Kashima podiums twice at Freestyles | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Kashima podiums twice at Freestyles

Sho Kashima had just three weeks to get ready for the biggest competition of the season, but he sure looked comfortable on his home mountain and the podium all weekend.

Kashima, of South Lake Tahoe and the Heavenly Freestyle Team, captured second in the dual moguls competition at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships on home turf Saturday. The win comes on the heels of his third-place finish in single moguls Friday. Not bad for a skier who jumped back into competitions three weeks ago, after his second knee surgery.

"Two podiums here at my home mountain is pretty incredible," Kashima said. "I didn't have a full season coming back from injury and this is proof that when I trust my skiing good things will happen."

Joe Discoe, of Telluride, Colo., was the only skier to edge Kashima in the head-to-head mogul throw down. Dylan Walczyk, of Breckenridge, Colo., rounded out the podium in third place.

In the women's duals, Sophia Schwartz, of Sun Valley, Idaho, won her first ever U.S. Championship title on the sunbaked Heavenly course. Mikaela Matthews, of Frisco, Colo., took second, and defending U.S. Champion K.C. Oakley, who is also a former Squaw Valley Freestyle Team member, settled for bronze after she lost control out of her top air and skied into Mathews' line.

For Discoe, the win marks his third career U.S. title. He threw a D-spin in his top air and a backflip on his bottom air.

"Pure strength was what got me through today. It wasn't very pretty skiing but I made it down just barely," Discoe said.

The large jumps and soft spring snow made for some big crashes and upsets throughout both days of competition.

"Yesterday, I had a pretty rough day and I couldn't figure out how to get down this course, so I'm just really happy today I was able to get it dialed in," Discoe said.

Shwartz, the women's winner, had it dialed in both days of competition. She narrowly missed the podium in the single moguls competition, coming in fourth.

"I've been to a few National Championships before and I've never podiumed so to have this win means a lot," Shwartz said.

Schwartz did a back full up top and a back lay in her bottom air.

Heather McPhie and Hannah Kearney, who won first and second in the women's single mogul competition Friday, did not compete in duals. Neither did the men's first and second-place single winners Bradley and Bryon Wilson.

Flying through Freestyles

Fifty feet above the crowd, skier silhouettes flashed against the stormy sky as the U.S. Freestyle Championships continued into the gathering darkness.

With a band playing and a rocking crowd on the hill, Emily Cook and Dylan Ferguson capped the championships with gold medals in aerials Saturday on Heavenly's World Cup. Kiley McKinnon and Alex Bowen took second, while Madie Gorelik and Jonathon Lillis walked away in third place.

Each jump counted. The aerial skiers were judged in a two-jump format, which combined the athletes' two jump scores.

For Cook, of Belmont, Mass., the win was her sixth U.S. aerials title. She landed a full double full on the first jump and a full full on the second.

"It's great to have this result at Heavenly where there is so much freestyle history," Cook said.

Ferguson, of Amesbury, Mass., took the title for the men, scoring a U.S. Champs three-peat. He landed a full double full full on his first jump and a double full full full on his second.

"Heavenly put on a great event here, and it's a great end to my season," Ferguson said. "It puts me in a strong mindset looking towards the Olympic season."

McKinnon and Gorelik, second and third in the women's competition, both earned their second national championships podium. Junior Olympics champion Alex Bowen stood on his first U.S. Championship podium with a second place finish.