Squaw Valley prepares to host U.S. Freestyle Championships | SierraSun.com

Squaw Valley prepares to host U.S. Freestyle Championships

USSA and Sun Staff reports
Jonah M. Kessel/Sun News ServiceJake Hickman, 14, earns style points in a Far West Freestyle moguls competition at Heavenly earlier this season. The Tahoe Vista skier is one of 14 athletes from the Squaw Valley Freestyle Team who qualified to compete in the U.S. Freestyle Championships at Squaw. Hickman is coming off a gold-medal performance recently in the Junior Olympic J3 moguls competition in Waterville Valley, N.H. He also won the Far West Freestyle J3 Division moguls championships.
Jonah M. Kessel |

SQUAW VALLEY USA U.S. moguls and halfpipe skiers will be in the hunt for a national title as the final leg of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships comes to Squaw Valley Friday through Sunday.We haven’t had a major event at Squaw Valley in quite a while. Its going to be awesome to go there. Its a great mountain to ski,” said U.S. moguls head coach Scott Rawles. Nationals is always fun for everyone because we get to see who else is on the radar out there. It’s just a really good way to finish out the year.The action kicks off Friday with mens and womens moguls, where 2008 champions Emiko Torito (Denver) and Michael Morse (Duxbury, Mass.) are in the hunt to defend their titles against a field of stacked competitors, including World Cup moguls champion Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt.), World Championship gold medalist Pat Deneen (Cle Elum, Wash.) and 2002 Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City.Weve never really had an event in my hometown, so I am really excited. Its going to be awesome,” Bahrke said. The competition site is at the bottom of the mountain, so everyone can watch without having to ski. Squaw just has such a great vibe. Its an awesome mountain with lots of local people, and I know that Squaw is going to do a really good job.South Lake Tahoe’s Sho Kashima, who was one of the country’s most consistent male performers during the 2008-09 season, is also expected to compete. Kashima recorded a pair of top-10 finishes at the world championships in Inawashiro, Japan, and finished eighth in the final World Cup mens moguls standings.It’s going to be nice to be close to home, Kashima recently said. It’s gonna be on the bottom of the hill, so it will be spectator friendly.While three-time U.S halfpipe champion Jen Hudak of Park City, Utah, will not compete due to an injury, three-time defending mens champion David Wise of Reno will be returning from a second place World Cup finals finish to attempt to make it four straight on Saturday.It means something to have that title. It was kind of the event that started my career and it means a lot to be the U.S. champion and have that under your belt. People know that that’s who you are best in the U.S. at least for one day, Wise said. Every year U.S. Championships has been my event because its towards the end of the season, and I’ve got my game on and I’m skiing really well, and I don’t think this year is going to be any different. Im skiing better than I ever have been.Nationals will conclude on Sunday with dual moguls as 2008 U.S. champs Michelle Roark (Denver) and Morse try to reclaim their titles.I’m excited to go to Squaw,” Morse said. “There are still a lot of things I want to work on in my skiing, and having one competition left to do it is good. Ill hopefully ski my best and, if Im lucky, I can do well again and defend my titles.”The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships will be televised by Versus on Saturday, April 4, at 2 p.m. and Saturday, April 11, at 1 p.m. Times are subject to change, so check local listings.

Its not every day Far West Freestyle athletes get a chance to charge down a moguls course alongside the top dogs on the U.S. Ski Team.Then again, its not every day the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships swing through their backyard, as Squaw Valley will host the event for the fist time since 1987.The home team, Squaw Valley Freestyle, will be well represented with 14 skiers ranging in age from 14 the youngest allowed to compete to 31.We qualified 14 kids, which were super stoked on, said Nat Schirman, director of the Squaw Valley Freestyle Team, adding that two other Squaw skiers qualified but were too young. Last year we took six kids, so were excited to have this big of a contingent at home.”The U.S. Freestyle Championships will include three events moguls, dual moguls and halfpipe and will feature the best U.S. Ski Team athletes in addition to the top-qualifying non-U.S. Ski Team members.Everybody is competing against everybody, Schirman said. Its the one comp of the year where our regional athletes are able to compete against the guys that are at the World Championships.Schirman said the top 37 non-U.S. Ski Team members in the country qualified to compete in moguls.The Squaw Valley Freestyle Team will be represented by the No. 1-qualifier in mens moguls, 19-tear-old Kyle Jordan, as well as the No. 3 qualifier, 16-year-old Nathan Park. Invitations were based on cumulative points totals from this past season, Schirman said.The moguls competitions will be held on Red Dog an ideal location for a number of reasons, Schirman said. Its a perfect venue. Theres nothing else like it, Schirman said. We have the moguls course finish area about 100 feet in front of our locker room. Its right here at the base area coming right underneath Red Dog, so everybody will really be able to see it.I just love the fact that people can walk right from the parking lot 100 feet and youre at the bottom of the course. Its a special thing. And Far East Express, you cant touch it; its a two-minute chair.Thats part of the reason for me to bring this event here, is to show off our training facilities, and to show off Squaw Valley, Schirman continued. Its been 22 years, so there are generations of freestylers that dont know about it out here, and it used to be the best team in the country. So were bringing that back.

1. Veronica PaulsenAge: 15Hometown: Tiburon, Calif.Team: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvents: Moguls/Dual Moguls2. Jake HickmanAge:14Hometown: Tahoe VistaTeam: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvents: Moguls/Dual Moguls3. K.C. OakleyAge: 20Hometown: Piedmont, Calif.Team: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvents: Moguls/Dual Moguls4. Max SzekelyAge: 15Hometown: TruckeeTeam: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvent: Halfpipe5. Miles HonensAge:15Hometown: Orinda, Calif.Team: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvent: Halfpipe6. Ben WestmorelandAge: 17Hometown: TruckeeTeam: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvent: Halfpipe7. Kyle JordanAge: 19 (freshman at U.C. Davis)Hometown: San Rafael, Calif.Team: Squaw Valley FreestyleEvents: Moguls/Dual Moguls8. Kendall JordanAge: 17Hometown: San Rafael, Calif.Events: Moguls/Dual Moguls9. Name: Sam RudyAge: 17Hometown: Palo Alto, Calif.Team: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvents: Dual Moguls10. Scott FitzmorrisAge: 31Hometown: Tahoe CityTeam: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvent: Moguls11. Kevin GagneAge: 31Hometown: TruckeeTeam: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvent: Moguls12. Nathan ParkAge:16Hometown: DavisTeam: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvents: Moguls/Dual Moguls13. Jeff StanleyAge: 17Home: Granite Bay, Calif.Team: Squaw Valley Freestyle Freeride TeamEvents: Moguls/Dual Moguls14. Bobby WardAge: 16Hometown: Olympic ValleyTeam: Squaw Valley Freestyle TeamEvent: Moguls