Photo courtesy of Deer Valley Resort.

Though the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics are long gone, the Utah Games have ensured that a notable legacy of elite winter athletes will continue to do great things in this state. So with the 2014 Winter Olympics now less than one month away, athletes across many disciplines have been making the pilgrimage to compete on Utah’s snow and ice to vie for a plane ticket to Sochi, Russia.

This is why the FIS Freestyle World Cup has returned to Deer Valley Resort, now through Jan. 11, slightly earlier than normal. It’s the second-to-last Olympic qualifying event for freestyle skiers looking to earn a spot on the team, with the final qualifier taking place at Lake Placid, Jan. 15–18. And although it’s an important event for the skiers, it’s just as coveted for the spectators in Park City.


Photo courtesy of Deer Valley Resort.

Every year, thousands of people turn out for this annual event, which conjures the showmanship of Cirque du Soleil acrobatics with the powerful athleticism of super-skiers. This week shouldn’t be any different. For discerning freestyle followers, you’ll see familiar names stacked on the scoreboard. Mogul and aerial skiers like Olympic champs Hannah Kearney and Emily Cook, bronze medalist Bryon Wilson, and World Cup podium finisher Dylan Ferguson will undoubtedly woo the crowd with a preview of what to expect in Sochi. For many of us, it’s the closest we’ll get to heading overseas and watching the Olympics in person.

And that’s just fine. A warm jacket and a stout pair of boots are far cheaper anyway. (Which, by the way, you’ll want for the quarter-mile slog up a ski run. Might as well pack a thermos, too.) Here are the FIS Freestyle World Cup events you can catch this weekend:

Friday, Jan. 10
Aerials, Deer Valley Resort
11:35 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. – Women’s Qualifications
2:10 – 3:40 p.m. – Men’s Qualifications
6:35 – 6:50 p.m. – Showcase
7 – 8 p.m. – Women’s and Men’s Finals

Saturday, Jan. 11
Moguls, Deer Valley Resort
3 – 3:55 p.m. – Women’s Moguls Qualifiers
5 – 6:15 p.m. – Men’s Moguls Qualifiers
7 – 8 p.m. – Women’s and Men’s Finals

All events are free to the public, but if you can’t make the festivities, the US Ski Team will be streaming all events live at usskiteam.com. For additional information and a detailed schedule, visit Deer Valley’s website

Deer Valley Resort: 2250 Deer Valley Dr. S, Park City; 800-424-3337