Monday, January 25, 2010

Freestyle Skiing: Nature Valley Freestyle Cup

This past week, Lake Placid once again hosted an Olympic Qualifier event for Freestyle skiing. The Nature Valley Freestyle Cup encompassed aerials, moguls, and ski cross competition at both Whiteface Mountain and the Olympic Jumping Complex. For many athletes, this was the last chance to secure a spot on the Olympic team. The 2010 Olympic Freestyle Team will be announced Tuesday, January 26th.

Freestyle skiing is a unique sport that involves several different events. Aerial skiing is like gymnastics on skis, in which participants flip and somersault after leaping off a ramp. Jumpers are scored on jump takeoff, jump form, and jump lading, with a degree of difficulty factored in to result in a total score. Mogul competition is characterized by skiers navigating terrain with large bumps, and requires fast maneuvering. One of the newer disciplines in freestyle skiing is Skiercross, which is based on the motorbike competition in motocross. Competitors ski in groups of four down the course, which includes jumps or banks depending on the course design, and compete to be the fastest 16 (women’s events) or 32 (men’s events). After these are chosen, there is a knockout style of series in which the first two over the line compete in the next round- in the end, the final rounds and small final rounds determine 1st-4th place and 5th-8th places.

This competition attracted some of the best athletes in the sport of freestyle skiing- World Mogul Champion Patrick Deneen competed after already securing his spot on the Olympic Team in December, placing 37th in the final round of moguls. Hannah Kearney, the World Cup Moguls Champion, won the final round. In Aerials, the highest placing US athlete was 10th place finisher Jeret Peterson, who won the event last year. The highest placing American in the women’s Aerial competition was Jana Lindsey, who finished in 8th place in the finals. The Skiercross women’s competition was won by Canadian Kelsey Serwa, and the highest placing American was Langely McNeal in 16th place. In the men’s competition, the winner of the final was Christopher Delbosco of Canada, with the USA’s Daron Rahlves in 4th place.

For more information on the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup, visit the official event website at http://www.whiteface.com/events/freestyle/schedule.php. The competitions will also be televised on NBC and Versus.

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