Vail moguls skier Tess Johnson to get World Cup start in Finland on Saturday | VailDaily.com

Vail moguls skier Tess Johnson to get World Cup start in Finland on Saturday

RUKA, Finland — The FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup tour is set to kick off this weekend just below the Arctic Circle in the winter wonderland of Ruka, Finland. The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team will have 12 athletes competing in the moguls competition on Saturday, including Vail's Tess Johnson.

After a very successful on-snow camp in Tignes, France during the month of November, the U.S. team has arrived in Ruka and will begin official training for the World Cup on Thursday. The first competition of the season is always exciting, and a bit nerve-racking, but the U.S. team is ready to put down some solid performances.

"The team is more than ready to get the season under way," said head mogul coach Matt Gnoza. "We have a few rookies who're experiencing an international World Cup for the first time, and the veterans are showing the them the ropes, answering questions and leading the team. We'd like to see the athletes ski good, consistent runs, and they're all capable of doing that. They’re excited to get bib'ed up and back in the start gate."

The 12 starters for this season's kickoff include last year's defending Ruka World Cup winner Mikaela Matthews (Frisco, CO) and Olympian Brad Wilson (Butte, MT), as well as young guns Tess Johnson (Vail, CO), Olivia Giaccio (Redding, CT), Joel Hedrick (Fort Collins, CO) and Emerson Smith (Dover, VT), who will all be making their first international World Cup starts.

"It is always exciting to wrap up prep season and step into competition mode for the first time in a few months," said Matthews. "I get butterflies – both from excitement and nerves – but I'm feeling confident and look forward to seeing our team perform. I love this venue – it's where I had my first World Cup win. The course is a perfect combination of fun and challenging."

The competition begins with qualifications at 2:05 p.m. followed by finals at 7:40 p.m. EET. Finals will be live streamed via nbcsports.com/live and the NBC Sports App beginning at 12:40 p.m. EST.

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Ruka World Cup Start List

Men

Brad Wilson (Butte, MT)

Tom Rowley (Long Beach, NY)

Dylan Walzcyk (Rochester, NY)

Troy Murphy (Bethel, ME)

Joel Hedrick (Fort Collins, CO)

Emerson Smith (Dover, VT)

Women

Mikaela Matthews (Frisco, CO)

Jaelin Kauf (Alta, WY)

Nessa Dziemian (East Hampstead, NH)

Keaton McCargo (Telluride, CO)

Tess Johnson (Vail, CO)

Olivia Giaccio (Redding, CT)