Before taking part in the first World Cup freestyle event of the season at Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Clarence native Alex Wilson said he really wanted to compete at the X-Games in mid-January at Crested Butte, Colo. But he didn't even know how participants got picked.
That he didn't get chosen and freestyle poster boy Johnny Mosely did might have been the break of the year for Wilson.
Moseley, the Olympic mogul gold medalist, struck and broke a post -- which made his back one black-and-blue bruise -- as he finished second in the big air competition. The injury forced him to sit out two World Cup events, including the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National last weekend in California.
Wilson, who had mediocre results in the first two tour events, took advantage and recorded his first World Cup victory. It was accomplished in a heavy snowstorm at Heavenly.
"I grew up in the East (he skied at Holiday Valley) and skiing back there is always interesting," he said after the race. "We would get three feet of snow and then rain. Ever since I was little, I got used to enjoying whatever's there and not get caught whining about it."
The victory had several payoffs.
It moved Wilson, who will ski at a World Cup stop this weekend at Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia, from the B to the A team.
"It's great because it's the highest you can go in U.S. skiing," he said Thursday night by phone.
It gives him a financial bonus since only A team members get all of their expenses covered.
It made him a lock to be selected in February to the U.S. team for the World Championships in March in Switzerland. According to a U.S. Skiing Association spokesperson, winning a World Cup event is the first criteria for selection and he's the only U.S. skier to do so this year.
And it might have saved the USSA's bacon.
For the first time, the association bought time on network TV (NBC) to showcase freestyle events. It was hoping to cash in on the popularity of the injured Moseley, who had planned to skip all events, including the World Championships, not held in this country in order to promote the sport in the U.S.
"Alex has such great talent, we were all thrilled that he won," said Deborah Engen of USSA. "We were totally excited to have two U.S. athletes on the podium (Caleb Miller of Telluride, Colo., finished third). It makes for great television."
You can see that television today from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Channel 2.
The alpine World Championships will be held Monday through Feb. 14 at Vail and Beaver Creek, Colo., and NBC, ESPN and ESPN2 are planning 30 hours of live and taped coverage. ESPN opens its coverage Monday at 5 p.m. The cable channels will carry most of the weekday recaps, with Channel 2 picking up racing on the weekends. If the weather cooperates, NBC will show the men's downhill Feb. 6 and the women's downhill Feb. 7.
Roscoe is shorter, cheaper
The Art Roscoe Ski-a-thon for the benefit of the American Cancer Society will be held Feb. 13 at 10:30 a.m. at Allegany State Park.
Distances for the cross-country races will be 5 miles for the Citizens Race and 22 kilometers for more competitive skiers. The event has been a marathon in past years.
Registration for both events will be held at the Summit area, but if your application is postmarked no later than Jan. 31 you can save $5 on entry fees that have been reduced from last year: the lower rates are $15 for the longer event, $10 for the Citizens race. A family can race for $40 if it registers early; the cost is $50 the day of the race.
There will be an awards ceremony -- there are age groups from 19-under to 70-over -- and a reception with food will be held at 1 p.m. at the Red House Administration Building.
For more information, call Paul Ketzer at 941-5635.
A Ski Orienteering race will be held Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Letchworth State Park. Registration will be held at the Trail Side Lodge near the Route 19 entrance.
There will be a free clinic for beginners and courses for beginners and more advanced skiers. You must bring your own equipment for this Empire State Games qualifier.
For more information, call 581-2927.