STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado – After taking second and third places in the moguls competition Saturday, Nessa Dziemian of East Hampstead, New Hampshire and Tom Rowley of Long Beach, New York, battled their U.S. teammates to take the title of dual moguls national champions at the USANA U.S. Freestyle Championships on Sunday.
Butte skier Bryon Wilson had posted a 13th-place showing in moguls Saturday and then roared back Sunday with a season-best runner-up placing in dual moguls. Wilson, 26, and a 2006 Butte High graduate, was the 2010 Winter Olympics Bronze Medalist in men’s moguls. He suffered a torn ACL the following winter during the World Cup season and has since successfully bounced back from the injury, the reparative surgery and the recovery to again be an international force in the sport.
World Cup winner K.C. Oakley of Piedmont, California, was second for the women followed by Mikaela Matthews of Frisco, Colorado, in third. Joe Discoe of Telluride, Colorado, finished third for the men.
As the field narrowed after each round of duals, it became a battle of U.S. Freestyle Ski Team athletes. Rowley went up against teammates Troy Murphy of Bethel, Maine, and Discoe before taking the win. Dualing against teammates can be tough, but it also brings out great skiing from the competitors.
“It’s fun to ski against my teammates,” said Rowley. “It’s challenging. Our team is good and fast, so you have to bring up the intensity when you dual them.”
Rowley has been on a roll the second half of the season, landing on the podium at World Cup finals and taking home World Cup Rookie of the Year. The national title was a great ending to Rowley’s 2015 season.
“It was a good weekend,” said Rowley. “I’m hoping to continue to ski well next year, build off the success this year and get some wins.”
Dziemian claimed the title in a very similar fashion, holding her own through five rounds of duals against veterans on the national team.
“It’s really fun to ski against the older girls,” said Dziemian. “They’re really good competitors and really good role models to look up to. It’s really neat to finally be skiing against them consistently round after round.“
Dziemian, who was the 2015 overall NorAm tour winner, skied strong and consistently all year. The conditions Sunday gave her a chance to push the limits.
“The course was really fun,” said Dziemian. “It was slushy again, so I knew that it was a good day to jump big and ski fast. I was really proud of my skiing, and I’m hoping to bring that along through next year.”
Hannah Kearney of Norwich, Vermont,added a fourth mogul national title to her impressive career, while Murphy earned his first U.S. Champs win in competitions Saturday. Dziemian and Keaton McCargo rounded out the podium spots for the women, with Discoe and Rowley taking second and third for the men.
With the World Cup tour behind her and the mogul and freestyle globes sitting at her house in Vermont, one might think the pressure for Kearney was off. But she was striving for perfection, and Saturday’s competition, the last of her career, was another opportunity for Kearney to analyze and improve her skiing.
“Today wasn’t the perfect run I wanted,” said Kearney. “Yesterday in qualifications, I had a big bobble in the middle section. Turns are worth the most, so I focused on clean skiing. That’s what I’m kind of known for. That’s exactly what I did today.”
Murphy, who is known for his high degree of difficulty on the jumps, threw down a huge double full on the top air and a cork 10 on the bottom. Rowley, who led the pack after qualifications, also put down a run with impressive airs, but had a small bobble on the bottom jump, sliding him into the third spot.
“I’m really happy with the win,” said Murphy. “I like coming to this event because I get to see all my old buddies that I grew up skiing with. So to do well in front of all of them is awesome. To ski well against all my teammates, who are awesome, is an accomplishment, so I’m really happy.”
National team members packed the top 10 in both the men and women’s fields, but young skiers from around the country put down impressive runs on the soft bumps.
National team members Mikaela Matthews, Sophia Schwartz, K.C. Oakley and Ali Kariotis finished fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth in the women’s runs.
Sho Kashima, Dylan Walczyk and Wilson finished fourth, fifth and 13th, respectively.
Brad Wilson,22, a 2011 Butte Central graduate and younger brother of Bryon Wilson, missed the moguls season because of a torn ACL suffered in December while practicing for the first meet of the 2014-15 schedule. He competed for the United States in the 2014 Winter Olympics. He has had surgery to repair the ligament tear, is participating in an injury rehabilitation designed and overseen by U.S. Olympic Team medical personnel and is hoping to rejoin the World Cup circuit next season.
— Reported by usskiteam.org