Jay Panther goes big to earn a World Cup start spot at the U.S. Ski Team Selections event in Steamboat. (URTUR/Kirk Paulsen)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO (Dec. 22) – A huge field of 122 athletes from five nations kicked off the 2012 moguls season at the U.S. Ski Team Selections event in Steamboat. Four U.S. athletes picked up FIS Freestyle World Cup start spots based on results from two days of individual moguls. Topping the list was Jay Panther (Park City, UT) and Allison Digravio (Farmington, ME), along with Troy Murphy (Bethel, ME) and Mikaela Matthews (Frisco, CO). Each will get starts in the moguls comps when the World Cup circuit comes to Lake Placid, NY Jan. 19-21 and Deer Valley Resort in Park City, UT Feb. 2-4.
A field of 122 athletes from five nations took part in three days of competition at Steamboat Springs.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) sanctioned events served as U.S. Ski Team Selections.
The event gathered global attention with the return from injury of Japanese superstar Aiko Uemora, who swept the 2009 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in her home country.
Jay Panther took a first and third in the two selection events. Troy Murphy was second and third.
Allison DiGravio and Mikaela Matthews split top American honors over the two selection events, with DiGravio posting a third and fourth, Matthews a third and sixth.
The U.S. Ski Team Selections event provided an opportunity for both U.S. Freestyle Ski Team and non-Team athletes to qualify for domestic World Cup start spots.
Panther (Park City Freestyle) has had five World Cup starts; it will be the first opportunity for Murphy (Planet Ski International Club) at the World Cup level.
DiGravio (Planet Ski International Club) has three previous starts, including an impressive 10th at Lake Placid last year; Matthews (Team Summit) will be making her World Cup debut.
QUOTES Jay Panther I had a great day. I came out and skied a couple great runs today and got the job done. Steamboat put on a great event and it worked out.
This event is an event of consistency you have to go out there and keep putting the same run down. I was able to do that and stay focused. Now I'm ready to ski some World Cup.
I didn't get things done last year (on the World Cup). I will this year, without a doubt. I'm ready, I've been there before and it's not going to be new. I'm excited and thankful for another opportunity.
Mikaela Matthews It felt really good coming of injury - my first comp back. It felt good to stomp a whole bunch of top to bottom runs.
I'm really looking forward to World Cup. It's been a while and I'm really excited I did it.
It feels really good. Monday was my first competition in a year, eight months and eight days. So
Troy Murphy My performance was awesome. I feel really good to lay down two solid runs today and two the other day - nice and consistent.
I'm really excited. I actually foreran the Lake Placid World Cup last year and had a great time. It's good to be with the best in the world. I'll definitely have some hometown crowds back there.
Allison DiGravio I thought it went pretty well. I'm skiing much better than I did last year and happy to get a good start this year.
I'm pretty excited - I did well at Lake Placid last year so I'm happy to go back there. I've skied there a lot over the years. There will be lots of family there - that's for sure.