U.S. Freestyle Championships in Waterville Valley this weekendBy MEGHAN MCCARTHY MCPHAUL
Special to the Union Leader
March 22. 2018 8:37AM
WATERVILLE VALLEY — Freestyle skiing returns to its roots this week, as Waterville Valley Resort hosts the 2018 U.S. Freestyle Championships today through Saturday.
The self-proclaimed “Birthplace of Freestyle Skiing,” Waterville hosted the first national freestyle ski exhibit in 1971. That event featured Wayne Wong, and if Waterville is the birthplace of freestyle, Wong must be the godfather.
The hot-dogger invented several of freestyle skiing’s earliest tricks and appeared in many ski movies.
Waterville has had a freestyle program since 1969 and has turned out countless top skiers. One of those is U.S. Ski Team member Nessa Dziemian, who grew up in East Hampstead and skied for Waterville’s BBTS (Black and Blue Trail Smashers) club as a kid and completed several runs during Wednesday’s training session.
Dziemian is a three-time Junior National Champion and the 2015 National Champion in dual moguls. A year out from knee surgery, she was still deciding whether she will compete in the women’s competition Friday, but said she was glad to be back in familiar terrain.
“It’s always nice being home,” said the skier, who has spent the past five years training from Park City, Utah. “I actually still have my New Hampshire license plate and license. I’m still repping the 603.”
The competition, which opens this afternoon with the men’s qualifying rounds, will be held on Lower Bobby’s Run, which Dziemian described as the perfect pitch for a freestyle event.
The course consists of three sections of moguls interspersed by two lines of jumps. Skiers achieve scores based on quality of their turns, difficulty and form of their airs off the two jumps, and speed.
Sixty-one men and 49 women were registered to compete during Thursday’s training runs. The men’s qualification round is scheduled for this afternoon. Women will ski in qualification Friday morning, with the top 16 men and 16 women advancing to finals Friday afternoon. Saturday will feature both men’s and women’s dual moguls, where two competitors ski head-to-head on the same course.
Waterville last hosted the Freestyle Nationals in 2001, when moguls, aerials, and big air were all contested at the resort. The area received more than four feet of snow last week, which allowed the course crew to set the moguls without the use of special grooming equipment.
U.S. Ski Team members, including several from New England, and top freestyle skiers from various clubs from throughout the country will compete in the National Championship events.