Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat skier Michael DeGrandis throws a No. 1 up in celebration Sunday after finishing his run in the finals of the dual moguls event at the Freestyle Junior Nationals in Steamboat Springs. After finishing second in the individual moguls Friday, DeGrandis won Sunday’s competition.
Steamboat Springs moguls skier Michael DeGrandis made the joke: “Correction,” he announced, moments after the public address system boomed with the results from Sunday’s dual moguls competition in Steamboat Springs, the final event of the Freestyle Junior Nationals.
He was referencing Friday’s moguls event, when an announcement that he was the event’s champion was followed up seconds later but another, placing him in second.
There was no joke Sunday, though. DeGrandis ripped up the course and the competition, and in his final shot at Junior Nationals secured his first championship, winning the dual moguls at Steamboat Ski Area.
“I skied the best run I could have on that last run,” DeGrandis said.
Sunday’s dual moguls competition signaled the end of the five-day Freestyle Junior Nationals.
DeGrandis won tight contests in the semifinals and finals of the dual moguls bracket. He edged Winter Park’s Bruce Perry Jr. in the semis, however, racing the diminutive but speed-demon skier down the slope. Trevor Semmens wowed the crowd with huge tricks in the finals, but DeGrandis prevailed again and locked down the win.
“I was pretty sure I had it, but Trevor is a heck of a skier and you never know in duals,” he said. “I was skiing confident. I came out and said, ‘Game on, all day. Go down, ski the same run, keep it quick and clean.’”
The final run between DeGrandis and Semmens was close. The same kind of drama wasn’t there as Anna Park skidded across the finish line to win the women’s title. Second in Friday’s individual moguls, she had first locked up early in the final run Sunday when Tali Peters stumbled after the first jump.
Park still had to ski to the bottom, hit a trick and land. That’s no easy task, she said, but when she saw her competition go down, she knew things were looking up.
“I was pretty nervous up top but came around on my 360 on the top jump and saw the other girl fall,” Park said. “After that, you just have to make it down, don’t fall and have a clean run.”
Outside of DeGrandis, Steamboat’s biggest performance came from Avital Shimko, who pulled off a shocker in the round of 16, beating U.S. Ski Team member and Friday individual moguls champ Ali Kariotis. Shimko pulled off that upset, then won again in the quarterfinals. She couldn’t maintain that momentum and lost her final two runs, but fourth place sat just fine with her.
“I pushed it and did my best. I skied my run,” she said about the showdown against Kariotis. “I had a good night’s sleep. I was super excited and just did my best.”
Alex Jenson was third on the women’s side. Perry was third on the men’s side.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com