Podium finishers, Heather McPhie and Jeremy Cota at the bottom of the FIS Freestyle World Cup opener course in Ruka, Finland (Garth Hager).
RUKA, Finland (Dec. 15) – Heather McPhie (Bozeman, MT) kicked the season off with a bang, winning the FIS Freestyle World Cup opener in Ruka. Teammate Jeremy Cota (Carrabassett Valley, ME) took third for the men proving that the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team was ready to pick up right where it left off last season. McPhie's back-X and signature D-spin, paired with constant skiing kept her atop the leader board for much of the day. Cota, who was eliminated by Alexander Bilodeau, threw back-full and back-X. Last seasons overall winner, Mikael Kingsbury (Canada) took the win for the men. The U.S. ended with four women in the top 10 and three men in the top six. The World Cup action continues next weekend in Kreischberg, Austria.
Heather McPhie (Bozeman, MT) won the World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland
Jeremy Cota (Carrabassett Valley, ME) took third for the men
After qualifications, the U.S. women had five out of six move to finals
K.C. Oakley (Piedmont, CA) was the second U.S. woman placing sixth
Heidi Kloser (Vail, CO) had her most successful duals competition to date finishing in seventh
U.S. men had four of six competing athletes move to finals.
Pat Deneen (Cel Elum, WA) who finished last season ranked second in the world took fifth and Bradley Wilson (Butte, MT) took sixth.
Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) missed the event as she continues to recover from a crash in early October. Kearney will compete Jan. 19 at the USANA U.S. Freestyle Cup in Lake Placid, NY.
The World Cup action continues next weekend in Kreischberg, Austria.
QUOTES Heather McPhie You put in so much work in the off season and you never know how its going to pan out. You just have to stay focused on yourself and your goals and that's what I tried to do. I set the goal today to charge and just go for it. Sometimes I start my seasons off slow in the results category and with a stacked field like there is here, there's no better way than to start off the season than with this win. I'm going to keep pushing myself and pushing the sport.
Garth Hager, Moguls Coach The athletes started off a little nervous. The first event is always a challenge to know how everyone is going to compete and how their off season training has paid off. A clean slate might be an advantage but anything goes in the first event. The team as a whole had a really great start. To have four ladies in top 10 and three men in the top six is a tremendous start. We are all looking forward to carrying this momentum to the next event.