Utah Olympic Park hosts first freestyle event on new ski run, Jr. National Championships

PARK CITY, Utah — For the first time since 2017, the US Freestyle Jr. National Championships held the aerials and the moguls events in the same venue, in the same competition March 14-17. That’s thanks to the newly expanded ski runs at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP)

The smaller of the two runs, the one facing east, which is dedicated to moguls, has been named Axios. 

Park City Ski and Snowboard (PCSS) and Wasatch Freestyle had local athletes who qualified to compete.

Close to 300 U15-U19 athletes participated in an extended format making this, according to organizer Chris “Hatch” Haslock, one of the largest freestyle competitions ever held in the United States. He would know, since the retired athlete was the Chief of Competition for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics Freestyle events.

Food trucks kept everyone fed, and large, live video screens kept everyone entertained.

Food trucks at the UOP for Jr. Nationals. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

The aerials jumps were built built behind the summer pool where many of these athletes train, up on the hill between the smaller year-round nordic ski jumps and the UOP’s winter aerials hill, and adjacent to the big air and alpine training hills.

Aerials jump. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

Adding to the action, the new Axios ski run provided the only venue these 300 USA athletes could see and hear a bobsled, luge, skeleton track sending sleds each day, all day. 

dual moguls uop first race
Moguls at UOP adjacent to the Bobsled track. Photo: Michele Roepke // TownLift

Christie Hind, president of host club Park City Ski and Snowboard, told TownLift, “These Freestyle Jr. National Championships have been a huge success thanks in no small part to U.S. Ski and Snowboard, the Utah Olympic Park, Intermountain Freestyle, as well as ‘Hatch,’ Mikaela Wilson, and Chip Harris. The weather has cooperated and it’s exciting to see so many families who’ve traveled to Park City enjoying skiing on and spectating our new ski run.”

Aerialist Cate McEneany, 17, who happens to be Hind’s daughter, is competing. She did aerials in her first world cup at Deer Valley in February Transferring from the Park City High School to complete her senior year at the Winter Sports School, she likes the smaller class sizes and the freedom to train and compete in Europe where she just returned from, and is headed back to next week to represent the USA at the Jr. World Championships.

McEneany told TownLift prior to her start time, “It’s really exciting to have Jr. Nationals right here. This whole season has been a lot of fun for me, and since there aren’t too many local girls who do aerials, it’s great having friends in town I’ve made over the years of traveling to their club comps.” She ended up earning a second place.

Usually venues have to prove their mettle for a few seasons by hosting smaller competitions before winning a bid to host a national event. The UOP’s Axios run hosted a regional event earlier in the season, and divisions rotate events like Jr. Nationals among sections of the country. Utah was next in line to host this season but awarding an event of this magnitude to a brand new ski run could have been seen by some as risky. Commitment to hosting had to be communicated and planned well in advance of when the run was cut, the new Game Changer chairlift was spinning, and the new snowmaking guns were blowing, however nationwide trust in the UOP’s world-class level of course preparation, athlete safety and fair-play made this precarious timing a no-brainer. 

Read the FIS Trick List here which explains the jumps’ names and numbers for moguls and aerials.

The Jr. National were windy during training days earlier in the week but sunny skis provided slush bumps, to no ones complaint.

Local Results Highlights:

U19 Female Single Moguls 3/15/24
1st McKenna Booth – Wasatch Freestyle
2nd Megan Ciaglo – PCSS
U19 Male Single Moguls 3/15/24
2nd  Slader Rodman – PCSS
U19 Female Aerials 3/16/24
1st  Megan Ciaglo – PCSS
2nd  Cate McEneany – PCSS
U19 Male Aerials 3/16/24
3rd  Oliver Kosinski – PCSS
U19 Female Dual Moguls 3/17/24
1st  Megan Ciaglo – PCSS

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