Heather McPhie training on the Ruka course. Ruka, Finland. (Garth Hager)
RUKA, FINLAND (Dec. 13) – The FIS Freestyle World Cup season opens Dec. 15 with dual moguls in Ruka, Finland. Headlining the U.S. Ski Team north of the Arctic Circle are Heather McPhie and Pat Deneen. Last season the U.S. took three of six podium spots with Hannah Kearney in first, and Eliza Outtrim and Sho Kashima in second. Olympic champion, Kearney will sit this one out, while she continues her speedy recovery from a crash in early October. Kearney will compete Jan. 19 at the USANA U.S. Freestyle Cup in Lake Placid, NY. The event kicks off a series of World Cups abroad before the team returns to the U.S.
The first FIS Freestyle World Cup of the season will kick off Dec. 15 in Ruka, Finland with dual moguls.
Ruka marks a series of World Cups abroad before the tour returns to the U.S. for the Jan. 19-21 USANA U.S. Freestyle Cup in Lake Placid, NY.
Headlining the U.S. Ski Team in Ruka is Heather McPhie (Bozeman, MT) and Pat Deneen (Cel Elum, WA) and Eliza Outtrim (Hamden, CT)
Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) will miss the event while continuing to recover from a crash in early October.
The U.S. captured three of six podiums on the Ruka course to open last season.
Eliza Outtrim is the only of the three podium finishers to compete this time around
Following the USANA U.S. Freestyle Cup in Lake Placid, NY, the World Cup moves to Deer Valley, UT for the Jan. 31 - Feb. 2 Visa Freestyle International.
The U.S. Freestyle Team will be announced in a release later this month.
QUOTES Eliza Outtrim I'm excited to be back in Ruka, Finland to kick off the World Cup season with a dual event. I love the good pitch on this course and the cold wintery snow - both make for some awesome rip-able moguls. The past two years I've had great success here with a 4th and 2nd in the singles event. With it being a duals event this year, I'm anxious to see if I can have the same, or hopefully better, success. More than anything, I can't wait to get in the gate again!
Todd Schirman, Freestyle Program Director Ruka is a classic first event to the World Cup tour. The team and staff have been preparing for this moment since last April and now all the hard work will pay off. With last year's success the athletes are very driven, the team knows they can be on the podium consistently and want to prove that they are the best team in the world. I applaud all of the hard work this summer and look forward to a successful season.
Garth Hager, Moguls Coach The course favors those who are confident with their jumps at speed and direct skiing. Times will be faster this year with tighter moguls. Our team has adjusted and gained confidence training here the past week, we are ready, bring on the duals! The U.S. has a history of great results at the World Cup Opening event. We aim to set the tone for the rest of the season on Saturday.