Freestyle

Ruka Ready for Moguls World Cup Opener

by
Caitlin Furin
2016-12-08 09:18
 

RUKA, Finland (Dec. 8, 2016) – The FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup tour is set to kick off this weekend just below the Arctic Circle in the winter wonderland of Ruka, Finland. The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team will have 12 athletes competing in the moguls competition on Saturday, Dec. 10.

After a very successful on-snow camp in Tignes, France during the month of November, the U.S. team has arrived in Ruka and will begin official training for the World Cup on Thursday. The first competition of the season is always exciting, and a bit nerve-racking, but the U.S. team is ready to put down some solid performances.

“The team is more than ready to get the season under way,” said head mogul coach Matt Gnoza. “We have a few rookies who’re experiencing an international World Cup for the first time, and the veterans are showing the them the ropes, answering questions and leading the team. We’d like to see the athletes ski good, consistent runs, and they’re all capable of doing that. They're excited to get bib’ed up and back in the start gate.”

The 12 starters for this season’s kickoff include last year’s defending Ruka World Cup winner Mikaela Matthews (Frisco, CO) and Olympian Brad Wilson (Butte, MT), as well as young guns Tess Johnson (Vail, CO), Olivia Giaccio (Redding, CT), Joel Hedrick (Fort Collins, CO) and Emerson Smith (Dover, VT), who will all be making their first international World Cup starts.

“It is always exciting to wrap up prep season and step into competition mode for the first time in a few months,” said Matthews. “I get butterflies - both from excitement and nerves - but I’m feeling confident and look forward to seeing our team perform. I love this venue - it’s where I had my first World Cup win. The course is a perfect combination of fun and challenging.”

The competition begins with qualifications at 2:05 p.m. followed by finals at 7:40 p.m. EET. Finals will be live streamed via nbcsports.com/live and the NBC Sports App beginning at 12:40 p.m. EST.

 

Ruka World Cup Start List

Men
Brad Wilson (Butte, MT)
Tom Rowley (Long Beach, NY)
Dylan Walzcyk (Rochester, NY)
Troy Murphy (Bethel, ME)
Joel Hedrick (Fort Collins, CO)
Emerson Smith (Dover, VT)

Women
Mikaela Matthews (Frisco, CO)
Jaelin Kauf (Alta, WY)
Nessa Dziemian (East Hampstead, NH)
Keaton McCargo (Telluride, CO)
Tess Johnson (Vail, CO)
Olivia Giaccio (Redding, CT)

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup tour kicks off on Dec. 10 in Ruka, Finland.
  • The U.S. team is fielding 12 athletes, including defending Ruka World Cup champion Mikaela Matthews and four newcomers to the international World Cup circuit.
  • Competition begins with qualifications at 2:05 p.m. followed by finals at 7:40 p.m. EET.
  • A full event schedule is available from FIS Freestyle.
  • Men’s and women’s finals will be live streamed via nbcsports.com/live and the NBC Sports App beginning at 12:40 p.m. EST.
  • Follow the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.

 

QUOTES

Matt Gnoza, Head Moguls Coach, U.S. Freestyle Ski Team
The team is more than ready to get the season under way. We have a few rookies who’re experiencing and international World Cup for the first time, and the veterans are showing the them the ropes, answering questions and leading the team. We’d like to see the athletes ski good, consistent runs, and they’re all capable of doing that. They're excited to get bib’ed up and back in the start gate.

Mikaela Matthews
[on going into the first World Cup of the season]
It is always exciting to wrap up prep season and step into competition mode for the first time in a few months. I get butterflies - both from excitement and nerves - but I’m feeling confident and look forward to seeing our team perform. This is the first season in a couple years that I am not changing my air package going into the season. I am competing the same jumps as last year, but with the goal of going bigger and executing better. I am looking forward to performing to the best of my ability.

[on competing in Ruka]
I love this venue — it is where I had my first World Cup win last season. The course is a perfect combination of fun and challenging. The exit out of the top air can be especially tricky, but if you hit it right, you are set up for a fast middle section and, ultimately, a floaty bottom jump. I also love the atmosphere of Ruka. It’s so far north that this time of year we only see daylight for a couple hours a day. The landscape is absolutely beautiful. The trees are all white with snow, and because the sun is so low in the sky, it constantly paints the town in a beautiful orange sunrise/sunset. It is certainly a winter wonderland, and the perfect location for a World Cup before the holidays.