Ski fans will have only one chance to see the world’s best aerial and freestyle skiers compete in the United States this winter when the FIS Nature Valley World Cup freestyle World Cup returns to Lake Placid, Friday through Sunday, Jan. 21-23. The Lake Placid event is the only World Cup in the United States and will also serve as a qualifier for the U.S. ski team’s world championship squad. More than 140 athletes from 19 countries are expected to compete in the three-day event.
So far Chinese skiers have dominated both the men’s and women’s aerials fields. Zongyang Jia is currently the top ranked men’s aerialist, while his teammate, Guangpu Ql, sits in second place. Canada’s two-time Olympian Warren Shouldice is third overall.
Ryan St. Onge (Fraser, Colo.) will lead the U.S. aerial squad. St. Onge has won five-career World Cup aerial events and is also the 2009 world champion.
The Chinese women sit 1-2-3 in the women’s aerial World Cup rankings with Mengtao Yu leading the pack. Xin Zhang follows her teammate, in second place, while Chuang Cheng holds down the third place spot.
Lake Placid, New York’s Ashley Caldwell is expected to compete for the first time this season in Friday’s women’s aerials event. Caldwell finished a surprising 10th during last February’s Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.
Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt.) and Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, Wash.) will headline the U.S. mogul team’s lineup. Kearney is the reigning Olympic women’s moguls gold medalist, while Deneen carries the title of 2009 world champion into the event.
Both athletes should be pushed from a very deep international field. Deneen sits in second place in the current men’s mogul standings, behind France’s Colas Guilbaiut and ahead of Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, who’s third overall. Deneen’s teammate and reigning Olympic bronze medalist, Bryon Wilson (Butte, Mont.), is in fourth position.
Kearney currently leads the overall women’s moguls World Cup points chase, but right behind her are two Canadians, Jennifer Heil, a two-time Olympic medalist, who’s in second place and Kristi Richards, who is in third place. American Heather McPhie (Bozeman, Mont.) is also hoping for a strong performance in Lake Placid.
Aerial action at the Olympic Jumping Complex begins Friday at 9:45 a.m. with the women’s qualifying round, followed by the men’s qualifying round at 12:25 p.m. The finals begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate the day of the event, $15 for adults and $9 for juniors and seniors. Mogul competition, at Whiteface, begins both Saturday and Sunday at 9:15 a.m. A lift ticket and skis will be required to view the moguls’ competition at Whiteface. For more information about the FIS Nature Valley World Cup freestyle World Cup, visit http://whiteface.com/events/freestyle.php.
Visit www.facebook.com/lakeplacidevents to enter to win a weekend trip to Lake Placid to see the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup, including a two-night stay at The Pines Inn, two dinners, lift tickets and VIP event credentials. The winner will be notified on Friday, Jan. 14, after 5p.m.