by Paul Maraschiello


I headed up to Stratton, VT to attend the US Freestyle Championships where the Stratton Mountain Resort was hosting Aerials, Moguls, Halfpipe and Dual Moguls competitions. High-flying jumpers, halfpipe competitors and mogul maniacs from all over the USA were signed up to compete for the gold and wow the spectators with their skill in the air and on the snow.

In the past, when I visited Stratton, I stayed in Manchester, VT but this time, I was staying in West Dover, VT and it turns out that this town is only 29 minutes from the Stratton ski resort if you follow the signs from Rt. 100. I stayed at the Matterhorn, which turned out to be a really GREAT place to stay if you are skiing at Mount Snow or Stratton. This classic Vermont inn is conveniently located on Rt. 100 in West Dover (next door to the Police Station), so it was very easy to find. I had a nice room with private bath, TV and plenty of books. The room was very comfortable and nicely decorated. A complementary breakfast is included in the price of the room with prices range from $79 (mid-week) and $99 (weekend) in the spring to $269 on holiday weekends. All rooms are based on double occupancy. $15 per extra person.

I had picked an excellent time to visit the Matterhorn. They had a Rail Jam on their property while I was there and a Caribbean Weekend complete with a Jamaican steel band and a pig roast that included fish, chicken, Polish sausage, stuffed cabbage and a variety of tasty desserts which were enjoyed by the dinner guests.

Every evening, I found myself in the bar where beer on tap and a variety of mixed drinks are served by the congenial bartender. I had the pleasure of chatting with several interesting guests that were also staying at the inn and a number of local Vermonters stopped in for a libation at the bar. If you are planning a ski trip to Mt. Snow or Stratton Mountain Resort, this inn is an excellent choice. So, please call (802) 464-4676 and make a reservation. Tell them that the Ski Bum News recommended them.

The first event at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships was the Aerials. It was another great day for the U.S. Ski Team. Defending U.S. champion Emily Cook and Dylan Ferguson were crowned U.S. aerials champions on the freshly built course the first day of competition. The event went smoothly as the competitors twisted and turned as they flew off the jumps which were especially built for this occasion. A lot of talented youngsters were able to compete and demonstrate their abilities to the judges and people from the US Ski Team where scouting for new talent. I was surprised to see that four competitors from the Buffalo, NY Ski Club were competing. I learned to ski when I lived in Buffalo and I swell with hometown pride whenever someone from Buffalo makes the U.S. Ski Team.

Emily Cook took top honors for the ladies with a score of 140.78. Ashley Caldwell was 2nd with 128.01 and Alexa Devereaux, Park City, UT, 125.50.

The men saw Dylan Ferguson place 1st with a score of 194.65. Scotty Bahrke was 2nd with a score of 183.46 and Michael Rossi placed 3rd with 172.06.

This was Cook's fifth U.S. champion title. She threw the only back-full double-full in the women's competition to nail the win. Caldwell had the highest single jump score of the night of 83.79 with a huge back full-full.

Both Ferguson and Bahrke, regular competitors on the World Cup circuit and I had a chance to chat briefly with both of them. I even met Ferguson's parents and they told me about how Dylan was knocked out of the Olympics by an attack of appendicitis.

This was Dylan's first national title, although he was runner up at the U.S. Championships last year at Squaw Valley. This was Rossi's first medal in the U.S. Championships.

World Cup champion Hannah Kearney earned her third U.S. moguls title and Patrick Deneen clinched his first U.S. Championship title at this event.

Hannah's combination of a back flip off the top jump, a mute grab 360 on the lower jump combined with a really fast time put Kearney in the top. Kearney won the Freestyle World Cup overall and moguls titles, and this victory clinched the U.S. championship. These are accomplishments only a few skiers achieve in a career but Hannah put them together in a near perfect season.

The podium saw Hannah Kearney win the gold with a score of 26.62, K C Oakley finished 2nd with 24.93 and Olympian Heather McPhie was 3rd with a score of 24.87. Heather completed and off axis 720 that wowed the crowd.

Patrick Deneen toped the podium with a 26.31, Jeremy Cota was 2nd with a score of 25.53 and Ryan Dyer was 3rd with 24.92. This was Pat's first time back on the podium since his victory in the World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland in December.

At the awards ceremony, the North American Snowsports Journalists Association presented Hannah Kearney with the Paul Robbins Outstanding Competitor Award. This Outstanding Competitor of the Year award is presented annually to a top skier or snowboarder. Hannah was selected for winning nine freestyle moguls World Cups and the season-long title. In my book, Hannah Kearney is the top female bumper in the world!

Gracing the podium was hometown girl, Devin Logan careened above the pipe to take her first U.S. title by winning the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championship halfpipe event. David Wise earned his third U.S. crown in four years with a win Saturday at Stratton Mountain. He had back-to-back podium finishes in last weekend's halfpipe World Cup double header in France, both Logan and Wise were very confident and parlayed the momentum into wins at Saturday's competition. There was a lot of action in the pipe. Skier amplitude thrilled the crowd.

On the podium with Wise who scored 46.00 was Marshall Lacroix who finished 2nd with 45.80. Aaron Blunck finished 3rd with 44.90.

Logan's score of 36.80 brought home the gold. Dara Howell came in 2nd with a score of 31.80. Maddie Bowman placed 3rd with 31.60.

Halfpipe is being considered for the next Winter Olympics and I'm rooting for its inclusion.

Dual moguls closed the action packed event at Stratton US Ski Team member Joe Discoe triumphed over his teammate Jeremy Cota to win the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championship dual moguls event. Zak Watkins placed 3rd.

Eliza Outtrim was the top bumper for the women with Heather McPhie in 2nd place and Heidi Kloser coming in 3rd.

Sunny skies were the rule for the final day of competition at Stratton Mountain. Joe Discoe, nailed back-to-back 18-17 wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals. It was Discoe all the way in the finals, winning with a convincing 21-14 score. This was Discoe's first dual moguls U.S. title. He was the U.S. moguls champ in 2010.

The women's final, between Outtrim and McPhie was a real battle. Outtrim just edging out McPhie 18-17 to win her first U.S. Championship title the U.S. Rhis was Heidi Kloser, it was her first career podium.

World Cup overall and moguls champion Hannah Kearney elected not to compete in Sunday's competition. Kearney ended the season with a total of 10 wins including nine World Cup wins and a U.S. Championship. WAY TO GO HANNAH!