Monday, February 02, 2009

World Cup Skiing

This weekend was huge for the local Park City sports scene. Deer Valley and PCMR (Park City Mountain Resort) got together to host skiing's Freestyle World Cup. This includes the moguls, aerial jumping, and the halfpipe. I took advantage of the nice weather and went out to shoot some pictures.

This is the view from the halfpipe looking down at the Park City golf course. During the winter, this area is used as the base for cross country skiing. Between the golf course and some public trails, they have full 5k and 10k courses to ski.

If you haven't ever seen a halfpipe, this is a big one. It is 22 feet from the lip down to the bottom. That means a lot of vertical to gather speed for big tricks, and a long way to fall when you screw up. A decent crowd had gathered to watch the finals.

The most amazing thing is to watch the skiers come flying out of the pipe, twisting and spinning, only to drop back out of sight seconds later. If you happen to be standing where someone pops up, it's a rush!

The main trick for the skiers is to come up spinning. The difficulty increases based on number of spins, crossing skis, reaching down for grabs, or adding a flip.

Big points come to those who get big air. This guy is probably 12-15 feet above the lip, putting him 35-40 feet above the bottom.

You wonder if they ever get a chance to take in the view as they fly by.

Some things look more like "oh my God" moments than intentional tricks.

The next set of pictures are kind of an accidental bonus. Next to the halfpipe is one of PCMR's biggest terrain parks. It has a series of fairly large jumps, and any person (idiot) is welcome to jump in and go for a ride. I was right across from this jump and turned to catch some locals enjoying the day. I think they were as exciting as the international halfpipe competitors.

Notice that there are two people in the air here.

Not hindered by the monstorous halfpipe, these guys just came sailing by, twisting every which way.

A nice grab...

It doesn't look like you should be able to recover from this.

Some actually hit the jump backwards and go from there. I wonder if the person who first thought of twin-tip skis envisioned this. Twin-tips are skis that have the curved up edge on both the front and back, so you can go either direction.

Every once in a while, there would be two guys in the air at once, one right behind the other. You have to wonder what the wreck would look like if the first guys takes a spill.

On that note, it was quite the busy day. Although the competitors didn't get too banged up, PCMR had 4 trips out by AirMed and 4 more by ambulance. Mosts were from the terrain parks and one was another victim of "skier versus tree". If you haven't played that game, the tree always wins.

Now we change venues, heading to Deer Valley. I shot these pictures one night from up near our house. They were holding the aerial jumping finals, and around 7,000 people attend. The jumping area and the mogul runs are lit up for the competitions. I like this view because even from a mile away, the lighting is amazing.

Zoomed in a good bit, you can see the race course and the jump (bottom right). Double click on the picture for a better view.

Trying to squeeze 7,000 spectators into the base of Deer Valley was a bit of a parking disaster. I took this 15 second exposure to get all the car lights and the lodge.

The next afternoon we stopped by to watch the women's mogul competition. These competitors hit a small jump, blast through a long run of moguls, do a second jump, and then a few moguls to finish. Your score is based on speed through the moguls and the quality and ifficulty of your jumps.

Just watching them makes my knees hurt. They are firing up and down like steel pistons.

It is hard to see the size and shape of the moguls in the late afternoon light, but trust me, they are big and frequent.

The jumps aren't nearly as spectacular as anything shown up above, but they are landing into a set of moguls on a steep run!

... and sometimes the jumps don't work out. One competitor was injured after the first jump, and apparently it was bad. This is the ski patrol working to get her onto a tobogan to get her down the hill. They were being very slow and very careful, so I would guess she got banged up pretty bad.

A lesson: if you get hurt in the moguls, do it near the bottom. It took a good half hour to get the tobogan down the run and I am sure it was quite painful. The ski patrolers at the top left are roping the tobogan down as the patrolers on the bottom right try and wrestle it through the bumps.

The AirMed helicopter was back in the picture again. It landed while they were getting her down, but I later heard that she didn't have to fly out. We got cold standing around because the competition had stopped for 45 minutes, so we took off for home.

It was an impressive weekend. A great international competition. The local sports heros did well. The crowds were large and enthusiastic.

Its great to live in a place where all this entertainment is provided for free!
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