WINTER PARK – Two words best describe what Telluride’s Freestyle Team carried out at last week’s U.S. Selections moguls events in Winter Park: mission accomplished.
Consistently solid skiing landed Ridgway’s Joe Discoe a berth on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team’s C team. He joins his brother Jimmy as the most recent TSSC Freestyle Team member to have made the U.S. Ski Team.
The Freestyle Team also saw its other skiers land spots on the NorAm tour, making the early season, three-competition Selections event – in which the nation’s best up-and-coming mogul skiers try to make a name for themselves on the international ski stage – a bright spot on what promises to be an exciting 2008-09 winter season.
Winning spots on the U.S. Ski Team and NorAm tour stood at the top of the list in terms of these skiers’ goals for this season, according to Telluride Freestyle Team coach Caleb Martin. “It was really a great weekend for the team,” Martin said.
After qualifying in first place in the preliminary round, Discoe sped to a fourth-place finish in Thursday’s finals behind Sho Kashima, David DiGravio and Jeremy Cota. He turned up the intensity in Saturday’s single moguls event, with a final round score of 24.33 putting him in second place (again behind Kashima).
With the top two skiers being awarded U.S. Ski Team spots, the Selections victory represented a major accomplishment for Discoe, who will now begin training with U.S. Ski Team coaches.
“He’s been so close so many times,” Martin said, referring to Discoe’s third-place standing in last season’s NorAm Grand Prix and his third-place finish at Selections before that. (Only the top two skiers in the NorAm tour or at the Selections event win spots on the U.S. Ski Team.) “This event is always such a pressure cooker, but for two full days he was even-keeled and focused. He was able to take some of the pressure off himself this week and have some fun… I think it bodes well for his entire season.”
Discoe’s brother Jimmy landed a berth on the U.S. Ski Team last winter, but suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the spring. Fortunately, Jimmy is “ahead of schedule” in terms of his recovery, Martin said. At only 10 months after reconstructive surgery, Jimmy has already skied mogul runs top to bottom, though he did not compete at last week’s Selections, giving himself an extra month of training over Christmas before returning to the competitive circuit in January.
TSSC’s Zak Watkins, Lindsey Cannon, Lane Stoltzner, and Wade Parkinson also celebrated a triumphant week of competition at the Selections event. Cannon, whose results from last season automatically landed her a spot on the U.S. Ski Team’s D team and starts at the NorAm tour, broke into the top 10 on day one of single moguls, finishing 10th. She placed 13th on Saturday. Teammate Stoltzner was just a few hundredths of a point away from breaking into the finals on both days of single moguls competition, finishing 19th and 18th overall. At Sunday’s dual moguls event, she qualified in the top 16 to make it into the finals, where she lost in the first round. Yet her consistently solid skiing throughout the three-event Selections series earned Stoltzner a position on the start lists at NorAm Tour events this season.
Watkins will also make it onto NorAm start lists this season, thanks in part to his fourth place finish at Sunday’s dual moguls event. He had placed 19th in Thursday’s single moguls but climbed to a commendable eighth at Saturday’s singles contest.
Parkinson, who had just wrapped up finals at CU Boulder’s engineering school before heading to Winter Park for the event, is also likely to be announced as a NorAm tour skier following last week’s performance, in which he finished in the top 20 in each event.
What made the week’s accomplishments even more striking was the fact that half of the team was suffering from violent bouts of the flu. Both Discoe and Watkins were struck with illness the night before the first single moguls contest, while Parkinson was sick with the bug the morning of Sunday’s duals event.
“It showed a lot of composure – the fact that they were all still able to ski at that high a level is pretty impressive,” said Martin. “They all dug deep this weekend and got things done.”
The team will have a two-week block to train in Telluride over the holidays, after which the NorAm tour begins with events in Killington, Vt. and Mt. Gabriel, Canada. The first World Cup event of the season is scheduled for mid-January at Deer Valley, Utah.
Discoe will join the U.S. Ski Team for training leading up to those events, after being “officially” handed over by Martin to U.S. Ski Team coaches. When asked how it felt to see another of his skiers move up into the ranks of the U.S. Ski Team, Martin said it was satisfying. As he explained, the Discoe brothers deserve it.