was 2nd with 242.92 and Sen Qiu from China was 3rd with 240.37.

Peterson did it the hard way, with two face plants! He crash twice in training before winning the final round. "I nailed the Hurricane - finally!" we heard him exclaim. Here he is, landing on his face. The weather was nasty, but he didn't keep him from throwing the five-twister in finals.

For the women aerialists, it was Jacqui Cooper, Australia, taking the Gold with 219.81 points, Nina Li, China, took the Silver with a186.64and Alla Tsuper, Belarus took the Bronze with183.38 points. For Australian, Jacqui Cooper, it was her 19th World Cup event, She also set a record with 219.81 points.

This was a record day at the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team after an American sweep of the top spots in moguls earlier in the day.

Reigning world champion and Park City local, Nate Roberts and Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) led a three-podium World Cup performance by U.S. skiers Thursday at the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge. Nate Roberts led the pack with 26.03 points followed by Gregoire Dufosse from France in 2nd place with 25.43 and Osamu Ueno from Japan in 3rd with 24.96 points. Vermonter, Dave Babic finished just out of the money with 24.93.

For the Women, it was America's Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, UT with 25.15, Canadian Jennifer Heil was 2nd with 24.86 and Vermonter Hannah Kearney finished 3rd with 24.70. Her teammate Heather McPhie from Bozeman, MT scored 24.55 for a 4th place finish.

Roberts said, "This is like a dream." He was anxious before the start of the event but he skied a great qualifying run. "I was nervous," he said. "Skiing in front of my hometown, I told myself win or lose here, you're gonna crash or you're gonna succeed, so I put it on the line. . . The top air was a nice back full and the bottom air . . . I was in the zone and I don't remember the details," he said. This was the third World Cup victory of his career, including a dual moguls win plus a gold medal from the 2005 World Championships.

"It was just good to get back in that zone and compete. I wanted to do my best in front of my family and friends."

Sharon Bahrke is back at the top the World Cup moguls for the first time since 2003. She had a flawless second run for the win in this event. This was the seventh win of her career and her second in six days. She also won last Saturday in Mont Gabriel, Quebec. She said, "I can't believe this season. It's been unbelievable." She was a bronze medalist in dual moguls at the World Championships at Deer Valley in 2003.

Friday Aerials
For the 2nd time in 2 days, Park City local, Jeret "Speedy" Peterson landed his five-twist, three-flip "Hurricane" jump in frigid weather to nail a World Cup win at the Chevrolet Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort. He took over the World Cup aerials points lead with this stellar performance. Jeret led a field of 12 finalists with a score of 252.26. Anton Kushnir from Belarus was 2nd with 230.75 and Stanislav Kravchuk from the Ukraine finished 4th with 229.63.

In the Women's Aerials, Olympic champion Evelyne Leu of Switzerland who came in 1st with a 197.94, Nina Li from China was 2nd with 188.93 and her team mate Xinxin Guo was 3rd with 187.37. The Chinese team is a real threat, now that they have learned to land their tricks.

Peterson, the 2005 World Cup aerials champ, leads with 308 points after five events and will sport the yellow leader's bib. He leads Steve Omischl of Canada, who led qualifying round but had trouble on his final landing and only placed 7th at Deer Valley. He was fourth in the qualifying round but really shined as he nailed his signature jump. It is the toughest jump in freestyle skiing.

The Samples rock the chilly crowd at Friday night but I only stayed a little while to hear them play. I was tired after skiing and watching all the events, so I headed back to the condo where I was staying for a good night's sleep.

On this trip, I stayed at a condo in the Newpark development, located right off Highway 80 at the Park City exit. Not only was this location very convenient but is the same development where my new assistant in Park City resides. I had a great place with a big living room with fireplace and an unobstructed views of 1050 acre Swaner Nature Preserve and Mountain Ranges. There was an outdoor hot tub and this condo had three bedrooms and three bathrooms and a full kitchen with private garage parking. If you are interested in staying at a condo where you can do your own cooking, I can recommend staying at the Newpark Resort. Give them a call at (877) 649-3600.

Dual Moguls
I was up early and got in a few turns before I headed over to the mogul course to watch them compete. They started the qualifying round at 1 PM and I had a chance to watch the world's best compete in the bumps. Lately, every time I see a mogul competition, I marvel at how the sport has changed. In the old days, a good bump skier could win if he was fast and clean in the bumps and threw a Helicopter off one of the jumps. Now, you have to go inverted just to compete and to win you need 2 BIG jumps. It seems like all the women can do at least a Back Flip and all the men can do a D Spin (off-axis 720), not to mention skiing right down the fall line making impeccable turns at the speed of light.

Canadian, Kristi Richards earned her first career victory on the DIS World Cup Freestyle circuit on Saturday as Canadians grabbed four of the six medals in the dual moguls competition. Her teammate Jennifer Heil was second and Hannah Kearney from Norwich, VT placed 3rd. Richards defeated Olympic moguls champion Jennifer Heil head-to-head in the dual moguls finals.

On the men's side, Guilbaut Colas of France led the pack with Canadians Vincent Marquis of Quebec City 2nd and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau of Drummondville in 3rd. In men's dual moguls the podium was all French-speaking mogul maniacs. Guilbaut had a great run in the final and was particularly fast in the middle of the course. He knows the importance of going fast and pushing his opponent in this event. Rousseau beat Pierre Ochs of France in the third place match.

Pretty blond Kristi Richards battled her teammate Jenn for the Gold. Kristi said, "I was just so proud to be in the final against Jenn and to come out on top is just a bonus. I knew I was going to have to ski really fast in the final. I charged out of the gate and I had no idea what Jenn was doing, I was so concentrated on my run. I was consistent and fast all day. This new technique I'm using is really pulling through for me. It's amazing to get the win," she said. "I've been through a lot of injuries and a lot of setbacks and it feels so good to get that gold medal."

Heil earned two silver medals this week. She was runner up in single moguls on Thursday but lost her balance on the first jump in the dual final and crashed and burned.

Hannah Kearney who is very accustomed to the sub-zero temperatures of her home-state Vermont, finished third and led four other U.S. women into the final eight of at this World Cup dual moguls event.

"I had a great night," said Marquis, a second-year national team member. "Guilbaut simply had a great run in the final and he was particularly fast in the middle of the course and I wasn't able to keep pace. He knows the importance of going fast and pushing your opponent in this event. I certainly did that most of the night in my duals."

Rousseau beat Pierre Ochs of France in the third place match.

I ran into my some of my old friends there. Former Canadian mogul coach Bob Aldighieri and U.S. Ski Team member and veteran of the 1992 Olympics told me that he was now selling real estate in Steamboat Springs, Co. and 1992 Olympic gold medal bump skier Donna Weinbrecht was also there. It's always good to see people I knew from my days at Killington at these events.

Bob Marley's reggae band the Waillers played the night away in the frigid temperatures with a fireworks display topping off the evenings festivities.