Kashima, Bahrke seventh in Calgary World Cup
CALGARY, Alberta – The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team’s women’s moguls squad continued its scorching start to the 2010 season with four top-10 results in Calgary on Friday night, showing little signs of cooling off in a month-long break from the FIS World Cup circuit.
Heather McPhie of Park City, Utah, was fourth, Emiko Torito of Denver followed in fifth, 2002 Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City was seventh, and Shelly Robertson of Reno finished eighth in an event won by Canada’s own Jennifer Heil.
“McPhie skied great,” said U.S. Ski Freestyle Team head coach Jeff Wintersteen. “She’s had a couple fourths before, but in the Olympic year it’s really good for her to get that result.”
Outdone only slightly, the U.S. men were able to sneak three into the top 10 with Michael Morse of Duxbury, Mass., taking sixth, Sho Kashima of South Lake Tahoe seventh with the same score (22.78), and David Babic of Washington, Vt., iin 10th.
Canadian native and defending Olympic champion Dale Begg-Smith, now skiing for Australia, took the win.
For Torito, it was the second top-five finish this year, putting her on top of the hunt for an Olympic spot now behind Hannah Kearney of Norwich, Vt.. McPhie has a fourth and a sixth-place to her credit this season.
“Emiko also got another top five, which we’re really excited about,” Wintersteen said. “She skied fantastic coming from 16th. It was a rough set, but she was great in the finals. Had she been a little closer in the semifinals we probably could have gotten a podium.”
It was a tough day on a tough course for some of the top U.S. men. Patrick Deneen of Cle Elum, Wash., Bryon Wilson of Park City, Utah., and Nate Roberts of Park City all missed finals.
“We’re a little disappointed in the semis, obviously,” Wintersteen said. “Nate, Patrick and Wilson had some problems, so that was hard. The course was just tricky. It was flat up top, then drops 30 degrees into the bottom air.”
Kearney qualified fifth among women but was unable to summon the same form she had in her win in Finland almost a month ago. The defending World Cup champion took 11th when she bobbled her bottom air in the finals.
The U.S. Olympic Trials winner trails only Canada’s Heil and Kristi Richards in the World Cup standings after three events. Heil, a Spruce Grove, Alberta, native was nearly perfect, earning her 22nd career World Cup title. Heil, the 2006 Olympic champion, finished with 23.95 points at Canada Olympic Park.
Heil already has qualified for the Vancouver Games, but that didn’t stop her from attacking the difficult COP course known for its tricky moguls. Performing in front of her parents and sister provided some extra incentive.
“I was so excited to be out here in my home province, with all my friends and family here,” Heil said. “The site’s beautiful. It’s such an honor to be able to showcase the sport to Albertans.”
Four events remain for the skiers before the Olympic Team is named January 26 including one more in Calgary on Saturday night, two at Deer Valley Resort in Park City next week and a final event in Lake Placid, N.Y., just prior to Team selection.
2010 FIS FREESTYLE WORLD CUP
At Calgary, Alberta
1. Dale Begg-Smith, Austria, 23.73
2. Vincent Marquis, Canada, 23.38
3. Alexandr Smyshlyaev, Russia, 23.27
4. Guilbaut Colas, France, 23.22
5. Jesper Bjoernlund, Sweden
6. Michael Morse, Duxbury, Mass., 22.78
7. Sho Kashima, South Lake Tahoe, 22.78
10. David Babic, Washington, Vt., 21.92
33. Bryon Wilson, Butte, Mont., 16.58
46. Nate Roberts, Park City, Utah, 8.18
50. Patrick Deneen, Cle Elum, Wash., 6.30
1. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 23.95
2. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic, 23.39
3. Margarita Marbler, Austria, 23.16
4. Heather McPhie, Park City, Utah, 23.03
5. Emiko Torito, Denver, 22.83
7. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, 22.49
8. Shelly Robertson, Reno, 22.28
11. Hannah Kearney, Norwich, Vt., 21.82
18. Eliza Outtrim, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 19.45
RNS – Michelle Roark, Denver