Troy Murphy of Bethel was the top American finisher at the FIS World Cup ski moguls Thursday night, placing a career-best fifth overall during the tour stop at Deer Valley, Utah.
The result came in the 21-year-old Murphy’s first-ever World Cup super final, as he continues his pursuit of a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. Murphy’s previous best showing was a 20th at the first World Cup event of his career almost two years ago.
“It was crazy,” Murphy said in a U.S. Ski Team press release. “This is actually my first World Cup final, and then to make the super final, it was amazing. I’m just really happy. I knew that I could do it, it was just whether I’d have the day or not. I’ve had pretty bad luck the last couple of years, but I always believed I could be here.”
Snow dominated the qualification runs for much of the day, then clearing skies brought swirling winds for the finals.
Among other Americans competing at Deer Valley, Greenville native Jeremy Cota finished 19th overall and sixth among Americans in the field, while Farmington’s David DiGravio placed 27th overall and eighth among Americans.
World Cup champion Mikael Kingsbury led a Canadian blitz of the top three places at Deer Valley, with teammates Alex Bilodeau and Marc-Antoine Gagnon completing the podium sweep at the 2002 Olympic Games venue.
Another World Cup men’s moguls competition is slated at Deer Valley for Saturday.
“I love skiing here,” said Murphy, a 2010 graduate of Gould Academy. “It’s definitely my favorite course. I’m super excited for Saturday. It’s going to be great. I definitely have much more confidence now.”
The U.S. men have three more chances to earn their two required FIS World Cup podiums for Olympic team qualification with events next week at Lake Placid, N.Y., on Wednesday and Val St. Come, Canada, on Jan. 19, following Saturday’s competition.
No American has earned a top-three World Cup finish yet this season, and if that remains the case, U.S. Olympic team selection will be based on the season-long World Cup point standings.
“Troy Murphy is an amazing story,” said Todd Schirman, US Skiing’s freestyle program director. “He has been starting here the last couple years and made the team last spring. It proves that he has what it takes, and he has World Cup experience behind him. That changes his life and gives him the opportunity to ski more World Cups past North America. That’s his first super final, and it really puts him in a new spot because he’s got a great air package, and this is really a turner’s course. He kept it tight and did a great job [Thursday] night.”