The Discoe Brothers, Joe and Jimmy, competed at a World Cup freestyle event in Lake Placid last Thursday, their final chance to earn a spot at this winter’s Olympic games in Vancouver.
The Lake Placid event took place less than a week after the Visa Freestyle International in Deer Valley, where Jimmy finished 21st and 12th on the two days of competition and Joe finished 30th and 38th. Either Discoe would have needed to podium at the Lake Placid event in order to be considered for the Olympic team, which was announced Tuesday morning. Joe finished 25th and Jimmy finished 28th, leaving both Discoes out of Olympic contention.
“Of course you try to win every event, but this one being the last chance to make the Olympics made it a little more difficult to keep your cool,” Jimmy, the younger brother, said of the Lake Placid event. “Trying to stay focused on your training, knowing that you have to podium or you’re not going to the Olympics, it’s a little more difficult with that mindset.”
Joe, who got a last-minute start at Deer Valley because of an injury to teammate Sho Kashima, was also initially an alternate for Lake Placid, but learned a few days before the event that he would get the start.
“They told me coming out here that I would have a start,” he said. “So I was a little more prepared. You just have to go up, not matter what, and ski your best.”
Joe was the last skier out of the gate for qualifying runs (the order is selected randomly), as he finished with a 22.38.
“It was by far my best run on World Cup this year, really good run overall except I drifted off the bottom air,” he said. “Enough for them to notice.”
Jimmy was 50th out of the gate for qualifying runs, just three spots ahead of Joe, but a bobble coming out of the top air cost him, as he finished with a 22.08.
“I skied out a couple bumps, got out on my heels and got bucked out to one side of the line,” he said. “After that I diced my run, had good turns and a good bottom air, but I need to work on my entrances and exits into and out of my airs.”
The Olympic spots on the men’s side went to Bryon Wilson, who finished 4th at Lake Placid, Nate Roberts, Michael Morse and Pat Deneen. On the women’s side it will be Hannah Kearney, Shannon Bahrke, Heather McPhie and Michelle Roark who grabbed the top four spots (in that order) at Lake Placid.
“It’s kinda difficult to see some of those guys go [to the Olympics], knowing that in the past, you’ve beat them 50 percent of the time,” Jimmy said. “But we’re all good friends, so I’m pumped to see them go. We’re all right there with them, especially on the guys’ side, any one of us could’ve gone this year.”
Jimmy and Joe will finish out the season competing on the North American Cup (NorAm) tour, joining fellow Telluride skiers Wade Parkinson, Zak Watkins and Lindsey Cannon, as well as Telluride-turned-Steamboat skier Lane Stoltzner. NorAms consist of five events throughout the U.S. and Canada, and the first will take place this Friday and Saturday back in Lake Placid.
“The course here is pretty flat, but they built the bumps super tight, super sharp and abrupt; everyone had trouble the first two days,” Joe explained. “Since I’ve actually skied the course for four days now, I know it pretty well so I should have a head start on everyone else.”
Jimmy is using the extra training time in Lake Placid to train, and work to get a higher degree of difficulty on his top air by switching from a back lay to a back full. But with rain in Lake Placid the last few days, the conditions could be tough for the rest of the week.
Although the Olympics are no longer in the picture for the Discoe brothers this winter, there is plenty to ski for. The overall winner of the NorAm tour earns a World Cup start at the end of the season.
“It’s always weird to drop down from World Cup to NorAms,” Jimmy said. It’s almost like the weight’s off your shoulders, but it’s a big event. NorAms aren’t anything to joke about. You gotta focus there and ski well to regain your World Cup starts.”