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Local Athletes Eager To Grab Medals As The FIS World Championships Hit The Halfway Mark

Steven Earl Photography

We’re halfway through the FIS World Championships and the events have shifted their focus exclusively to Park City’s resorts.

U.S. athletes Ashley Caldwell and Jonathan Lillis both are looking to defend their world title in Freestyle Aerials on Wednesday. Caldwell’s path to repeating as champion has had a large roadblock, recovering from a shoulder surgery last winter.

“I didn’t get any water ramp training at all. So, for an aerialist to not do that is pretty challenging. I’m coming out and trying to push as hard as I can because even before I had surgery, I was counting weeks out from worlds. Deer Valley worlds was all I was looking forward to and so despite all the adversity we go through the fear, the soreness, the weather. All those conditions we fight through for events like Deer Valley. At the end of the day we’re pushing for this event.”

On Thursday the mixed-gender team aerials final will take place. The new event might offer Caldwell and Lilis the opportunity to compete together for a gold medal.

Also looking to reach the podium in freestyle moguls is Bradley Wilson who has skied Deer Valley’s moguls since he was 12. The former YSA Scholarship recipient and member of Wasatch Freestyle club says skiing on his home course adds confidence not pressure.

“It’s pretty cool because I’ve skied this course since I moved down here from Montana. I think I was 12 years old. Ever since then I was watching the world cup, watching world championships and coming back and being able to compete in these events and on this course is pretty special. I wouldn’t say it’s more pressure, it’s more like confidence I’d say. Kind of a deep breath and realize that experience is there and been there since working on the experience since I was 12.”

Wilson reflected on the energy he felt when he made his first podium here at Deer Valley in 2013.

“It was pretty cool because you can hear the crowd rooting for you because you’re on U.S. soil. I was going against reigning gold medalist Alex Bilodeau and I got in the middle section and you could literally hear the energy, feel the energy, from all the people. Everybody knows that he’s a reigning gold medalist and they don’t care. They want to share that experience with you I’d say, and you can feel it. It’s pretty special, it’s unlike any other feeling I’ve ever had.”

While the freestyle and snowboard events take place here the Alpine World Championships are underway across the globe in Ares Sweeden.

Earlier this week ski legend Linsey Vonn announced her retirement from racing at the end of the World Championships this week in Sweeden. Vonn spoke to the media about the decision.

“Really wasn’t expecting to have things end the way they are but you know that’s life. I’m just trying to accept the position that I’m in and move forward with it. It was pretty clear after Cortina that my body just wasn’t going to continue to do what I wanted it to do. I think you know these last two races here, while it may not be my farewell season that I wanted and not being able to break Stenmark’s record it’s still a nice way to go out ending in the world championships. I didn’t want to end in Cortina I thought that was not the way to go out. I wanted to say goodbye to everybody. It’s been really nice to get all the messages from my fellow competitors, the coaches, and all my friends that have supported me for so many years. So, it’s been really really heartwarming for me and makes the process of retiring a little be easier maybe because of all the response that I’ve gotten.”

Vonn crashed while competing in her final Super G on Tuesday. The winningest woman in alpine history will race her final race in the downhill on Sunday in Ares. As Vonn’s career comes to a close Mikaela Shiffrin’s continues to catch fire. The 23-year-old is now the third-most winningest woman in alpine history and on pace to pass Vonn and Stenmark’s records. Here’s US Ski & Snowboard Director of Communications Tom Webb

“I mean we say this every single week, there are no superlatives that can really describe this. She’s now broken the U.S. ski record for number of wins in a season with two more wins over the weekend in Maribor, Slovenia and just keeps absolutely dominating. Anybody who watched the Super Bowl saw Tom Brady put the Patriots into their 6th Super Bowl title. Well Mikaela has to be held up alongside somebody like Tom Brady. Her ability to just keep winning, dominating in all of these disciplines is just incredible. Anybody who is a fan of ski racing I think we should all be extremely please to be alive during this generation because we’re watching history being writ.”

On Monday morning Shiffrin tied the world record for most wins in a season as she captured her 14th this year winning the Super-G World Title. She’ll have the opportunity to beat the record for wins in a season over the weekend.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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