Squaw Valley prepares to host U.S. Freestyle Championships | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Squaw Valley prepares to host U.S. Freestyle Championships

SQUAW VALLEY ” U.S. freestyle moguls and halfpipe skiers will be in the hunt for a national title as the final leg of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships Friday through Sunday at Squaw Valley.

“We haven’t had a major event at Squaw Valley in quite a while. It’s going to be awesome to go there. It’s a great mountain to ski,” said U.S. moguls head coach Scott Rawles. “Nationals is always fun for everyone because we get to see who else is on the radar out there. It’s just a really good way to finish out the year.”

The action kicks off Friday with men’s and women’s moguls, where 2008 champions Emiko Torito (Denver) and Michael Morse (Duxbury, Mass.) are in the hunt to defend their titles against a field of stacked competitors, including World Cup moguls champion Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt.), World Championship gold medalist Pat Deneen (Cle Elum, Wash.) and 2002 Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City).

“We’ve never really had an event in my hometown, so I am really excited. It’s going to be awesome,” Bahrke said. “The competition site is at the bottom of the mountain, so everyone can watch without having to ski. Squaw just has such a great vibe. It’s an awesome mountain with lots of local people, and I know that Squaw is going to do a really good job.”

South Shore’s Sho Kashima, who was one of the U.S.’s most consistent male performers during the 2008-09 season, is also expected to compete. Kashima recorded a pair of top-10 finishes at the world championships in Inawashiro, Japan, and finished eighth in the final World Cup men’s moguls standings.

“It’s going to be nice to be close to home,” Kashima recently said. “It’s gonna be on the bottom of the hill, so it will be spectator friendly.”

While three-time U.S halfpipe champion Jen Hudak of Park City, Utah, will not compete due to an injury, three-time defending men’s champion David Wise of Reno will be returning from a second place World Cup finals finish to attempt to make it four straight on Saturday.

“It means something to have that title. It was kind of the event that started my career and it means a lot to be the U.S. champion and have that under your belt. People know that that’s who you are ” best in the U.S. at least for one day,” Wise said. “Every year U.S. Championships has been my event because it’s towards the end of the season, and I’ve got my game on and I’m skiing really well, and I don’t think this year is going to be any different. I’m skiing better than I ever have been.”

Nationals will conclude on Sunday with dual moguls 2008 U.S. champs Michelle Roark (Denver) and Morse trying to reclaim their titles.

“I’m excited to go to Squaw. There are still a lot of things I want to work on in my skiing and having one competition left to do it is good. I’ll hopefully ski my best and, if I’m lucky I can do well again and defend my titles,” Morse said.

The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships will be televised by Versus on Saturday, April 4, at 2 p.m. and Saturday, April 11, at 1 p.m. Times are subject to change, so check local listings.

Friday, March 27: Mogul Competition

– 8:30-10:15 a.m.: Ladies Mogul Training and Qualifications, Red Do

– 9 a.m.-1 p.m.: Ski Halfpipe Official Training, Riviera Park

– 10:30a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Men’s Mogul Training and Qualifications, Red Dog

– 12:30-2:15 p.m.: Ladies & Men’s Mogul Finalist Training & Mogul Finals, Red Dog

– 4-4:30 p.m.: Awards Ceremony in the Village at Squaw Valley

– 5-7 p.m.: Opening Ceremonies in the Village at Squaw Valley with Jonny Moseley

– 7-10 p.m.: Twenty-Two Bistro Party (dinner, apps and drink specials with special guest bartenders Jonny Moseley, Brad Holmes, Shannon Bahrke and Curtis Tischler).

Saturday, March 28: Ski Halfpipe

– 8:15-11:30 a.m.: Ladies and Men’s ski halfpipe qualifications & training, Riviera Superpipe

– 12:30-2:15 p.m.: Ladies and Men’s ski halfpipe finals & Awards, Riviera Superpipe

– 2-5 p.m.: Monster Energy & Alice 97.3 Pool Party, at High Camp featuring live hip-hop with Goodword

Sunday, March 29: Dual Moguls

– 8:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Ladies and Men’s Dual Moguls Training & Qualifications, Red Dog

– 1-2:30 p.m.: Ladies and Men’s Dual Moguls Finals

– 3-4 p.m.: Celebrity Grudge Match (challenge a celebrity to a mogul heat), Red Dog

– 4-4:30 p.m.: Awards, Village at Squaw Valley

– 6:30 p.m.: Banquet Dinner (private), Olympic Village Lodge

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