PARK CITY, Utah – The 2017 U.S. Freestyle Ski Team moguls and aerials rosters have been announced, with 37 athletes representing the United States across national and international competitions this pre-Olympic season.
The freestyle mogul season begins Saturday in Ruka, Finland.
This year’s moguls team consists of 21 athletes, including Olympians Patrick Deneen of Cle Elum, Washington, and Bradley Wilson of Butte, Montana, and World Cup winners Mikaela Matthews of Frisco, Colorado, K.C. Oakley of Piedmont, California, and Morgan Schild of Pittsford, New York. Six athletes were also named to the newly instated D team.
Wilson, 24, was part of the U.S. Olympic team at Sochi, Russia, in 2014. His older brother, Bryon, 28, also of Butte, was the Bronze Medalist at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Both Wilsons are mogulists and both have had to undergo reparative surgeries for ACL tears in recent year, costing each more than a year on the World Cup slopes.
Bryon Wilson was not named this week to any of the U.S. Freestyle teams, but is continuing to train and compete in hopes of eventually landing a spot, his father, Bryon Wilson Sr. said in a post on social media.
“Our team completed a lot of great training during the 2016 prep season,” Matt Gnoza, U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Moguls head coach, said. “Our athletes have the commitment, desire and talent that is necessary to become champions. Combine all of that with well planned preparation and hard work, and I firmly believe that this group is more than ready to start the 2016-17 season.”
Bryon Wilson Jr. has also been working on his art and recently was featured with his carvings at a prestigious show.
Wilson made his artistic debut at the annual Kimball Arts Festival held Aug. 12-14 in Park City, Utah.
Wilson’s interest in art began at a young age. Drawing is big in his family and, during weekends up at his grandfather’s cabin, he would draw while his parents were out fishing. Wilson got into carving when he was 16 years old thanks to Al Beavis, a family friend and chainsaw carver in Butte. He spent every day after school up in Al’s garage, learning the tricks of the trade.
When Wilson moved to Utah to pursue his skiing career full time, he worked with Salt Lake City carver Reese Almond to develop his abilities, specifically carving realistic trout.
“Every carving I’ve done since my time with Al and Reese has been a learning process,” said Wilson. “I’ve honed my skill set over the past 10 years and now I’m at a point where I’m happy with my work and willing to put it out there.”
Wilson’s showcase featured a combination of realistic and stylized trout carvings. Composed of tupelo wood, each carving takes about two weeks to complete. Hours of woodworking and painting is required to capture every aspect of the fish, down to the individual scales.
“I’ve looked and looked and looked at fish,” laughed Wilson. “I’ve probably analyzed fish more than any person in the world. There’s a bunch of little details that you have to capture.”
The level of success Wilson has achieved in his mogul skiing stems from his patience, dedication and love for the sport. Those same traits are exhibited in his carvings. But creating a beautiful piece of art is a welcome change of pace from trying to nail the perfect mogul run.
“Art has been a great creative outlet for me during my career,” said Wilson. “It’s relaxing and rewarding. You put in a ton of work and at first it looks so plain; it’s just a block of wood. But once you go through the process and put it all together it’s really cool. It’s something for me to be passionate about outside of my sport.
In its 47th year, the Kimball Arts Festival featured more than 200 artists from around the country, as well as local talent like Wilson, who are the most talented artists in their field.
“The Park City community has helped me throughout my whole skiing career, and it’s cool to share a different side of myself,” said Wilson. “There’s more to the athlete than meets the eye. I’ve always been impressed with the amount of work put into and the quality of pieces at the show, so I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
For more information on Wilson’s art, visit www.bryonwilson.com.
The U.S. aerials team, which has brought home the Nation’s Cup the past two seasons, has named 16 athletes to its roster — 2016 World Cup Champion Ashley Caldwell of Ashburn, Virginia, 2015 World Cup Champions Mac Bohonnon of Madison, Connecticut, and Kiley McKinnon, also of Madison, Connecticut, and brothers Jon Lillis and Chris Lillis, both of Pittsford, who will lead the charge as the team looks to once again be Best in the World.
The aerials team starts with individual and team events in Beida Lake, China, Dec.17-18. The official Olympic test event for both sports will take place Feb.10-11 at Bokwang Snowpark in PyeongChang, South Korea. World Championships are scheduled for March 7-19 in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
Domestic World Cup events for both teams include the Putnam Investments Freestyle Cup Jan. 13-14 in Lake Placid, New York, and the Visa Freestyle International Feb. 2-4 at Deer Valley Resort, Utah. The aerials competition on Feb. 3 will be the first of six qualifying events for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
National Championships for moguls will take place in Steamboat, Colorado, March 31-April 1.
An FIS posting about the Ruka meet said “all eyes will once again be on Mikeal Kingsbury of Canada, who claimed his 29th career victory in Ruka last year as he broke the record for the most career men’s moguls win s previously held for more than 20 years by French legend Edgar Grospiron.
“Matt Graham of Australia and Ben Caver of France, who challenged Kingsbury at every tgurn last year and finished the season in second and third place, respectively, will be looking to match, if not beat, Kingsbury’s speed, technique and trick arsenal … Bradley Wilson could be well seen as an underdog coming into Saturday’s individual competition. Returning at the end of last season, after almost two years off while battling injury, he claimed a victory at Tazawako (Japan) and scored two more Top-1- results before the season ended. Sometimes you can’t mess with good old experience and Wilson, for sure, has plenty of it.”
Following are the United States freestyle moguls teams.
A Team — Patrick Deneen, Cle Elum, Washington; Bradley Wilson, Butte, Montana. Women — Mikaela Matthews, Frisco, Colorado; K.C. Oakley, Piedmont, California; Morgan Schildt, Pittsford, New York.
B Team — Men — Troy Murphy, Bethel, Maine; Thomas Rowley, Long Beach, New York; Dylan Walczyk, Rochester, New York. Women — Nessa Dziemian, East Hempstead, New Hampshire;
Jaelin Kauf, Alta, Wyoming; Keaton McCargo, Telluride, Colorado,
C Team — Men — Hunter Bailey, Vail, Colorado; Ryan Dyer, Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Troy Tully, Armonk, New York. Women — Tess Johnson, Edwards, Colorado.
D Team — Men — Joel Headrick, Fort Collins, Colorado; Emerson Smith, Frisco, Colorado; Abe Studler, Brant Lake, New York. Women — Kaitlyn Harrell, Morro Bay, Clifornia; Hannah Soar, Somers, Connecticut; Olivia Giaccio, Vail, Colorado.
— Compiled from usskiteam.com and FIS Website reports, by Bruce Sayler for buttesports.com.