Best in snow: Top 5 local stories (other than Shiffrin) in the world of professional snow sports
Area FIS and FWT athletes made their mark in 2022
It’s not all about Mikaela Shiffrin, all the time. A slew of epic World Cup and Freeride World Tour performances made headlines in 2022 — at least enough to count on one hand.
No. 5: Johnson and Owens battle for Olympic spot
In one sense, having two local mogul skiers vying for a final Olympic spot is a good problem to have. Johnson, a 2018 Olympian, just missed qualifying outright for the 2022 Games. The team selection deliberations were the “two hardest days of my life,” she told Vail Daily earlier this year. The resilient Johnson moved past Beijing with big goals, however, had a great summer of training and recently placed seventh in the Alpe d’Huez World Cup.
17-year-old Owens, returning to her birth country of China for the first time since being adopted as a 16-month-old baby, sustained a crash during the Olympic practice session, but secured a gutsy 10th place finish in her Olympic debut. Owens finished third in the overall dual moguls standings. The University of Utah freshman hasn’t competed this year as she recovers from another injury suffered at the end of the season.
No. 4: Lemley wins first career World Cup
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While we’re talking about moguls, Liz Lemley announced herself to the World this January with a sixth-place finish in Deer Valley in just her third-career start as a 15-year-old. In Idre Fjall this month, the 16-year-old won her first World Cup, a dual moguls in Idre Fjall, Sweden.
No. 3: River delivers
With eyes fixed on Shiffrin during the Beijing Games, waiting for a podium, River Radamus provided a surprise fourth place in the giant slalom. The aggressive skier didn’t reach the bottom of the Birds of Prey course in 2021, but in 2022, he gunned to a 16th-place super-G finish from bib 57 — the highlight of the local World Cup’s final day.
No. 2: Del Bosco comes home
The three-time Canadian Olympic ski cross star switched to the U.S. for his 16th World Cup season. The 40-year-old EagleVail athlete, who grew up racing Alpine but was kicked off the U.S. development team after positive marijuana tests eradicated two national titles, is looking to spearhead the formation of an official ski cross team under the U.S. Ski and Snowboard umbrella.
No. 1: Blake Moller wins Freeride World Tour overall title
Last year, Blake Moller knocked on the door. In 2022, he stomped it in. After a dazzling rookie Freeride World Tour campaign that saw the 21-year-old Edwards product slip to second overall after possessing the golden leader’s bib up until the Verbier final — “I just didn’t show up as well,” he stated about his 2021 third-place finish — Moller took second at the 2022 season’s final stop on March 26 at the legendary Bec de Rosses course to win the overall world title.