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World Cup moguls: Bahrke finishes eighth in B.C.

U.S. Ski Team reports

CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, B.C. – For the second week in a row, judges gave the edge to Canadian Jennifer Heil as she took a narrow FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls win over the U.S. Ski Team’s Hannah Kearney on the Olympic course in Cypress Mountain on Saturday. Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City finished eighth.

Despite finishing second, Kearney retained the World Cup lead with her fifth podium in as many events this season.

Alexandre Bilodeau won the men’s event, making it five Canadian wins in six events at Cypress and setting the bar high for the home nation at next year’s 2010 Olympic Winter Games. American Patrick Deneen was fourth, missing the podium by three tenths.

Heil, who led qualifying, took the win by six tenths, 24.79 to 24.18 for Kearney. The Canadian took a narrow 13.4-13.2 margin on turns and a bigger 5.22-4.61 edge on airs, despite Kearney’s higher degree of difficulty on her bottom air. Kearney held the edge on time.

“I skied the best I could on that course,” said Kearney. “It was my best run down all week. So I’m happy.”

The World Cup leader opened with a back layout on the top, landing it clean but not winning the judges. “I skied it better than I did in training – maybe not my best ever, but solid.” Heil outscored Kearney on the top air.

On the bottom air, Kearney landed a spectacular heli mute grab. “I did it for the second time in competition and this time I actually grabbed it, so that was very satisfying. I’m glad I pushed myself and tried something new.” The judges liked it and gave the edge to Kearney, but even with a higher DD, it wasn’t enough.”It’s something that’s been on my mind the last couple years to try something new,” she said. “I worked on it a lot on the trampoline and on-snow in Chile.”

“Hannah did such an awesome job,” said Moguls Head Coach Scott Rawles. “It’s her fifth podium in five events and she laid down her best stuff. In the final, she had the fastest time, skied great and really stuck her mute grab for the first time in competition. She’s definitely really on the right track.”

The U.S. put five women into the finals.

Despite two straight wins, Heil is still 45 points behind Kearney in the World Cup standings at the halfway point in the season. Each has two wins, but Kearney has not yet been off the podium.

The Americans qualified five and punched three into the top 10, with Michael Morse recording his second seventh place of the season and David Babic, who was second at Deer Valley Resort a week ago in duals, taking 10th.

Everyone was upping the ante with some of the biggest DD’s of the night. Bryon Wilson and Sho Kashima of South Lake Tahoe threw two of the toughest tricks of the night. And while they didn’t land them clean, they served notice.

“I went early so I had to pull out something spectacular,” Kashima said. “So I threw a cork 720 at the top, landed that pretty well. And I went for the cork 1080 – a tough jump I don’t throw very much but I had to go for it. It’s good to know I can do it even though it didn’t end up as well as I wanted. But I now have something to build on in the next few weeks.”

Kashima’s 1080 put him into the snow hard on the bottom, but he was ready to try it again. “It hasn’t been thrown much – I don’t think this year at all. My teammate Bryon Wilson knows how to throw it, Bilodeau. But you haven’t seen it much lately. I want to push the airs and I figured if I landed it I would have a chance at the podium. But I over-rotated and went too big.”

Rawles noted that the guys, across the board, were ramping up their airs. “I think in the final, especially if you’re not qualified very high and you’re coming out of 10th or 11th place, you need to up the ante,” he said. “We’re not just going to be conservative and just ski for 10th place, we’re skiing for the podium and the win and I’m psyched about how my guys came out.”

Morse, as an example, did a cork 720 at top, landing it with a decent score.

There were good feelings about the Olympic course. While the tour swung through Cypress a year ago, weather forced a cancelation so it was the first real test.

“The course is great and they were receptive to athlete’s and coach’s concerns and it made for a great course for the competition,” Kearney said. “Canada is great about being open to suggestions and building a good course. We were nervous on the first day of training – it was very difficult and very different from Deer Valley – and it turned out well. And the cooling temperatures helped keep the snow in place.

Officials changed the bottom air and also pushed down the tops of moguls that reached up to three feet.

“Being here is awesome,” said Kashima. “Getting some experience hopefully for next year is great.”

UP NEXT: The moguls team is now off to Are, Sweden, for individual and duals competitions next weekend, then on to Norway before the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships in early March in Inawashiro, Japan.

Men

1. Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada, 25.65

2. Yugo Tsukita, Japan, 25.09

3. Guilbaut Colas, France, 24.78

4. Pat Deneen, Cle Elum, WA, 24.43

5. Pierre Ochs, France, 24.03

7. Michael Morse, Duxbury, MA, 23.03

10. David Babic, Washington, VT, 22.26

14. Sho Kashima, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 12.46

16. Bryon Wilson, Butte, MT, 10.82

Did not make finals

20. Landon Gardner, Missoula, MT, 20.09

Women

1. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 24.79

2. Hannah Kearney, Norwich, VT, 24.18

8. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA, 21.84

12. Kayla Snyderman, Winchester, MA, 21.15

15. Emiko Torito, Denver, 19.66

16. Michelle Roark, Denver, 19.26

Did not make finals

28. Shelly Robertson, Reno, NV, 11.74


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