Inawashiro moguls: Roberts wins, 3 U.S. on podium
INAWASHIRO, Japan — Defending moguls world champion Nate Roberts and Jay Bowman-Kirigin went 1-2 Saturday — Roberts winning by just three-hundredths of a point — in the season's fourth moguls World Cup. Michelle Roark earned her first podium of the season, finishing second in the women's event behind Jennifer Heil of Canada.
Roberts, who also won a month ago at Utah's Deer Valley Resort during the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge, led the qualifying round and received 25.78 for his run in finals in slushy conditions. It's the third World Cup victory of his career.
Bowman-Kirigin collected the first World Cup podium of his young career with 25.75, clicking with a upright 720 (double heli) off the treacherous top jump and an off-axis, cork 720 double rotation with a iron cross at the bottom.
"I was just trying to focus on my skiing and not think about the competition," Bowman-Kirigin said. "I wanted to be smooth with my turns and patient with my jumps."
The sharp drop from the steep top jump, he said, "is why no one threw super-high degree of difficulty tricks. It's so steep when you go into that top air ..."
World Cup leader, defending champion and Olympic champ Heil of Canada won the women's event with 26.42 points with Roark second at 24.37. Shelly Robertson was seventh with Shannon Bahrke 14th, Jillian Vogtli 15th and Heather McPhie 16th.
"We had rain the first day here, then it snowed a ton on the second day, the third day was really slick snow and today it was slushy. So, it was difficult, but the good thing was the course got better every day," Roark said. "But I landed my 720 in finals, and that was fun. It was a fun day."
U.S. head coach Jeff Wintersteen said the tough conditions penalized a lot of skiers. "There were a lot of mistakes out there by all the skiers because of the slushy going. You had to use your head. It's a tough course, anyway, in good conditions, so this was a challenge.
"Nate won qualis and then skied his run like we know he can. He'd seen everyone ski when he went [last among the finalists], so he knew what he had to do ... and he did it," Wintersteen said.
The annual World Cup continues Sunday with a dual moguls event before the tour returns to North America for three events Feb. 23-25 at Apex Ski Area in Penticton, British Columbia.
FREESTYLE WORLD CUP
Inawashiro, Japan - Feb. 17, 2007
(16 make finals)
1. Nate Roberts, Park City, Utah, 25.78
2. Jay Bowman-Kirigin, Salt Lake City, 25.75
3. Yugo Tsukita, Japan, 25.14
4. Dale Begg-Smith, Australia, 24.48
5. Maxime Gingras, Canada, 24.33
7. Dave Babic, Washington, Vt., 23.81
12. Sho Kashima, Zephyr Cove, Nev., 17.93
19. David Digravio, Farmington, Maine
1. Jenn Heil, Canada, 26.42
2. Michelle Roark, Winter Park, Colo., 24.37
3. Stephanie St. Pierre, Canada, 24.10
4. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic, 23.93
5. Miki Ito, Japan, 23.68
7. Shelly Robertson, Reno, Nev., 23.58
14. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif., 21.64
15. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y., 21.26
16. Heather McPhie, Bozeman, Mont., 17.95
18. McKenzy Golding, Reno, Nev.
Click here for complete results.