Bahrke is back |

Bahrke is back

U.S. Ski Team reports

MONT GABRIEL, Que. ” Olympic moguls medalist and former World Cup champion Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City collected her first victory in nearly four years Saturday, winning by one-hundredth of a point and leading four U.S. women into the top 10 to open the World Cup in steady rain, fog and soft conditions.

Bahrke qualified fourth behind reigning Olympic and World Cup champion Jenn Heil of Canada, but she stuck a heli and backflip-cross, good for 24.60 points and the sixth win of her career. Swede Sara Kjellin was second at 24.59 and Margarita Marbler of Austria third.

“I’m so excited, I can’t believe it,” Bahrke said, even three hours after the competition. “All those injuries, all that bad stuff is behind me now. It’s been too long, so this is even sweeter.”

Since winning the 2003 World Cup title, Barhke had, among other things, broke her jaw when she slammed down on a ski pole in the middle of run in 2004 and then tore her right anterior cruciate ligament in 2005.

But on Saturday, Bahrke said everything felt right.

“Some days you feel like everything’s gonna be good, and that’s how I was (Saturday) morning,” she said. “It was so good to get back up there and get going.”

Despite the frustrating non-start to the season ” until Saturday ” Bahrke said she had drawn some inspiration from the U.S. Alpine Team’s historic run of success before Christmas when five skiers produced nine top-3s, including five victories, one of which came from Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley.

“I know and like so many people on the alpine team ” Steven (Nyman), Julia (Mancuso), Marco (Sullivan, from Squaw Valley) … and they give me so much inspiration. And it seems harder because they have so many athletes in their races. I feed off that, for sure,” Bahrke said.

U.S. coach Scott Rawles was fired up about Bahrke’s performance.

“The snow got soft because of all the rain and it’s been super warm up here. Shannon skied a good, clean run ” her jumps were clean, and you know she laid down a good run because she moved up from fourth,” Rawles said. “We’re psyched for her because she’s worked so hard all summer and finally has her health back. Combine those two things ” good training, good health ” and she’s back!”

Shelly Robertson of Reno was 10th with a score of 21.34.

The season – which was to have begun with two moguls events in snow-starved France before Christmas – continues Sunday with an aerials contest and then heads Deer Valley Resort in Park City, UT, for the Chevrolet Freestyle International.

On the men’s side, Sho Kashima of Zephyr Cove finished 12th (22.91) competing in his first World Cup.

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