U.S. Freestyle’s Heather McPhie wins gold at Visa Freestyle International World Cup in Deer Valley

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 14, 2010 3:50 pm

Heather McPhie had a good day today in Deer Valley. Not only did the Montana native nab her first World Cup podium, she won the gold medal in the moguls event at the Visa International Freestyle World Cup and snagged a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

“I left everything out there today and it feels so good,” McPhie said joyfully at the bottom as she fought back tears. “I was just there, just totally in the moment. I had no reservations. I wanted to give it everything I had, and I did it.”

McPhie had a perfect, clean run, and landed a back layout that was worthy of the freestyle aerials event. Ironically, though, McPhie’s win was a tie-with 2006 Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Heil. Both scored a total of 24.59 points, and in spite of an intricate tie-breaking formula, the judges were unable to seat one athlete ahead of the other.

 The fact that McPhie had to share her gold medal wasn’t an issue. “It’s my first podium, it’s pretty much a guarantee for the Olympics and it’s everything I could possibly dream of,” she said.

Heil also didn’t mind sharing the win, and was just happy to carry momentum into Vancouver. “I feel like I’ve won the lottery to be able to compete in the Olympics in my home country,” Heil said.

McPhie’s medal wasn’t the only one for the American women. 2002 Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke again smoked the Champion course at Deer Valley (the same one on which she won her silver), to handily claim the bronze. “I tried to go as big and as fast possible,” Bahrke said with her huge trademark smile. “And to be on the podium and share it with Heather is really cool.”

The third-place finish will likely place Bahrke on the U.S. Olympic Team and she couldn’t be happier about again representing her country at the Games. “Vancouver will be the tippy top of the cake of this awesome career that I’ve had,” Bahrke said.

On the men’s side, 2009 World Champion Pat Deneen was the top American, finishing fourth. The Seattle-area skier was relaxed as he’d already claimed his Olympic Team berth by winning the Olympic Trials last month in Steamboat.

Newcomer Jeremy Cota placed sixth, but the rest of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team men were not as satisfied. Four others qualified for the finals: Mike Morse, who placed eighth, David Babic who was just behind him in ninth, Dave DiGravio who skied to 11th, and Bryon Wilson, who had trouble landing an air, and placed 16th. The men all were looking for at least a top five to help secure an Olympic spot.

Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith, who blew his knee out on the same course last season, came back for the win, with Frenchman Guilbaut in second and Dmitriy Reiherd of Kazakhstan in third.

The mogul skiers now have a day to rest before competing in the dual moguls event, on Saturday evening. Tomorrow night the aerialists will take to the skies, and World Champion Ryan St. Onge, Speedy Peterson and Emily Cook will all be gunning for gold. Last season, it was St. Onge who claimed the gold at Deer Valley.

Check back at the skichannel.com for the results!