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 came 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.
Trevor Semmens led the Squaw Valley Freestyle Team with an 18th-place finish, while Jake Hickman finished 20th and Riley McGuire-McCarthy was 39th.
In the women’s duals, Sophia Schwartz, of Sun Valley, Idaho, won her first ever U.S. Championship title on the sun-baked Heavenly course. Mikaela Matthews, of Frisco, Colo., took second, and defending U.S. Champion and former Squaw Valley skier K.C. Oakley settled for bronze after she lost control out of her top air and skied into Matthews’ line.
Several other Squaw Valley Freestyle Team members competed, including Julia Semmens (21st), Tamara Wescott (23rd), Lynne Hickman (25th), Emily Tewksbury (31st) and Bryn Anderson (36th).
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.
Heather McPhie and Hannah Kearney, who took 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 singles winners, Bradley and Bryon Wilson.
Cook, Ferguson crowned aerials champs
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.
— Sierra Sun sports editor Sylas Wright contributed to this report.