2018-19 U.S. Freeski Team Season Highlights
The 2018-19 season was full of milestones from U.S. Freeski Team rookies and veterans alike as athletes found success across the board at World Cups, the 2019 FIS World Championships, and elite level events across the world. The U.S. collected 15 podiums at World Cups, four World Championship medals, and 10 podiums at X Games and Dew Tour.
The U.S. Freeski Slopestyle Team’s success was highlighted by the performance of the 17 year-old U.S. Rookie Team member Mac Forehand (Winhall, Vt.). Forehand kicked off his season winning the title of 2018 Big Air Junior World Champion in Cardrona, New Zealand. He then went on to finish second at the Stubai, Austria World Cup event and again at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, where he topped the podium. In addition, Forehand’s strong finished at the World Cup level earned him the coveted FIS Crystal Globe in slopestyle. In one season, the young freeskier earned his first World Cup podium, first World Cup victory, and his first World Cup Championship.
U.S. Pro Team member Alex Hall (Salt Lake CIty, Utah) also strung himself together a solid set of results over the course of the season, collecting four top-three finishes. Hall started the season off in December at Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado, where he earned the silver medal in slopestyle. Continuing to X Games, Hall collected his first ever X Games podium with a gold medal, lacing together one of the most creative and technical rail sections seen at elite level slopestyle competition. Hall also had two World Cup podium finishes including a second-place finish at the Modena, Italy, big air event and a first place finish at the Font Romeu, France slopestyle competition.
The women of the U.S. Freeski Team put together a solid season. U.S. Pro Team member Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont.) earned her fourth X Games medal with a bronze and in doing so stomped her left side double cork 1260 in competition. Between Voisin and Julia Krass (Hanover, N.H.) each locking in their double cork rotations this season, the U.S. women remain at the forefront of women’s freeski progression. Also, Krass, a Junior at Dartmouth College, was no stranger to the podium. She won the freeski big air silver medal at the 2019 FIS World Championships in front of a capacity crowd in the Canyons Village at Park City Mountain, Utah, as well as a third-place finish at the Seiser Alm, Italy World Cup.
Just as Forehand had a breakout season, U.S. Rookie Team member Eileen Gu (San Francisco, Calif.) also had quite the year earning her first World Cup podium with a second-place finish in Font Romeu, France slopestyle. In addition, Gu also claimed her first World Cup victory at the Seiser Alm, Italy World Cup in slopestyle.
In freeski halfpipe, there were notable performances from a range of athletes starting with Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado, where Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira (Aspen, Colo.), Aaron Blunck (Crested Butte, Colo.) and double-Olympic gold medalist David Wise (Reno, Nev.) swept the podium, proving that the U.S. Freeski Halfpipe Team is nothing short of a powerhouse. Next, Ferreira continued his success and completed a lifelong dream by winning X Games gold in front of his hometown crowd. Following X Games, Aaron Blunck stepped up to defend his World Championships halfpipe title at Park City Mountain on home soil.
In addition to these landmark performances, highflying U.S. Pro Team members David Wise (Reno, Nev.) and Brita Sigourney (Carmel, Calif.) consistently found themselves in podium contention throughout the winter. In a demanding competition season where athletes were performing week in and week out, these two U.S. Freeski Team veterans earned a total of six combined podiums displaying character, determination, and leadership setting the tone for the entire team. Two young athletes who followed suit included Birk Irving (Winter Park, Colo.) who claimed his first World Cup victory at the last halfpipe event of the season at Mammoth Mountain and Hunter Hess (Bend, Ore.) who earned his first event World Cup podium at Secret Garden, China.
U.S. Freeski Team athletes also found their fair share of success across the 2018 and 2019 FIS Freestyle Junior World Championships. As previously mentioned, Forehand earned the title of Junior World Champion in big air in New Zealand, followed by a team effort in 2019 where the U.S Freestyle Junior World Championship Team earned the Marc Hodler Trophy. Freeski athletes collected six medals across the 2018 and 19 Junior World Championship events.
The well rounded results across the U.S. Freeski Team illustrate growth and progression from the young skiers and experience from the seasoned veterans. With strength on both ends of the spectrum, the dynamic within the U.S. Freeski Team could not be better. As one season comes to a close, it’s difficult not to already start looking forward to 2019-20 as athletes get one step closer to making a run at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games.