U.S. bumpers Torito, Babic finish third in Japan


Moguls veterans Emiko Torito and Dave Babic each finished third Saturday in a World Cup moguls contest on the 2009 FIS Freestyle World Championships run. Nate Roberts and Jillian Vogtli each finished fifth on a course with a "brutally steep" top section.
INAWASHIRO, Japan — Moguls veterans Emiko Torito and Dave Babic each finished third Saturday in a World Cup moguls contest on the 2009 FIS Freestyle World Championships run. Nate Roberts and Jillian Vogtli each finished fifth on a course with a "brutally steep" top section.
    World Cup leader Dale Begg-Smith of Australia won the men's contest with 23.03 points. Babic, in reaching his first podium of the season, tied for third at 22.28 with Guilbaut Colas of France. Roberts had 20.52.
    In the women's event, Japan's Aiko Uemura won with 22.59 points while Torito had 21.43. Vogtli's score was 19.91. Other U.S. women in finals included Shelly Robertson, who finished seventh, and Michelle Roark in 10th place.
    "It was a kind of survival day," head coach Jeff Wintersteen said. "This course has a brutally steep section at the top, and it's been really icy, so we had skiers all day just walking it down through the top section. The speed scores were really low and everything was low. When was the last time a men's contest was won with 23.03? Nate led the qualifying with a 21-and-change! That's incredible."
    Torito said she switched her line, her route down the course, before her final run "and that gave me something to focus on, which was nice." Her father is from Nagoya, Japan, but she had no relatives on hand for her podium.     "They've come out in other years, but today they were watching at home on TV," she said.
    In Lake Placid last month, Torito won the first World Cup of her career during the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup. "It was nice to have that win out of the way in Lake Placid, so I wasn't so stressed about doing well. I feel I'm on balance and I'm feeling comfortable on my skis," she explained.
    She did a 360-degree helicopter off the top air and a back-flip off the bottom jump. Torito won a NorAm moguls event Jan. 6 at Canada Olympic Park on the outskirts of Calgary and that helped her deal with the top section of Inawashiro's run. "It was a super-steep NorAm course, so I felt a little warmed up when we got here. I like the steeper courses. I guess I'm more of a survivor on that kind of course," she said.
    Roberts led qualifying "but then he missed his bottom air in finals, so he dropped back to fifth. Still, Nate showed some good skiing on a very tough course," Wintersteen said. "And Jillian skied the best of her season with her final run. She let things go and did well."
    The pre-Worlds visit ends Sunday with aerials.

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