Once a sport for renegades who hucked daffys and helis off of homemade jumps while others skied within the lines, freestyle has found its longtime home at one of the poshest resorts in the country. And after 16 World Cups, three World Championships, and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Deer Valley Resort knows how to throw down one heck of a moguls and aerials event.
The 2020 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International (a.k.a. the World Cup), held Feb 6–8, returns to the traditional format: moguls Thursday, aerials Friday, and dual moguls Saturday. Buckle up for a high-flying, jaw-dropping—at times, heart-palpitation-inducing—spectacle. Oh, and bring the whole family: the entire event is free to spectators.
Bundle up for the evening finals, or check out the daytime qualifiers and training runs slopeside (intermediate-level Big Stick parallels much of the run, or watch from Carpenter Express). The event typically draws crowds of 5,000 with its feel-good, Olympics-style vibe. “Make noise, show support, bring those cowbells,” says US Ski & Snowboard spokesperson Lara Carlton. “The athletes can hear you, and it really does fire them up.”
For the uninitiated, this is a full-throttle, skiing-meets-acrobatics spectacle. On the moguls side, athletes bomb down notorious Champion run—one of the steepest, longest, skier-buckingest bump runs in the world. Far from the backscratchers of yesterday, today’s freestyle tricks are inverted multirotations performed smack in the midst of a gnarly mogul field—twice. Look for young guns Nick Page and Alex Lewis—both of whom can land a cork 14 (an off-axis spin with a 1,440-degree rotation). On the eye-popping aerials side, the feats only get bigger and higher—reaching 40 to 55 feet in the air—each year as gymnast-skiers launch off of White Owl’s massive 11.5- to 13.5-foot kickers. Keep an eye out for 2017 World Champ Ashley “go big or go home” Caldwell, the only woman to ever land The Daddy (a quadruple-twisting triple flip: a full, double full, full).
And after the on-snow fireworks, stick around for actual fireworks, nightly.
Tips for Attending
Wear cozy layers and warm footwear with tread (or Yaktrax) to ease your way up and down the 20-minute hike to the spectating area.
Parking is limited, so ride the free city bus.
Pack some snacks and beverages (but be sure to pack out or recycle those PBR cans), or purchase DV’s beloved turkey chili, hot cocoa, and cookies from the concession stand.