Kearney, Discoe win national titles at Squaw Valley |

Kearney, Discoe win national titles at Squaw Valley

Steve Yingling
Sun News Service

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneFormer South Lake Tahoe resident Jay Panther rolls into a cork 720 during the U.S. Freestyle Championships on Friday at Squaw Valley.

SQUAW VALLEY and#8212; After winning the gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics last month, Hannah Kearney could have finished dead last at the U.S. Freestyle National Championships on Friday and still felt good about her season.

Kearney put a final stroke of brilliance on her 2009-10 season by winning the women’s national moguls championship for the first time in four years.

Kearney led a U.S. Ski Team stranglehold atop the final women’s standings with her winning score of 26.37. The Norwich, Vt., native came to the final event of her season relaxed and revived.

and#8220;(This is) spring break. I was a little bit burned out after the World Cup season. I was recharged and felt very motivated while being here,and#8221; Kearney said.

and#8220;It’s so nice coming to nationals to be reunited with the teams of your youth and skiing with everyone that you grew up skiing with.and#8221;

Eliza Outtrim of Steamboat Springs, Colo., finished second at 25.41 and Olympian Heather McPhie of Bozeman, Mont., was third at 25.02.

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Lake Tahoe-area members of the U.S. Ski Team also were in the title hunt as Shelly Robertson of Reno was just off the podium in fourth place (24.81) and Squaw Valley’s Laurel Shanley finished fifth (24.31).

South Lake Tahoe’s Hannah Curtzwiler, who was runner-up at the Junior Olympics earlier this month in New Hampshire, took 18th place out of 53 competitors and#8212; only two places from qualifying for the finals with her score of 20.26.

Judges were swept away by Disco fever in the men’s competition.

Joseph Discoe, a 23-year-old and#8220;Cand#8221; team member from Telluride, Colo., came out of the seventh qualifying spot to steal the national title with his final run of 25.51. Qualifying leader Jeremy Cota of Carrabassett Valley, Maine, finished a close second at 25.41, and Michael Morse of Duxbury, Mass., took home third at 25.30.

and#8220;I pushed the speed in the final run because everyone is out here giving their best, and you have to throw down everything you’ve got,and#8221; Discoe said.

Former South Lake Tahoe resident Jay Panther was a surprising third in qualifying with a 24.86 effort inspired by a rarely performed 1080 California roll. Panther couldn’t duplicate or better his qualifying run and finished 10th at 24.01, even though he was a second faster than his previous run on Red Dog run.

and#8220;It definitely was backseat and let it ride the whole way and was able to hold onto it, but to win you have to be fast and clean, and my turns weren’t quite there,and#8221; Panther said.

Olympic bronze medalist Bryon Wilson of Butte, Mont., tied for sixth at 24.77.

Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation member Marshall Curtzwiler placed 33rd with his career-best national score of 20.75 and Heavenly teammate Yamato Kashima came in 46th place (17.53).

and#8220;I was happy with how I did. I came out with stronger airs and faster time (than last year),and#8221; said the 16-year-old Curtzwiler. and#8220;Maybe Sunday I can step it up and make the finals.and#8221;

Jake Hickman of Heavenly was making a strong bid to qualify for the 16-skier finals, but had trouble on the bottom of his run and didn’t finish.

and#8220;Yamato had a good, solid run, and Jake Hickman had a smoker going, then he went around a control gate,and#8221; said Heavenly coach Jere Crawford.

Tahoe City’s Shannon Bahrke and South Lake Tahoe’s Sho Kashima were unable to compete due to injuries. They are the defending national dual champions.

The U.S. Freestyle Championships will continue through Sunday at Squaw Valley. Aerials and halfpipe competitions will be conducted on Saturday, and mogul skiers will return to Red Dog run on Sunday for duals.