By Mike Roth
FIS Freestyle World Cup Tour Makes Stop
Ski Cross Event Makes First East Coast Appearance; Aerialists Compete Under the Lights
This weekend is an opportunity for us in the capital district to partake in an event that doesn’t happen very much in our area. If this were taking place in Europe there would be thousands of peoples watching the events and cheering their favorite winter athlete along. These events are great for family viewing and I hope you can take advantage, and there is little or no cost.
The FIS Freestyle World Cup Tour is coming to Whiteface/Lake Placid this holiday weekend, January 18-19. The Nature Valley Freestyle Cup features a nighttime aerials competition on Sunday evening at the Olympic Jumping Complex, and for the first time ever on the East Coast, a world cup competition in ski cross at Whiteface.
The event kicks off with the men’s and women’s ski cross qualifications Sunday, January 18 on the Lower Valley trail at Whiteface. The women begin with qualifications at 9:45 AM with the men following at 12:20 PM. Ski cross debuted on the World Cup Tour last year, and this is its inaugural event at Whiteface. Many of the athletes competing are looking for a spot on the Olympic team as ski cross was added to the roster of events for the 2010 Vancouver Games. Ski cross consists of four freestyle skiers going down the run at once, and has course features similar to snowboard cross such as rollers, banked curves and jumps.
The aerialists take flight starting at 1:30 PM with the women’s qualifications at the Olympic Jumping Complex. The men follow suit with their own qualifications at 5:15 PM. The Freestyle Funk Fest gets the party started at 6 PM with live music from Peter Price and Moon Boot Lover. The top 12 women and men from qualifications advance to the finals, slated to begin at 7:40 PM.
The ski cross athletes get their chance to win gold on Monday, January 19 at 11 AM with the men’s and women’s skier cross finals at Whiteface.
Prior to the competitions, fans have a chance to meet U.S. Ski Team members at Whiteface on Saturday, January 17. >From 12 PM – 1:30 PM is the freestyle athlete autograph signing session and the “U.S. Ski Team – We Ski & Snowboard Challenge.” Skiers and riders may enter to win a chance to show off their Wii skills against the freestylers. Prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third place finishers. Plus, the Whiteface Cash Cube will be on hand for even more fun.
Daron Rahlves, the most successful U.S. male downhill skier, retired after 13 years on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team following the 2006 Olympic season. He wanted to continue skiing, and has since made the transition into the ski cross world. Four-time Olympian and six-time U.S. Champion Casey Puckett retired from the U.S. Alpine Ski Team in 2002. He quickly set his sights on ski cross and has become a superstar of the newest Olympic sport after winning X Games gold and dominating the Ski Tour and Jeep King of the Mountain. Joining them is former speed skier Jake Fiala.
Two-Time Olympian Jeret Peterson leads the U.S. aerial contingent. Along with fellow Olympians Emily Cook and Ryan St. Onge as well as teammate Scotty Bahrke, these athletes hope to secure the top spots in Lake Placid.
This is the second stop on the World Cup Tour for the aerialists and the fourth for skier cross. Leading the men’s aerial field is Alexei Grishin from Belarus, followed by China’s Ke Li and Canadian Warren Shouldice. Lydia Lassila of Australia tops the women’s field, followed by China’s Shanshan Zhao and Canada’s Veronika Bauer.
Hedda Bernsten of Norway sits at the top of the women’s ski cross field with 145 points. France’s Ophelie David is second with 130 points while Katharina Gutensohn of Austria is third with 130 points.
Austrian Andreas Matt leads the men’s ski cross standings with 180 points. Michael Schmid of Switzerland sits in second with 140 points, followed by Canadian Christopher Delbosco, who has 116 points.
Daily tickets for the aerials training, qualifications and finals at the Olympic Jumping Complex are $14 for adults, $8 for juniors/seniors. Spectators may view the ski cross competition at Whiteface from the base lodge for free. Those wanting to watch from alongside the course may purchase a lift ticket.
For more information on the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup – part of the FIS World Cup Freestyle Tour, please log on to http://www.orda.org/newsite/events/worldcups/200809/freestyle/index.php.
If you decide to stay over and make it a long weekend, Check out Lake Placid lodging but if they are booked don’t forget Wilmington which is where Whiteface is. There is bound to be lodging there and probably less expensive?
Enjoy the weekend.