It's almost Olympic time and all (skiing) eyes should turn to Deer Valley Resort, Jan. 14 - 16, where hopefuls throw down in this season's 2010 Visa Freestyle International. Athletes will be giving it their all in one of their last chances to make the 2010 Olympic team.
Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt.), Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, Wa), Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (Boise, Idaho) and Lacy Schnoor (Draper, Utah) already nabbed their tickets to Vancouver at Olympic Trials in December, but there are still two more chances for other top U.S. athletes to get in on the games.
The action gets going on Champion at the Deer Valley base with the mogul competition featuring Kearney, Deneen, 2002 Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, Ca.), World Cup podium performer Bryon Wilson (Butte, Mont.), World Champion Nate Roberts (Park City, Utah) and World Cup aces Emiko Torito and Michelle Roark (both Denver, Colo.).
"Coming out of Olympic Trials and with only two World Cups left, you've got a really motivated group of athletes," U.S. Moguls Head Coach Scott Rawles said. "They know it's going to take a lot to go to the Olympics and I think that everyone is bringing their 'A' game to what we have going on. "
The events at Deer Valley, which will be the site of the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Championships, take place above the Snow Park Lodge on Champion (moguls) and White Owl (aerials). "It's the best event on our whole schedule and it brings in the most, and greatest fans in the world," Utah local Roberts said. "It's a skier's course and every run is a challenge."
The first moguls finals are Jan. 14 at 1:15 p.m., with another on Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. (no dual comps this year). Then, the aerialists will take the Olympic party to the air as Peterson, World Champion Ryan St. Onge (Winter Park, Colo.), World Cup winner Emily Cook (Belmont, Vt.), Dylan Ferguson (Amesbury, Vt.) and newcomer Ashley Caldwell (Lake Placid, N.Y.) give the crowd some sky high acrobatics.
You can party like a freestyler Thursday night, Jan. 14. There will be a free concert on Main Street, near the Town Lift Plaza, by The Bravery, followed by fireworks. Make sure you bring handwarmers and hot toddies as the event is in the cold outdoors. More fireworks close out each night of competition at Deer Valley.
For those who want a warm cup of turkey chili or other hot food and indoor warmth, pony up $80 for Freestyle Feast VIP tickets. You can have dinner either Friday or Saturday, or lunch Thursday for $65 in the VIP tent, plus a commemorative gift.
The action is open to the public for free, but if fans can't catch it in person, the Visa Freestyle International will air on NBC Jan. 23 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Aerials will re-air Jan. 24 on Versus Network at 4 p.m. ET, and moguls will do the same Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. ET.
Athletes will have one last chance at Lake Placid, N.Y. to land a spot on the Olympic team after this Deer Valley event. The U.S. Ski Team will name their ambassadors back at Deer Valley, Jan. 26.