Deer Valley moguls: Bahrke, Roberts sweep for U.S.
PARK CITY, Utah — Hometown favorite and reigning moguls world champion Nate Roberts and Shannon Bahrke — who won Olympic silver on the same hill in 2002, led a three-podium World Cup performance by U.S. skiers Thursday at the Chevrolet Freestyle International started in steady snowfall at Deer Valley Resort.
Roberts won the men’s event with 26.03 points a short time after Bahrke won the women’s contest. David Babic was fourth, dropping down a place after a routine check of the computer scores showed an input error for Japan’s Osamu Ueno, who then edged Babic by 0.03. Sho Kashima was sixth with David Digravio 10th after a tiebreak with Jay Bowman-Kirigin, who was 11th.
Bahrke had 25.15 points, Olympic and World Cup champion Jennifer Heil of Canada was second and Hannah Kearney, the women’s world champion, took third place. Heather McPhie, in her third World Cup finished fourth with Michelle roark sixth and Shelly Robertson as the fifth U.S. woman in the top 10, finishing seventh in the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge moguls event.
“This is like a dream,” Roberts said, following his disappointment at not making the 2006 Olympic team. He conceded he was anxious before the start of the event. “I skied a great qualifying run [but] I was nervous, a little extra pressure [in finals], no doubt about it. Skiing in front of my hometown. I told myself ‘Win or lose here, you’re gonna crash or you’re gonna succeed, so put it on the line.’ And I got in the zone and it happened ...
“The top air was a nice back full [inverted flip] and the bottom air ... I really don’t remember. I was in the zone and I don’t remember the details,” he said. It’s the third World Cup victory of his career, including one dual moguls win plus his gold medal from the 2005 World Championships.
“It was just good to get back in that zone and compete. I wanted to do my best in front of my family and friends.”
He echoed the other podium skiers, noting the continual snowfall softened the Champion Run course, which had been extremely firm during training. "The snow helped," he said.
Bahrke, who shared a big embrace with her father at the finish area, is back atop the World Cup moguls points for the first time since her title in 2003; she was fifth in qualifying also had a nearly flawless second run for the win, the seventh of her career and her second in six days (since last Saturday in Mont Gabriel, Que.) after no wins since March 2003.
"I can't believe this season. It's been unbelievable ... yeah, it’s been an amazing week. This is unreal," she said. In 2003, she also was bronze medalist in dual moguls at the World Championships at Deer Valley.
She recognized the strong skiing from the four women ahead of her in the qualifying round — with Kearney qualifying second and McPhie third — and said she was determined "to ski like I know I can ski. ... I had a good run, so I’m stoked," Bahrke said.
The exhilaration stems from the injuries and frustrations she's had since winning the World Cup crown in 2003. In '04, Bahrke broke her jaw when she slammed down on a ski pole during a run; in '05, she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament in training before a World up event. Last season was the disappointing return even though she made her second Olympic Team.
"After my Olympic performance last year," she told a press conference, "I really thought about maybe retiring, and I decided to come out this time and see if it's still in my heart to be here." Two wins in two events in less than a week have helped convince her she's back on track.
Kearney, with her mother having arrived the night before from Vermont, said she had mixed emotions - pleased to be on the podium but disappointed in her two jumps. However, she also brightened and said, "One of my goals this year is to be more consistent. So, fifth last week, third now … and first next time. That's a good progression."
McPhie, who is coming back from a fractured back in June - the apparent result of continued poundings, was knocked off the podium when Heil laid down a strong final run. Still, she was highly pleased with her third World Cup showing.
“This is my second time in finals [top 16] and last week making sixth was I was really excited, and fourth is even better...and hopefully I can keep it rolling with the momentum and just keep going for it...
"I'm just so excited because I finally feel I deserve to be at this level and I so excited to be competing with them. It's just an honor to be out here," McPhie said, "and to have earned my stripes."
Head coach Scott Rawles praised the "attack from back" by Roberts and Bahrke. "They stepped up big," he said, "and kinda put the heat on the rest of the field, especially Nate throwing a 26 up on the board, all the skiers after him — the next eight skiers after him - having heard that score knew they really had to get something done here to step be up on the podium."
After aerials Thursday night, the Chevrolet Freestyle International continues Friday night with a second aerials contest and Saturday night with dual moguls.
NBC will televise coverage Sunday Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. ET and Sunday Jan. 28 at noon ET from the Deer Valley Resort events. Versus (formerly OLN) will provide two hours of coverage Sunday Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. ET and two hours on Sunday Jan. 28, also starting at 5 p.m. ET.
World Cup freestyle moguls results
PARK CITY, Utah — Results Thursday in a freestyle World Cup:
1. Nate Roberts, United States, 26.03 points
2. Gregoire Dufosse, France, 25.43.
3. Osamu Ueno, Japan, 24.96.
4. David Babic, United States, 24.93.
5. Pierre Ochs, France, 24.85.
6. Sho Kashima, United States, 24.67.
7. Warren Tanner, Canada, 24.50.
8. Guilbaut Colas, France, 24.45.
9. Dale Begg-Smith, Australia, 24.42.
10. David DiGravio, United States, 24.33.
1. Shannon Bahrke, United States, 25.15 points.
2. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 24.86.
3. Hannah Kearney, United States, 24.70.
4. Heather McPhie, United States, 24.55.
5. Sara Kjellin, Sweden, 24.29.
6. Michelle Roark, United States, 23.85.
7. Shelly Robertson, United States, 23.56.
8. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic, 23.46.
9. Margarita Marbler, Austria, 23.45.
10. Kristi Richards, Canada, 23.43.