Olympians highlight the 2014 U.S. Freestyle Championships


Deer Valley hosted the 2014 U.S. Freestyle Championships March 29 and brought in athletes from all over the United States to compete. Many of these athletes had just returned from competing in Sochi.

Ashley Caldwell accepts her first place finish at the U.S. Freestyle Championships. Si Ning, left, and Allison Lee, right, also made the podium. Photo by Sarah Ballard
Ashley Caldwell accepts her first-place finish at the U.S. Freestyle Championships. Si Ning, left, and Allison Lee, right, also made the podium. (Photo by Sarah Ballard)

In the opening event, Olympians Patrick Deneen and Eliza Outtrim had strong runs to claim the first U.S. titles during Friday’s moguls competition. The skiers had plenty of sun and fresh powder, practically perfect conditions.

Deneen was excited to complete his season with the U.S. title.

“Deer Valley is always an interesting animal; I can’t remember ever having a good training day here,” Deneen said. “Coming into today I was a little nervous on how I was going to put my run together, but once I got here the course was in incredible shape. To come out with a victory at Deer Valley is really exciting.”

Fellow Olympian Outtrim was equally impressed about the shape of the course so late in the season.

“The course is really good,” she said. “These guys at Deer Valley rebuilt it a little while ago, so I’m very grateful for that because at the end of the season it can get really rough. The course was definitely nice and slushy for us.”

After returning from Sochi, Outtrim was happy with the title.

“Nationals has always been this big thing because it was so big when I was a kid,” Outtrim said. “I’ve always wanted that title. I’ve never had a singles title, so winning today was an awesome way to close out the season.”

Olympian Bradley Wilson managed to steal a second-place spot on the podium alongside Deneen. Like Deneen, he had casual celebratory plans.

“I’ll probably have dinner with the family — my dad is standing right behind you so that’s why I’ve got to say that,” Wilson laughed. “I’m going to compete on Sunday, so I’ve got to take it a bit easy.”

Wilson was happy to close his season at home but valued his Olympic experience earlier this year.

“(The Olympics) were crazy,” Wilson said. “The experience was amazing, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. The mountains are enormous, beautiful. It was a different atmosphere completely, but the same caliber. We’ve got these really good skiers here and competed against the same ones in Sochi.”

On Saturday, two-time Olympian Ashley Caldwell took her first-ever U.S. aerials title. Alec Carignan led the men’s aerials and also took home his first U.S. title.

Caldwell was pleased that she ended her season injury-free. Saturday’s event marked three years since she was able to compete in Nationals because of injuries.

“I’m really excited to be back and healthy,” Caldwell said. “I got second place in China, my first event back, which really increased my confidence going back into World Cup season. At the Olympics I did my best jumps that I’ve ever done in my whole life. I didn’t perform the way I wanted to, but it’s okay. I had a great time off after the Olympics. Winning nationals is a nice capstone to a good season.”

Wilson and Outtrim topped off the championships on Sunday with dual moguls titles, making it the second victory for both skiers.

With Wilson’s busy season finally coming to a close, he looks forward to being able to take time off.

“I’m definitely going to relax, sit on the couch,” Wilson said. “It’s been forever. We just got back from France, and we were in Voss before that, in Norway, so it’s back to back to back. I was in Sochi for about a month. So it’s good, it’s good to just be here.”

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