LAKE PLACID, NY ??вЂќ World and Olympic champions return to Lake Placid for three days of competition over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend with daredevil high-flying twists and flips.
The 2005 Nature Valley Freestyle Cup, a stop on the international World Cup tour, is slated for Jan. 14-16 with aerial competitions on Friday and Sunday at the MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex and the mogul contest on Saturday on Whiteface Mountain??в„ўs Wilderness trail.
Spectators will be amazed with the huge airs freestyle skiers get on and off snow. Since the 2002 Olympics, competitive moguls has evolved to include inverted maneuvers. Inverts like the Hucklebuck, 720 Sushi Roll and the Cork-7 Iron Cross widen the horizon for athletes to be more creative and gives spectators an incredible show.
The Nature Valley Freestyle Cup will air on NBC Sunday, Jan. 23 at 4:30 pm.
Norway??в„ўs Olympic golden girl Kari Traa will be pushed by the North American women including 2002 Olympic silver medalist and 2003 World Cup champion Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA). Bahrke was the first women in World Cup history to compete, land and end up on the podium with a D-spin (inverted-double revolution air) by a woman in 2004. Bahrke??в„ўs 2004 season was cut short in Japan after fracturing her jaw, the first major injury of her skiing career, so she is coming back in 2005 with a vengeance. Canadian Jennifer Heil, the defending World Cup champion, has put the pressure on the field with another first place finish in France earlier this season.
Olympic gold medalist Janne Lahtela (FIN) leads the men??в„ўs mogul pack. However, U.S. mogul skiers Travis Mayer (Steamboat Springs, CO), Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) Travis Cabral (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Luke Westerlund (Breckenridge, CO), David Babic (Washington, VT) and Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO) are charging to the front of the pack. Olympic silver medalist Mayer, who skipped most of last season to focus on college, returned to World Cup moguls fulltime in December and finished second in the opening event. Mayer spent time at the Kodak Sports Park freestyle training facility in Lake Placid, and has performed at the top of his game in previous competitions in the two-time Olympic village.
Australian Jacqui Cooper and Emily Cook (Belmont, MA) are returning from injury to women??в„ўs aerials this season. Aussie teammate Lydia Ierodiaconou, Russia??в„ўs Anna Zukal and China??в„ўs Nina Li lead the women??в„ўs field. U.S. aerialists Kate Reed (Montrose, CO), Kelly Hilliman (Tonawanda, NY) and Sharlee Strebel (Layton, UT) are fully equipped after rigorous training sessions throughout the year, to land on the podium. Cook, who injured herself weeks before the 2002 Olympics while preparing for a World Cup at Lake Placid, is back on skis after two seasons away and is ready to challenge her teammates for a spot on the 2006 Olympic Team.
Olympic gold medalist Ales Valenta (CZE) is the current men??в„ўs aerials tour leader with Martin Walti (SUI) and Han Xiaopeng (CHN) close behind. Olympic silver medalist Joe Pack (Park City, UT), Ryan St. Onge (Fraser, CO) and Jeret ???Speedy??? Peterson (Boise, ID) hope to rattle the cage and win on their home turf.
Admission to Friday??в„ўs and Sunday??в„ўs aerials is $10 for adults, $6 for juniors and seniors. A lift ticket or season pass is all that??в„ўs needed for a box seat alongside the Wilderness course on Saturday. Awards will be handed out on-site following each event.
For more information on ORDA venues and events, and for web cams from five locations, please log on to www.orda.org.