When I asked Patrick Deneen about his goals for the Olympics he looked at me like I was mentally handicapped. “Um, winning the gold,” he said slowly, like he was talking to a kindergartner. Right. Stupid question. Deneen, whose nickname is “the Rocket” because his tendency toward scorching speeds has been taking over the World Cup moguls circuit. He won the championship last year and was rookie of the year in 2008. In Vancouver he’ll be a prime contender for the top of the podium.
Heading to the Olympics must be overwhelming. What are you most excited about?
It’s pretty crazy for the whole U.S. guys’ team because it’s all of our first time there. We’ve got a really young, but really good team. Honestly, I’m excited just to be there.
What does your training plan look like?
Training depends on the day. Some days I’m just working on turns, some days just jumps, so I’ll throw backflips all day. Other days we put it all together. Since I qualified early—on December 23rd at the Olympic trials in Steamboat Springs, Colorado—it gave me a chance to try some new tricks in front of the judges. At the last World Cup race I threw a cork 10. The judges didn’t like that much. I can do a backflip way cleaner.
We don’t often get to see moguls on TV. What should the armchair judges at home be looking for?
Seventy five percent of your score is based on skiing, not jumps. I don’t think people realize that. Judges want to see you ski smooth and fast, sometimes that’s hard to see on TV during the runs because of the camera angles they use.
Any big rivals, or anyone you’re looking to beat?
Everybody has been skiing so well lately and stepping up their game. It’s such a small community that people are pretty cool with each other. I wish I had an enemy it would make it more fun.
What other sports are you hoping to check out while you’re there? Pairs figure skating? Curling?
Definitely not curling. I want to watch the aerials. The U.S. men are looking really good this year. We train in Park City, at the same place as those guys. Our events are the first two days, so I’ll have some time after that to check out everything else.