Festival of Flight at Utah Olympic Park Tomorrow to Honor Memory of Jeret Peterson

Park City, UT – On Saturday, Utah Olympic Park will host the Festival of Flight from noon until the completion of the 5 p.m. Flying Ace All Stars Fre…

via Festival of Flight at Utah Olympic Park Tomorrow to Honor Memory of Jeret Peterson.

Mammoth to install landing pads

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at ESPN.com:

Mammoth’s plans for 2011 that really caught our attention. For the last decade, California’s Mammoth Mountain has been known for its progressive and ever-expanding terrain parks. This winter, the resort will continue to up its game with the addition of two full-time landing pads and the return of Josh Chauvet, who started his new job as Mammoth’s action sports brand manager on October 4.

Chauvet returns to Mammoth after an eight-year hiatus — he worked as the resort’s terrain parks manager from 1998 to 2002, when he helped launch the ski area’s now well-known Unbound Terrain Parks. He went on to work for Snow Park Technologies, the firm that designs and builds courses for the Winter X Games, the U.S. Open, the Burton European Open and other events. Chauvet also worked as the marketing manager for Nikita Clothing and the action sports manager for southern California’s Mountain High Resort.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Chauvet says. “Mammoth has come a long way — there’s a lot more happening here than when I lived here last. And there’s more infrastructure on the mountain. But the resort is ready to kick things up a notch and bring in some new, innovative things.”

One of those new innovations, Chauvet told ESPN, is the recent purchase of two landing pads, which cushion the landing of a jump to help reduce injuries, bring more people into the sport and let pros try tough maneuvers with less risk. Several resorts have hosted demo exhibitions of landing pads (including Mammoth last May) but Mammoth is the first resort in the country to install them permanently. “The air bags will be part of a new (an as of now unnamed) ‘progression park’ that will include some coaching and other learning components as well as the air bags,” says Mammoth public relations manager Dan Hansen. “There will be a fee for use of this special park.”

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On The Fly With Freestyle Aerialist, Emily Cook

The following is an excerpt from a blog post that was published at skiracing.com:

Just a week ago, each of the 144 steps to the top of the water ramps at the Utah Olympic Park were blanketed in brittle frost. Snow and hail fell from an ominous sky into the 48-degree pool and wind blew sideways, threatening to push us off the ramps. Despite a long, dynamic warm up, layers of fleece and a drysuit, my legs felt cold and a little heavy. There is a natural inclination to get out of frigid water during weather like this, but knowledge that the summer is nearing its end served as motivation to take advantage of the unique training environment provided by summer water ramping.

Early mornings such as this at the Utah Olympic Park, during private U.S. Ski Team sessions, are quiet and focused as athletes prepare for the day ahead. Mogul and aerial coaches work together, sharing secrets and techniques that will propel their athletes to the top of their game, reviewing video to find exactly what is missing that will make the difference.

Like diving or gymnastics, a clean bodyline, dynamic twisting mechanics and flawless landings are essential to performing well. Jumping into a pool allows us the opportunity to work on new tricks and make big changes while reducing the risk of injury. After a long and productive summer we have all made dramatic improvements to style, technique, and overall form, which will surely transfer into high scores this coming winter.

Our ongoing study of biomechanics and training time on the trampoline and in the bungee harness have allowed us to implement techniques that help us to improve twist speed and timing, which is an essential skill when increasing degree of difficulty. Improved performance in areas such as take-off and landing enhances the overall look of a jump and can also make transferring new tricks from water to the 37-degree snow landing hill an easier progression. After each jump, we meticulously review video with our coaches and make subtle changes to things like arm placement and head position in order to work towards precision and successful jumps.

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Wiley Miller: working class hero

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at ESPN.com:

We checked in with Wiley Miller this summer as he was recovering from a torn ACL he sustained during a bad crash in Alaska last winter. If you missed it, check out part 1 of our two-part series on Wiley. Then read below for Wiley’s thoughts on injuries, getting paid to ski and college graduation. You can see Wiley in the latest release from Level 1 Productions, “Eye Trip.”

Rehab
Trying to find the motivation to do the same things over and over again is dulling, to say the least. That’s how I felt rehabbing my knee. Until one particular day, when I was sulking, half-assing my workout and a random guy came up to me and asked about my knee surgery. He was a motocrosser who’d blown out both his knees over shooting a jump. He explained how his injuries were so severe, initially the doctors suggested they amputate his legs. It took him over a year to walk again, and another year until he was back snowboarding. He smiled as he said, ‘I had to sell my house for medical bills but it was all worth it to walk again.’ Meeting him made me realize that life sends us all kinds of inspiration — it’s up to us to recognize it. My workouts eventually turned from a burden to motivating. Improvements started coming rapidly and soon I was crushing my bike on a daily basis.

A New Approach
Right now is a tough time to be an action sports athlete. The lake is only so deep and it’s flooded with more fish daily. I’m fortunate to live close to the brands I ski for and to be able to get involved on a personal and professional level. A few times a week I do the accounting for SAGA. I also have been involved in the design process at 4frnt for my upcoming 2011 pro-model, the YLE. To stay in touch with all the kids I coach part time at the Axis Freeride camp at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. They are all learning so fast on the water ramps. Every 12-year-old has ‘spin to win’ on the brain. I wonder if they take me seriously since I’m broke off but then I remember it’s a different thing to land in powder. I even started a blog. I had to get creative because my name was already taken. So I named it www.yleski.com.

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U.S. Ski Team Names Ossian Head Aerial Coach

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at utahskiandsnowboard.com:

Former freestyle athlete and coach Todd Ossian has been named by the U. S. Ski Team as head aerials coach. Ossian led the successful Australian Team for seven years and also served with the U.S. Ski Team for three years as development coach.

“Todd brings a high level of technical expertise and experience to our program. It will be exciting to see what we can accomplish with his fresh enthusiasm, said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Freestyle Director Todd Schirman. “He has had some amazing success as a coach, which has created great direction for his planning. We are looking forward to see our present and future athletes benefit from his leadership.”

Ossian has been passionate about aerials for a long time. As a child, he grew up on a lake in Minnesota next-door to freestyle’s notable Beddor family. The Beddors, who had several children on the U.S. Ski Team, had their own backyard training facility with water ramps into the lake and trampolines. Once Ossian saw the ramps and tramps, he was hooked.

“The first second I saw that I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen,” said Ossian. “That’s kind of how it’s been for me my whole life.”

Ossian stuck with freestyle and made the U. S. Aerial Ski Team in 1993. He competed on the Team for three years, before a broken hip forced him to take a break from skiing and go to college. Ossian attended Colorado State University, graduating with a BA in Speech Communication. Following graduation, Ossian returned to the U.S. Ski Team not as an athlete but as a development aerial coach.

In 2001, Ossian was offered the Australian head aerial coach position and left the U.S. Ski Team. During his seven year reign, he coached two World Championships medalists and two Olympic medalists, both winning gold and bronze, and three FIS World Cup Aerial Champions. He replaces Matt Christensen, who retired after 12 years.

A main focus for U.S. aerials and Ossian going forward is to ensure the future of the sport by building a strong development program and pipeline for the U.S. Ski Team.

“We want to build a new program and we have a chance now for a new start,” said Ossian. “We know that we have to start recruiting kids. We are trying to really start pushing the development.”

Ossian is positive heading into the 2010-11 season and the 2011 World Championships at Deer Valley. However, the focus is on the future and it’s looking bright.

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U.S. Moguls Ski Team flies down under

The following is an excerpt from an article originally posted at utahskier.net:

After several years of going to Chile, the U.S. Moguls Ski Team switched it up this summer, heading down under for a three week camp at Perisher in Australia. Among the U.S. Ski Team campers were 2010 gold medalist Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT), 2010 bronze medalist Bryon Wilson (Butte, MT), Olympians Heather McPhie (Bozeman, MT) and Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, WA).

“We’ve been going to Chile for the last 10 years,” said Head Moguls Coach Scott Rawles. “It’s been great training down there, but we just felt like Perisher was a good change of pace and this was a good year to do it. There will be some other international teams there, so it will be a completely different dynamic then we’ve normally done.”

The athletes and coaches flew to the Southern Hemisphere on August 2. After a few days to adjust to the 18 hour time difference, the Team buckled their boots and clicked into their skis on August 5. During the 13 days of the on-snow section of the block, athletes focused on individual tasks including tricks and regaining feel for the snow and bumps.

“It was the first on-snow training camp since the competitive season ended, so I was working on getting reacquainted with the feel of my skis,” said Kearney. “I also hiked the bottom jump of the course for three days to avoid the lift lines and work on the tricks and form I had been practicing on the water ramps this summer.”

“My main focus at this camp was my jumping,” said McPhie. “I have been throwing D-spins and back fulls, as I plan on competing at least one of them this season.”

The days were regimented with athletes waking up at 6:15 a.m. for a 20 minutes warm-up jog. Following the jog, they returned to their condos made breakfast and packed a lunch for the hill, all by 8 a.m. The Team then had an hour to arrive at the lodge, warm-up and be ready to start on-snow training for two and half hours at 9:30 a.m. Without wasting time, athletes gathered their gear and headed back to town, eating lunch on the way down from the top of the mountain, completing the morning segment of training.

Athletes arrived home around 1:30 p.m., with a hour and half of free time before heading to the gym at 3 p.m. Upon arrival the crew stretched and warmed-up for their two hour workout ending at 5:30 p.m. The group would return home for dinner and a team stretch, ending the day with video analysis at 8 p.m., before hitting the pillow to wake-up and do it all over again.

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U.S. Ski Team top rookie Heidi Kloser of Vail spends summer training in Park City, Lake Placid

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at realvail.com:

Vail’s Heidi Kloser, the U.S. Ski Team’s 2010 Rookie of the Year, has been busy this summer, splitting her time between Lake Placid, N.Y. and Park City, Utah. Kloser has dedicated her summer to flying high at the Lake Placid and Utah Olympic Park water ramps.

Kloser was named to the U.S. Moguls Team in December 2009 after qualifying at the 2010 selection events. Kloser kept the momentum going, earning four World Cup starts in the 2009-10 season. She made her mark on the circuit, qualifying for the finals in three out of the four World Cup starts. Kloser’s impressive first season paid off when she was recognized as the 2010 Rookie of the Year recipient in March at the World Cup in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

“I found out that I had won the award when I was lying in bed. I just had the stomach flu for a day,” said Kloser. “That was pretty exciting and not expected at all. It made me feel like I can do really well in the World Cups and working hard will pay off.”

Kloser made a three-week move to Lake Placid to train with Wes Preston, a member of the notable moguls and aerials Preston family. Preston also worked with Kloser’s teammate, Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT). While on the east coast, she focused on perfecting her take-off and dialing in on tricks such as back lay outs and back fulls.

“She has a bright future and has worked really hard to get to this point,” said Head Coach Scott Rawles. “She went out to Lake Placid and worked with Wes Preston, who helps Hannah [Kearney] when she’s jumping there. She trained with him in between camps in Park City, so she’s had a really busy summer.”

“At Lake Placid there weren’t as many average skiers that come to just jump for the day or two, and the workout facilities are a little bit different,” said Kloser. “The Utah Olympic Park has a lot more water ramps and Lake Placid’s ramps were nice because there weren’t many people there.”

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Cook hasn’t lost fire for sport

The following is an excerpt from an article published at sltrib.com:

Emily Cook never distanced herself from aerial skiing throughout her 15-year career and does not see herself parting ways with the sport any time soon — although she is taking a break from training until the fall.

Five months after skiing off jumps and twisting into the air at Cypress Mountain en route to an 11th-place finish at the Vancouver Olympic Games, Cook is spending the summer coaching for the FLY program at Utah Olympic Park and taking courses at the University of Utah. One of two aerial skiing Olympic Development Programs in the nation, FLY, or “Freestyle Lives Year Round,” allows athletes ages 7 to 18 to build their proficiency in the sport and provides opportunity to move up into the U.S. Ski Team.

Despite switching from athlete to coach, her enthusiasm for the sport is no different from her earlier years as a young Olympian watching from her nearby Park City house.

“The days I’m not on the pool deck, I’m wondering what’s going on at the pool deck,” she said with a laugh. “When I was injured, I would sit at my window with my binoculars. When they finished prepping the hill, I would come up. It was perfect.”

Cook and fellow FLY coach Tim Preston trained in Lake Placid and remember growing up in the sport with guidance from elite athletes. FLY builds the next generation of athletes and ultimately the next U.S. Olympic team. Cook is especially valuable in that process.

“There’s actually not very many female coaches in aerials right now,” Preston said. “Emily’s a huge asset for the sport.”

After the summer, she resumes training in preparation for the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Championships in February at Deer Valley where she hopes to be on the podium.

Deer Valley hosted the championships in 2003, one year after Cook watched the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in the stands from a wheelchair after breaking both feet in a training crash at Lake Placid. She had secured her spot on the 2002 Olympic team two weeks earlier. Cook hoped to compete in 2003, but her total recovery process took three years.

“I actually remember going up there with my dad thinking I was totally fine and I got to the site and just broke down,” she said.

The tears were temporary, however, and watching her teammates compete gave her newfound determination for her Olympic dream.

“It definitely lit a fire in me,” Cook said. “That’s actually one of the other things I’m most proud of in my career was getting through those three years and coming back strong and having the chance to represent my country at not just one Olympics, but two.”

Cook spent those three years sitting in the judge’s tower of the Olympic Park pool deck at every training session. Not everyone understood how she watched her teammates train without her.

“People were like, ‘How could you do it? Didn’t it break your heart?’ ” Cook said. “No. It would’ve broken my heart to sit at home and think about it.”

The biggest source of inspiration through her injury and entire career has been her father, Don Cook, who gave her skis, boots and a visit to the slopes for Christmas at age 4. Years of enthusiasm and proud moments grew from what began as a shared hobby.

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Not your typical summer job

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at ParkRecord.com:

While many young Parkites are busing tables or lifeguarding at local pools, Austin Cummings and Dylan Ferguson are launching 50 feet into the air making the crowds scream at the Utah Olympic Park. Every summer, the water-ramp shows are among the popular summer attractions at the Utah Olympic Park. While spectators pour in see the breathtaking show, Cummings and Ferguson are clocking in at their typical day at work.

“We get to have fun and show off to the crowd.” Clocking up to 30 mph, the athletes launch off of a 14-foot jump springing 50-60 feet above the water. The shows last 20-25 minutes in which 8-12 athletes perform a series of jumps, “we try to put a lot of people in the air,” says Cummings.

The Flying Productions, the company behind the show, is comprised of a wide range of athletes including coaches, snowboarders, U.S. team mogul skiers and U.S. team aerialists.

“We are lucky to live in P.C. where there is such a high caliber of jumpers that perform in the shows,” says Cummings. The production company creates a win-win situation for the athletes because it provides the necessary training time and some essential income to help pursue the sport.
When plunging into 50-degree water, the athletes wear a wetsuit for warmth, and then a dry suit on top to try and keep out the moisture.

“The skis are the same skis we use for snow, but reinforced with fiberglass to make them stronger,” says Cummings, “it is important to be wearing similar stuff that you wear in the winter cause you want to feel the same as you do when you compete.”

Ferguson, who is 21, is a competitive aerial skier for the U.S. team and has been performing in the water ramp shows for four years.

Ferguson describes the shows as a “competition simulation” because they help the athletes get comfortable, “practicing the tricks that we work on for competition in front of a crowd.”

Cummings has been an aerial skier for 11 years and no longer competes. For the past 8 years, he has been part of Flying Ace Productions during the summer months. He says the production company “is awesome because you are not only getting good training, but it gives you a steady summer job.” With 8-12 athletes in the shows, Cummings adds he is “among good friends.”

“I try to stay in good relationships with the other jumpers, it’s important to not have any grudges when someone could land on you.”

With the combination of high speeds, huge air, and a freezing pool; Cummings explains, “it can be extremely dangerous for the inexperienced.” He is fortunate to have never been injured during a show, but Ferguson hasn’t been as lucky. “In my first show, I was doing a Cork 10 (3 full spins inverted) to my side and I slashed my face and got knocked out. My teammates jumped into the pool and saved me.”

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Colorado skier moves to Utah to pursue Olympic dream

The following is an excerpt from an article published at sltrib.com:

Walter Wood’s life is full of transition.

At age 13, he switched from moguls to free-ride skiing. At 17, he graduated high school a year early. Now 18, he has made Utah his home to train at a higher level in a sport that has yet to receive Olympic status.

Wood’s Olympic dreams began as a 3-year-old following his ski patroller parents. The professional halfpipe skier from Aspen, Colo., said he wants to compete in what he hopes will be his sport’s inaugural Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I want to bring home a gold [medal] from the 2014 Olympics,” Wood said. “If halfpipe gets in, it’ll actually be possible.”

At the 47th International Ski Congress in Turkey in May, the FIS unanimously decided to send a request to the International Olympic Committee to add halfpipe skiing as an Olympic sport for 2014. The United States was one of several nations to support sending a proposal to the IOC, said Tom Kelly, vice president of communications for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association.

“We were successful in getting that proposal passed [in Turkey],” Kelly said. “We anticipate that [IOC] vote sometime next year. We’re hopeful.”

In anticipation of his sport’s Olympic debut, Wood is practicing more difficult techniques and tricks. Last year, he became the first athlete to land a 1620. He placed second at the U.S. National Championships in 2009 and 2010 and first at the 2010 World Skiing Invitational. His skiing has progressed from training at Utah Olympic Park and the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City. Wood said he is focused on the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Championships in February at Deer Valley, where he aims to improve upon his ninth-place finish from 2009.

“Moving out here, I was really able to approach next season with just being a lot stronger,” he said. “I’m here putting my muscles to the test. Training in Utah helps with the mind-set that it’s going to be right next door [next year].”

Wood is no stranger to Utah, having trained in both the Beehive State and New Zealand the past four summers. This year, his days have become fuller, with morning classes at the University of Utah and afternoon training in Park City.

Busy schedules have been part of Wood’s routine since he started traveling with his team at age 15. He credits his teammates and coach Jen Hudak as his biggest inspirations.

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