The U.S. Freestyle Team dominated three days of intense competition at Stratton Mountain, Vermont but there were a few surprises. Mother nature provided the first surprise with temperatures soaring into the upper 70s on the first day of practice for the mogul event. The slopes were bare in many spots but the mogul venue was in good shape, thanks to the Stratton snow-grooming team. They trucked in snow from the halfpipe and spent 300 hours building the aerial jump. Every day, they patched bare spots on the trails so people could ski and from to the mogul venue.
The individual mogul competition saw a host of talented skiers flying down the mountain executing turn after perfect turn while performing two jumps in the bumps. It seems that almost everyone has incorporated a back flip into their run. There were back flips, back flip crosses, D-spins, front flips, helis, 1080s, old-school iron crosses, and other tricks too numerous to name. Remember, these tricks were thrown while the competitors raced down the course at break-neck speeds.
The 1st surprise occurred when Heather McPhee edged out World Champion, Hanna Kearney for a 1st place win and the top spot on the podium. Heather scored 26.68. Kearney was 2nd with a score of 26.39. K.C. Oakley was 3rd with 24.79 and Mikaela Matthews was 4th with a score of 24.00.
Although Hanna Kearney was faster in the bumps, Heather’s ability in the air with here D-spin gave her the edge, even though she was skiing with a broken thumb and her arm in a cast. It was an all-US Ski Team podium for the gals.
In the Men’s Moguls, there was also a surprise on the podium. U.S. Ski Team’s Jeremy Cota won the Gold with a score of 26.21, edging out Patrick Deneen who finished 2nd with 25.85. Reed Snyderman surprised everyone with a 3rd place finish, scoring 19.64. Shane Cordeau placed 4th with a score of 19.44.
This was the first single moguls title for both Cota and McPhie but I bet it won’t be their last. It was a fabulous day, with sunshine and warm weather that was enjoyed by the crowd.
The duals saw a new face on top of the men’s podium. Cody Temple from the Missoula Freestyle Ski Team won his first major event in his career, edging out U.S. Ski Team veteran Jeremy Cota who finished 2nd. Teammate Shane Cordeau was 3rd with Reed Snyderman finishing in 4th place.
For the women, it was K.C. Oakley who won the Gold, Elisa Ottrim was 2nd, Keaton McCargo was 3rd and Sophia Schwartz was 4th
It was a day of mano-a-mano bump skiing as the competitors matched each other turn for turn and jump for jump going down the course. There were plenty of spills and thrills in this dual mogul competition.
U.S. Ski Team member, Dylan Ferguson wowed the crowd by winning the Gold and topping the podium in the aerial competition. He retained his title as the U.S. Freestyle Champion. His two winning jumps were a back double full, full and back full double full that produced a total score of 196.16. Michael Rossi placed 2nd with a score of 185.54. Mac Bohonnon was 3rd with a 182.72, and Alex Bowen was 4th with 174.83.
Park City’s Maddy Olsen took the Gold and had her first career title with a total score of 146.07 with a back, lay tuck and a back, lay full. This earned her a spot on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. On the podium with her were Kiley McKinnon from Madison, CT, who won the Silver with a score of 134.76. Madie Gorelik, also from Park City, won the Bronze medal with a 109.65. In the 4th spot was Sara Swensen who scored 104.39
I had the pleasure of staying at Sutton’s Place, located in the center of Manchester, VT. This is a charming 1800’s guest house that is both comfortable and affordable. I stayed in the Paris room, the smallest of the four rooms. Rates run from $65 – $90 based on double occupancy. After the event, I was able to relax in front of the TV in the parlor which was well-supplied with reading material and information about the area. If you want to get the feel of living in a little town in Vermont, visit Sutton’s Place and tell Frank Sutton that you read about his guest house in the Ski Bum News. For reservations, call (802) 362-1165 or e-mail Frank@SuttonsPlaceVermont.com.
There was a reception, after the dual moguls where the fans could meet the U.S. Freestyle team. All the team members were there signing autographs. Emily Cook waved hello to me, even though I did not have a chance to chat with her. Stratton provided free soda, pizza, hot dogs, popcorn and fried bead dough (pizza fritte in Italian), which you sprinkle with sugar and have a tasty dessert.
Over the years, I have gotten to know many of the skiers on the U.S. Freestyle team and some of the other competitors as well. These are all a great bunch of talented, dedicated athletes. I’ve been following the career of many of the athletes and have had the pleasure of meeting many of the parents. At this event, I met Shane Cordeau’s father, Joey who was a four-time World Mogul Skiing champion. He knew some of my old friends who competed with him in the moguls in the 80’s. Joey now coaches the bumpers at Sun Valley. I’ve been a fan of Freestyle ever since my days at Killington, where I had two roommates who competed on the Pro Freestyle Circuit, back in the day. It’s pretty cool to be rubbing elbows with the second generation of top freestyle skiers.