The Canadian Freestyle Ski Team was rolling in gold after winning 16 medals and eight World Championship titles at the FIS Freestyle World Championships in Deer Valley and the Park City Mountain Resort.
Canadian skiers took medals in every freestyle discipline at the World Championships: Moguls, Dual Moguls, Aerials, Halfpipe, Slopestyle and Ski Cross and I was there to record it all. In moguls, Canada took eight of a possible 12 medals from the individual and dual mogul competitions, including World Championship titles. All the events were televised on a large-screen TV, so the entire race could be seen from the spectator area.
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Conditions for the first day of the World Championships were frigid with -12 degree temperatures and blue skies. The skiing was great and mogul competition intense in spite of the cold. The course at Deer Valley was steep with hard “Eastern” bumps that provided a perfect venue for competitors to show their skills. This event is judged on turns, air (2 jumps) and speed.
On the podium, Canadian bump skier, Jennifer Heil made up for her losses at Lake Placid by winning the individual mogul event with a score of 24.35. She just aced out American Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney was 2nd with 24.31. Kristi Richards from Canada was 3rd with 23.71. Hanna missed the grab and that little mistake made all the difference to the judges. Eliza Outtrim from Steamboat Springs was 5th and college student Heather McPhie from Bozeman, MT was 6th.
Mens moguls saw Guilbaut Colas (France) win with 26.26. Silver went to Alexandre Bilodeau (Canada) who scored 25.66 and the bronze went to teammate Mikael Kingsbury scoring 25.57. Reigning World Champion Patrick Deneen (USA) finished sixth.
US men dominated the slopestyle competition at the Park City Mountain Resort. Park City teen, Alex Schlopy won a gold medal in the inaugural FIS World Freestyle Ski Championships slopestyle competition. Also on the podium were USA’s Sammy Carlson was 2nd and Russ Henshaw from Australia was 3rd. In this event, skiers hit rails, table-tops, jumps and rooftops. They left the gate going forward but soon they were turning backwards on rails, in the air or on the snow. They threw 360s, 720s and more. Schlopy’s winning run started with a 270 disaster on the down flat down, frontside 450 out of the flat rail to gap, blind 450 out of the up rail, switch on, 360 off of the butter box, leftside 900, switch 1260, double cork 1260.
For the women, it was Anna Segal, Australia in 1st with 43.4, Kaya Turski, Canada was 2nd with 41.7 and Keri Herman, USBreckenridge was 3rd with 41.0 Devin Logan from West Dover, VT finished 5th and Local Park City gal, Ashley Battersby was 6th.
This was the final event before the International Olympic Committee decides if it will include slopestyle as an event at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Spectators saw heats of four skiers race down the mountain, careening over jumps, speeding around banked turns with many a crash and spill to thrill the crowd. Watchers were at several key points and large crowds were on hand at the finish line.
Ladies’ Ski Cross saw Kelsey Serwa (Canada) in 1st, teammate Julia Murray was 2nd and Anna Holmlund from Sweeden was 3rd. Bruised and battered from a spectacular last jump crash when she also won the X Games, Kelsey Serwa showed her grit by claiming world freestyle championship gold.
For the Men, it was Chris Del Bosco, from Canada who took the gold, Jouni Pellinen from Finland won silver, and Andreas Matt, Austria was 3rd. It was the first major event title for Del Bosco. He was the fastest qualifier among the 32 men who moved to heat racing. Del Bosco won his 1st his heat and was second behind Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic in the semifinal. In the final, he passed Andreas Matt and took advantage of an opening in the third corner to win.
It was a clear evening with 6,000 spectators watching aerialists launch themselves off 60 ft. jumps, flipping and twisting in the air as they vied for the gold. For the women, it was China’s Shuang Cheng who placed 1st with a score of 188.40. Teammate Mengtao Xu was 2nd with 188.23 and Ukrainian Olga Volkova 3rd with a score of 178.59. Ashley Caldwell from Charleston, SC just missed the podium with 173.73. Fellow US Olympian Emily Cook finished 7th after leading in the first jump with a 96.23.
In the Men’s Aerials, it was Canadian Warren Shouldice who clinched the gold by executing a lay, triple full, full (a quadruple twisting triple backflip) for a perfect score on his second jump for a total of 253.66. Guangpu Qi (China) was 2nd with 250.95 Anton Kushnir (Belarus) was 3rd with 249.63. Reigning World Champion Ryan St. Onge (USA) did not qualify for finals, leaving the 2011 title up for grabs.
Skiers ignored a 25 mph crosswinds to compete at the 2011 FIS Freestyle Halfpipe World Championships at the Park City Mountain Resort. Conditions for the event were very challenging. The halfpipe competitors were subject to fierce winds and blowing snow which affected their speed across the flat bottom and up the steep 22-foot walls doing flips, 720s, 1050s and more. Each competitor was keenly aware that halfpipe skiing is also under consideration to be included in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The gold was taken by Canadian, Mike Riddle with a score of 45.60. Kevin Rolland from France took the silver with 45.20 and USA’s Simon Dumont, Dillon won the bronze with 43.20. day. The wind impaired Dumont in his final run, blowing him off course, which kept him from challenging Canada’s Mike Riddle for gold. His bronze medal run began with a huge cork 900 into a right side 900 to a double flip 900 with tail grab to an allyoop 720 and ended with a switch 720.
The women’s podium had Canadian, Rosalind Groenewoud take 1st with 44.70, 2nd place went to USA’s Jennifer Hudak, who scored 42.10 and Canadian Keltie Hansen was 3rd with 38.80. American women Devin Logan and Brita Sigourney had solid runs with the two finished just off the podium in 5th and 6th place.
It was a storybook ending for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team when they picked up another four medals in the Dual Mogul event under the lights at Deer Valley. After four rounds of international head-to-head races in the women’s finals, it all came down to the Canadians, as the old guard went against the teenage up-and comers for the title. On the podium were Canadian, Jenn Heil who raced against her 19-year-old teammate Chloe Dufour-Lapointe to win the gold. Dufour-Lapointe had beaten Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney of the USA to make it into the final round. Hanna Kearney won the consolation round against teammate Heather McPhie who was fourth. Heil announced that she will retire at the end of the season.
On the podium for the men we saw Alexandre Bilodeau from, Canada win the event, just beating teammate Mikael Kingsbury who placed 2nd. 3rd place went to Japan’s Nobuyuki Nishi who beat World Cup points leader Guilbaut Colas from France, who came in 4th. USA’s Patrick Deneen was 5th. The racing was intense and the speed was mind-boggling, not to mention the two mandatory jumps each skier performed on the way to the bottom.