PARK CITY — Alex Wilson is the embodiment of the Gold Cup.

At Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1998, Wilson — a C-team moguls members of the U.S. Ski Team — won the first major competition of his adult skiing career.

He didn't just take home a medal or money. Instead, the 24-year-old won a trip to the Nagano Winter Olympics.

The Gold Cups don't count in World Cup standings for skiers, as all of the competitors are Americans, but in addition to $10,000 in prize money, the winner wins an automatic spot on the U. S. Olympic Ski Team.

In Gold Cup competition Monday, freestylers will have their chance to bypass competition points and guarantee themselves a spot in the 2002 Winter Games.

It's a truly American concept — that anybody can win. In Wilson's case four years ago, anybody did.

"It was great," he said Friday at Park City. "For me, this (Gold Cup) is pretty similar to 1998. I was a C-team member at that time, and I'm a C-team member again. This time around, the team is a lot stronger. But I have everything to gain . . . All you have to do is lay down two good runs."

Wilson finished 10th in Nagano, the year that American Jonny Moseley won the Olympic moguls gold.

The moguls skiers will compete at Deer Valley at noon Monday. The aerialists follow at 7 p.m. in what is expected to be a crowd similar to the upcoming Olympics.

Gold Cup events are free. Correspondents from ABC will broadcast live from the aerials as part of a New Year's Eve Program.

The aerialists normally do not compete at night, but the U.S. skiers say it's actually easier to jump in the dark.

"I think we all prefer to jump at night," said U.S. Ski Team member Jerry Grossi. "The wind is a little calmer; it's easier to separate the ground from the sky. The only issue is lighting. It's actually a lot of fun."

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