The Selection event is one of the top contests in the country, bringing together the cream of the country's mogul skiing crop to duke it out for only two U.S. Ski Team spots. During three days of cutthroat competition, Joe and Jimmy Discoe, Zak Watkins, Wade Parkinson, Page McCargo, Lindsey Cannon, and Lane Stoltzner represented Telluride.
"These are the seven kids who have really stuck with the team for the last five years," said Martin, who has been at the helm of the Freestyle team that entire time. "To have this many athletes qualify for this event shows the incredible talent of this team as a whole, and offers strong role models for our junior moguls skiers to look up to."
The first day of competition started with a bang, after an 18-inch storm dumped enough snow to create "hero" conditions on the fairly flat, 24-degree incline course. The soft, fast setting increased the competition among the field of 70 men and 60 women, who were all gunning for coveted spots on the U.S. Ski Team.
Joe Discoe started the contest with a huge qualification run, nailing his backflip mute grab and D-spins aerial maneuvers to take the overall top score after the first round. His second run put him in contention at fifth overall.
Meanwhile, brother Jimmy Discoe brought out his big guns in the qualifying round, throwing the new D-spins trick he learned in training over the summer, as well as a backflip ironcross that helped put him in fifth. Jimmy ended the day sitting pretty in sixth overall.
A solid, clean run put Watkins high in the rankings after day one, beating out more than half the field to finish 26th. A bobble on the bottom jump – following a high speed, well skied upper run – cost Parkinson a higher score and put him in 39th overall.
On the women's side, McCargo, Cannon and Stoltzner skied similarly clean runs, finishing 31, 33 and 36, respectively.
Said Martin of the Telluride ladies' contingent: "They honestly skied great, especially considering this is such a high pressure event. All three of them are scoring high with their turns, and as they gain more confidence in their jumps I think we'll see a lot more out of them."
Day two of the single mogul event found Jimmy and Joe as the sole Telluride skiers making the 16-man cut to the final round, with Jimmy finishing fourth overall and Joe coming in at 16th. On his next run, Jimmy went all out; unfortunately, during a sky-scraping backflip on the bottom air he lost a ski and finished 16th. Joe, meanwhile, skied what Martin described as his "best run of the weekend" to finish eighth.
The Discoe brothers also competed in the final event of the Ski Team qualifier, a single Dual Moguls contest. Two strong preliminary runs from the mogul-skiing duo put Joe at sixth and Jimmy in first overall; the two went on to the finals rounds, in which Jimmy won a total of four duals to finish second. Joe crashed on his top air in the second round, finishing in a tie for ninth.
"Winning those preliminary rounds really shows how close these skiers really are" to making it onto the U.S. Ski Team, Martin said. "Once you get to the top ten guys, it's just like picking a name out of a hat in terms of the strength of skiing being displayed."
For the entire team, the experience was as valuable as they come in the world of upper-level mogul competition.
"It's great for these skiers to see what the next level is all about," Martin said.
On tap for the TSSC's traveling freestyle squad are a smattering of regional Rocky Mountain Division events, the first scheduled for the first weekend in January at Aspen Mountain. The Discoes will continue working their way through the rankings on the North American Cup tour, traveling to upcoming races in Quebec, Ontario, Idaho, and Montana.
"There is certainly a long winter ahead," Martin said.