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With Winter Competition Already Underway, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Says Deer Valley World Cup is on

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U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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The Alpine World Cup kicked off its season over the weekend in Soelden, Austria and Park City-based U.S. Ski & Snowboard says despite the challenges of hosting competitions during a global pandemic, the Deer Valley Freestyle World Cup is still on the schedule.

 

Rewind just a few months and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to speak confidently about the upcoming ski season, much less what winter competition might look like. In fact, there were a lot of people who thought skiing and snowboarding events would be scrapped entirely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Some of those events were lost. The North American stops of the Alpine World Cup Tour were all cancelled in favor of a more centralized schedule in Europe. 

 

U.S. Ski & Snowboard CEO Tiger Shaw told KPCW this was a decision made by the organization and its Canadian counterpart, Alpine Canada. The decision was made in order to best coordinate travel and health restrictions in a “bubble” environment, similar to how many other professional sports have operated during the pandemic.

 

That system was put to the test over the last month as the alpine tour began its competition season last weekend in Soelden, Austria. Shaw says even though there are travel bans in place in Europe, professional athletes are granted exceptions. The American team was able to travel over weeks in advance to get crucial pre-race training.

 

“We were lucky enough to get the help from many of our European counterparts, the Austrian Ski Team, foreign ministries, et cetera, and there are provisions for professional athletes to enter Europe for training purposes for preparing for the Olympics,” Shaw said. “We are able to do that. We have nearly 200 people over there now training and competing and, yeah, the Soelden weekend opening men’s and women’s World Cup was really the acid test.”

 

Park City local and two-time Olympic Champion Ted Ligety unfortunately lost a ski during his second run and did not finish the race but the Americans were bolstered by other strong results.

 

Minnesota native Paula Moltzan led the American women in a career-best 10th place finish in just her second World Cup giant slalom start. Moltzan was followed by California’s Nina O’Brien in 15th.

 

The men were led by veteran Oregonian Tommy Ford in 22nd and 22-year-old River Radamus of Vail, Colorado, in 27th.

 

American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin sat out the weekend with a minor back injury.

 

“We had a fabulous opening weekend,” said Shaw. “Unfortunately, Ted [Ligety] was super fast the first run, then, we call it ‘throwing a shoe’ in the second run. His ski came off right in the middle of the race; it happened to many people in a rough spot in the course. So we don’t know how Ted would have done, but, boy, he was on a fast run at that moment and, really, he’s in great shape and doing well. We’re really bullish. Things are looking great, we had a great opening weekend.”

 

Almost all U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes spend at least some of their off-season training at the organization’s Center of Excellence right here in Park City.  

 

All other winter World Cup seasons are scheduled to begin in late November and early December.

 

A staple on the calendar over the years has been the Deer Valley Freestyle World Cup. The world’s best mogul skiers and aerialists would compete under the lights each winter in front of thousands of fans above Snow Park Lodge.

Shaw says this winter’s event is on the schedule for February 4th-6th but modifications will be in place in order to adhere to the tour’s regulations with spectator size and “bubble” rules for athletes and staff.

 

“Deer Valley has been incredibly helpful and wonderful as a host and a partner of ours to help us pull this off,” he said. “We’re all very bullish on it going as planned and it looks good. It’s very different with the freestyle, and for that matter, the freeski and snowboard tours because they really aren’t European centric so it makes a lot of sense to come here as scheduled to the U.S. events and the Canadian events. And then they go to China for the World Championships right afterwards.”

 

Due to the constantly changing COVID-19 situation, specifics on the Deer Valley World Cup will be announced at a later date.

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