ARE, Sweden — The renowned Are resort saw the FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup taking center stage on Friday as the first competition of a big weekend in Sweden.
With the course in perfect condition and the moguls skiers in prime form following an incredible showing at the World Championships in Voss, the skiing on display was again top-notch, with Bozeman resident Heather McPhie of Team USA and Alex Bilodeau of Canada claiming big victories.
Butte brothers Bryon and Brad Wilson competed for the United States men’s team. Brad Wilson, 20, placed fifth while Bryon, 24, placed 38th in a field of more than 60 skiers. The younger Wilson is a 2011 graduate of Butte Central Catholic High School, is the reigning World Junior champion and also the 2011-12 World Cup men’s moguls Rookie of the Year. Bryon Wilson was the 2010 Winter Olympics Bronze Medalist in the discipline and missed most of the last season recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in the 2011 season. He graduated from Butte High School in 2006.
The women’s side of moguls grows more intriguing with every event, as Hannah Kearney of the United States and Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada continue to swap the yellow leader’s bib back and forth. With Friday’s competition, that bib now falls back on the shoulders of Dufour-Lapointe, as a solid if unspectacular showing saw her land in fifth place while a mistake-riddled run by Kearney saw her end up somewhat uncharacteristically in 14th.
Things get even more interesting when the make-up of Friday’s Are podium is added into the equation, as McPhie, with her impressive win, moves to within 14 points of Kearney and 38 of Dufour-Lapointe. Not to be forgotten is Eliza Outtrim of the United States as the third of the big American three secured second place on the day with a performance that puts her very much back in the Crystal Globe conversation.
“It feels amazing to winl“ McPhie said. “I’ve been having a bit of a rough time lately, trying to bring in some new tricks, so I just wanted to get back to my skiing today. It’s definitely a challenging course here, in a really fun way. I just went out there and focused on myself and I’m psyched to be back up on top of the podium.
“I love my bottom air D-spin. I love to push myself, I love to push the sport, and it’s so exciting to do. It keeps me skiing fast and pushing hard.”
For McPhie, it was her third win of the season, while Outtrim found the podium for the fourth time this year. The two Americans were followed up by Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhastan in third, as the young skier was able to nab her second podium of the 2012-13 World Cup season.
For the men, the Mikael Kingsbury, Bilodeau, and Patrick Deneen show keeps rolling on, as those three skiers continue to swap places on the podium, if not in the overall standings. Both Bilodeau and Kingsbury, both Canadian, admitted to making mistakes in their superfinal runs on Friday, but it was Bilodeau who made less of them and was able to walk away with a fairly dominant victory, besting second-place Deneen by a score of 26.24 to 25.13. Deneen is an American.
Kingsbury, with a sketchy landing on his bottom-hit 1080, ended up in third with a score of 25.00.
Those top three skiers remain static in their positions on the moguls World Cup leaderboard, with enough breathing room in between Kingsbury and Bilodeau and in between Bilodeau and Deneen that it seems unlikely we will see any movement in those rankings before the end of the season. Kingsbury is also sitting quite comfortably in the driver’s seat in the race for the Freestyle overall Crystal Globe, and will be looking to lock that award up for the second straight season come Saturday.
Saturday is, of course, the dual moguls portion of the moguls two-parter in Are.
— The International Skiing Federation