Earlier this month I had the opportunity of attending the Freestyle International World Cup at Deer Valley, Utah for the Aerials, Moguls and Dual Moguls. I got the invite from Columbia Sportswear as part of their #OmniTen, and was stoked to go.
I was able to take along a plus one, who of course was Kyra, for the trip. Since Deer Valley is only about an hour drive from where we live we drove up Thursday morning to meet the rest of the crew, Tori (from Columbia) and Rebecca (another #OmniTen member) and her husband David. We checked into our room at The Lodges at Deer Valley and settled in for a bit before heading over to the USSA Center of Excellence, a state of art training facility for all the athletes on the US Ski Team. The place was amazing and it was incredible to hear about all the science behind the training that goes on to prepare athletes for competition, and most notably, the olympics. The Center of Excellence is a total breeding ground of amazing athletes and it was incredible to take a walk through.
After the tour we headed to dinner before heading up the Deer Valley Resort slopes to watch the first night of competition; the Aerials. I’ve watched ski competitions like the Aerials and Moguls on the television during the olympics, but this was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity of being up close and in person. We packed in with hundreds of other people to watch the best in the world compete, including many olympic medalists. The winner of the Aerials event was, Anton Kushnir, who also won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2014. He pulled out the same trick in Deer Valley that won him Gold just a few months previous, a triple backflip with a double twist.
The next night featured Moguls and the final night of competition included Dual Moguls. I was most impressed with the insanity and skill of the mogul skiers. They flew down the moguls course, what would likely be be considered a black diamond or double black diamond rated slope, with skis in perfect alignment, knees pumping up at down like expensive shock absorbers, and crazy aerials off the jumps, just to round things off. My favorite was the Dual Moguls. The competition of going head to head with another skier pushed the contenders down the mountainside in an ever increasing pace. It was incredible to watch.
The rest of the trip included spending some time in Park City wandering the downtown shops and of course skiing. After strapping my skis on and skiing my first run of the trip I did some math in my head and realized that I hand’t skied in over 10 years. I had grown up skiing, but switched to snowboarding in my late teens. By my early 20’s I had dropped skiing and snowboarding altogether simply because the cost.
After a few runs I felt pretty comfortable cruising down the mountain once again and I hit a few double blue runs. It felt great to be skiing again and although I felt comfortable on my skis I realized that my form and technique were definitely not where they were when I left off a decade earlier. It took some work to keep my skis tight and parallel, but by the end of the week I was skiing with more poise and technical confidence.
All of the skiing really pushed in my mind an already growing desire to get an alpine touring set up. The combination of a quick approach on skins, then crampons, mixed with the thrill of an awesome descent sound more and more enticing. Time to break out the piggy bank to start saving my pennies.
The whole trip was a busy one and went by way to quickly. It was an amazing time and I was sad to see it come to a close and to say goodbye to new friends. It’s hard to beat a beautiful weekend in an amazing place filled with awesome friends, great skiing and VIP tickets to the FIS World Cup with Columbia.