Char Valley grad optimistic for 2014 Winter Games
By Karen Price
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The 2013 slopestyle skiing competition season has been markedly different for Chartiers Valley graduate Tom Wallisch than last year.
In February 2012, Wallisch scored the highest marks in the history of slopestyle to win X Games gold in Aspen, Colo. He followed that with a silver at the Euro X Games in Tignes, France, and ended the year first in the Association of Freeskiing Professionals rankings and first in the Dew Tour rankings. He also was named ESPN's Action Sports Athlete of the Year.
This year, however, Wallisch partially tore the MCL in his knee two weeks prior to the X Games. He still competed but finished ninth and failed to qualify for the final to defend his gold.
Better this year than 2014.
Slopestyle skiing will make its Olympic debut in Sochi, Russia, a year from now. Wallisch, who moved to Utah in 2006, intends to be there as a member of Team USA.
“Whoever's skiing the best at the time will go, so it all comes down to what happens in December and January (2014),” said Wallisch, 25, a member of the U.S. Freeskiing team. “It will be exciting. I might not know until the end of January if I'm going, and it will only be two or three weeks away.”
Freeskiing has two major competitive disciplines — slopestyle and halfpipe. Slopestyle skiers (and snowboarders) perform tricks, including spins, grabs and flips off jumps and along rails and boxes placed along the course. The point is to have more variety, greater difficulty and bigger air than anyone, and Wallisch is not just good for a kid from Pittsburgh who learned his craft at Wisp Resort in Maryland.
Wallisch is among the best there is.
“One reason he does so well in contests is that he's got a really clean style where he just has very little body movement,” said U.S. freeskiing slopestyle team coach Skogen Sprang. “There's no flailing. He's just subtle and smooth on his skis. That and he's just really talented and has the whole bag of tricks. A lot of guys have some or most of the tricks, but he seems to be able to do every trick out there.”
Wallisch was recently in New York City courtesy of The North Face to mark the one-year countdown to Sochi. He appeared on a segment of the “Today” show and demonstrated a few tricks after talking to the hosts.
There have been issues with uncooperative weather in Sochi, however. A slopestyle competition that was to be an Olympic test event was canceled due to lack of snow. Sprang said he isn't concerned about the same thing happening next year.
“I'm confident they'll pull it off,” he said. “We're used to being flexible with the weather and things you can't control. We all know that one winter is never the same as the next.”
Wallisch said knowing that the 2014 Olympics are less than a year away is exciting and a nerve-wracking.
“It adds to the pressure,” Wallisch said. “But I'm definitely looking forward to it and the rest of this year and just doing a lot of skiing this summer to get everything dialed in.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- ‘Un-American’? That’s Harry Reid, the Senate’s lowly smear artist
- Starkey: Steelers know when to say goodbye
- Penguins GM Shero’s deadline deals: Addition by subtraction
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution
- Review: Swiss troupe’s performance sheds ‘Lux’ on choreographer’s artistry
- Lawmaker: Responders should carry drug that counteracts opiates
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Ukrainians steel to resist Russian aggression
- SUV flips onto its side on Parkway East