The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup tour returns to one of the most storied venues in skiing this week for back-to-back-to-back nighttime competitions at the 2020 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort.
Deer Valley is marking its 22nd Anniversary of hosting international ski competition this year, with the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the 2002, 2011 and 2019 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, and 17 seasons of World Cup competitions to the resort’s credit including this week’s events.
With moguls competitions ready to hit Deer Valley’s always perfect “Champion” run on Thursday and Saturday nights, and aerials competition at the “White Owl” jumping venue slated to take place on Friday, Deer Valley is set to once again deliver a freestyle bonanza this week.
Laffont and Kingsbury lead moguls charge
It’s not for no reason that Deer Valley is recognised as perhaps the best moguls course in the world, and the “maker of champions.” Every Olympic moguls winner in history has also claimed a win at Deer Valley, and the correspondence of these facts should not be seen as a coincidence.
And once again this weekend all eyes will be on the current World Cup leaders and reigning Olympic Champions Perrine Laffont (FRA) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN), who will be looking to add more wins to their record from Deer Valley.
In the ladies’ event Perrine Laffont (FRA) is coming straight off back-to-back victories in Canada and a perfect five-for-five so far in the season. And Laffont is no stranger to standing on top of the podium in Deer Valley, where she won the World Cup competition in 2018, and then last year she reached for the World Championships gold medal in dual moguls.
Also let’s not forget about always competitive US squad with the likes of Tess Johnson, Jaelin Kauf or Hanna Soar, as well as usual podium contenders Yulia Galysheva (KAZ), Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN), Jakarta Anthony (AUS).
Finally watch out for the up-and-comers Anri Kawamura (JPN) and Anastasiia Smirnova (RUS), who despite their young age, have been showing impressive skiing on tour this season with their very first top-3 World Cup results, proving that both Anri and Anastasiaa are well capable to upset the favourites on a good day.
On the men’s side of the competition Kingsbury will be dropping in following his 60th World Cup victory last week in Calgary. And Kingsbury is unbeaten on “Champion” run since 2017 with his most recent triumph coming at last year’s Utah 2019 World Championships, where he snagged two gold medals, in single and dual moguls.
And while it’s fair to expect Kingsbury to give his best, so will do his closest rivals such as Ikuma Horishima (JPN), Benjamin Cavet (FRA), Dmitriy Reikherd (KAZ) and Matt Graham (AUS), just to name a few. With a stacked-field of world’s best moguls skiers ready to drop in on what is arguably the best moguls course in world, there is no doubt that men’s competition have plenty in store for those enjoying fast skiing and big airs.
Ramanouskaya and Burov as top favourites on White Owl
Things will be also extremely exciting over at the White Owl aerials venue, as a full day and night of action on Friday will see athletes launching themselves off of the double and triple kickers, with a dizzying array of jumps on the menu throughout the day.
And with Chinese aerials team deciding to skip the competition in Deer Valley this year, it’s very likely that the yellow World Cup leader bibs, who currently belong to China’s Xu Mengtao and Qi Guangpu, might find new owners once the event wraps up with fireworks on Friday night.
Leading the women’s field will be Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya (BLR), the current second-ranked athlete in the aerials World Cup standing. Ramanouskaya kicked off the 2019/20 World Cup season with two second place finishes in Shimao Lotus Mountain (CHN), and with Xu Mengtao not on hand in Deer Valley, it’s hard not to put the 23-year-old skier on top of the list when looking for the favourites this week. And Ramanouskaya knows exactly how to win in Deer Valley, which she showed at the biggest stage at last year’s Utah 2019 World Championships by winning the gold medal.
Looking further down the starting list, count on strong showings from Laura Peel (AUS), who also has an impressive start into the season including a top-3 finish, as well as Liubov Nikitina (RUS), Alla Tsuper (BLR), or Hanna Huskova (BLR).
Also, the host nation will be hoping for a strong performance from the likes of 2017 World Champion Ashley Caldwell, and their future prospects like Madison Varmette and Winter Vinecki, who already made some big finals appearances last season, and they will be also hoping for a good result in their first World Cup start in 2020.
Switching to men’s competition Maxim Burov (RUS) will be entering the competition in Deer Valley, current ranked in third place in World Cup standing after a second-place finish in China. Burov is returning to Deer Valley’s as the reigning World Champion, having won the gold medal in a thrilling men’s aerials showdown just one year ago.
The competition, however, will be very strong on Friday, with Burov’s brother Ilia and their teammate Pavel Krotov, as well as Maxim Gustik of Belarus and the Swiss duo of Noe Roth and Pirmin Werner also expected to contend for podium on Friday.
Last, but not least, the US squad will be represented with a good mix of experienced athletes as well as up-and-comers, with 2017 World Champion Jonathon Lillis leading an ambitious and talented squad ready to make some noise in front of the home crowd in Deer Valley.
Moguls - Thursday
Eurosport 1 (Asia), Eurosport player (Europe), QAZSPORT (Kazakhstan), TRT Sport 2 (Turkey), NBC Sports Gold (USA).
Aerials - Friday
Eurosport 1 (Asia), Eurosport player (Europe), Belarus 5 (Belarus), QAZSPORT (Kazakhstan), TRT Sport 2 (Turkey), NBC Sports Gold (USA).
Dual Moguls - Saturday
Eurosport 1 (Asia), Eurosport player (Europe), QAZSPORT (Kazakhstan), NBC Sports Gold (USA).
Live streaming will be also available on our Youtube channel - MOGULS / AERIALS / DUAL MOGULS. Please note that due to broadcasting rights restrictions, live streaming may not be available in your region. Full list of countries with live streaming available can be found HERE.