In a few hours -- weather willing -- Patrick Deneen will come bouncing down a mountain just north of Vancouver on his way to what he hopes will be an Olympic gold medal.

On the outside, the reigning world moguls champion will be wearing official Team USA gear. But underneath, "I'll be Baltimore all the way," he says.


Deneen, you see, helps develop and wears gear from 180s, the Inner Habor-based company best known for those cool, duplicated-but-never-equalled ear warmers that wrap behind the head instead of over the top.

(As an aside, the company, with headquarters at the Inner Harbor, also makes a pair of "Tech Touch" gloves with little metal contacts in the index fingers that allow you to, yes, operate a touch screen device without exposing flesh.)

The Baltimore-Washington corridor doesn't grow many winter Olympians. We have Bel Air's Kimmie Meissner, a 2006 Olympian, and gold medalist Dorothy Hamill adopted us more than a decade ago.

So we have to find our connections where we can. Under Armour, Baltimore's other outdoor\athletic gear company, has suited up the U.S. bobsled team, skiing queen Lindsey Vonn and other freestyle skiing teams.

180s has Deneen.

"We're a small company. We're not an Under Armour, per se," says 180s marketing chief Brian Parker.

Perfect match. Deneen, like most freestylers, isn't a big guy.

But he turns heads.

The home-schooled wonder from Washington state was the 2008 World Cup rookie of the year, but a complete sleeper when he won the world title last year in Japan.

His father, Pat, runs a ski slope and coaches his son. His mom, Nancy, runs the video machine.

Patrick Deneen is a self-contained team, with a trampoline and personal ski jump at the family's 90-acre horse ranch.

Deneen says 180s was one of his first sponsors six years ago, something that helped him gain credibility.

Several times a year, he comes to Baltimore to inspect high-tech fabrics and clothing designs. He meets with the product design staff to give them little pep talks.

When you spend 200 days a year on the slopes, as Deneen does, your advice matters.


Deneen also is part of the 180s booth at trade shows and conventions, talking shop with buyers and giving out autographs. A recent event had a giveaway two-day ski vacation in Park City with Deneen.

Baker says at these Olympics, 180s will be conducting a "guerilla marketing campaign," giving out products at Cypress Mountain, the site of the moguls events.

And even though Deneen himself won't be a billboard for the company, rest assured that underneath he'll "be Baltimore all the way."