Sho Kashima overcomes midair collision to win national dual moguls title
SQUAW VALLEY ” Tahoe athletes from opposite ends of the lake delivered golden performances in an action-packed dual mogul finals on the last day of the U.S. Freestyle Championships Sunday.
After a third-place finish in Friday’s single moguls, Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City narrowly captured the women’s duals title over Emiko Torito (Denver) in front of a large contingent of hometown fans.
“This was so awesome to come home and have all my friends and family and everybody who has supported me my whole life here,” said Bahrke, surrounded by jovial supporters after the win. “And to get two podiums is the coolest thing ever. It really means a lot.”
Michelle Roark (Denver), who won the singles title Friday, rounded out the podium in third.
In the men’s competition, Sho Kashima of South Lake Tahoe blasted down the moguls course on Red Dog face while tossing high-flying, stylish tricks en route to the final, where he edged Landon Gardner (Missoula, Mont.) for the duals title. Bryon Wilson (Butte, Mont.) took third.
“It’s good to win duals again,” said Kashima, also the 2007 champion. “I can go into the offseason pretty happy about my skiing. And it’s so nice to be here on a nice day, and my family is here and girlfriend and friends, so it’s nice to get a chance to show them what I can do.”
Racing side-by-side in the second round, Kashima and Wade Parkinson put a scare into large turnout of spectators, and themselves, when they brushed up against each other midair on the final jump.
Parkinson, who was hit in the back by one of Kashima’s skis as the two reached peak height, landed in the back seat and crashed as Kashima stomped his landing and sped through the finish. The skiers exchanged bewildered looks after Parkinson popped back to his feet.
“It’s was the scariest thing. I’ve never hit anyone in the air,” Kashima said. “I thought my flip was going to stop at that point. So that was one of the scariest things ever.”
Kashima said he did not anticipate the contact, and didn’t fully understand what had just happened until after the run.
“I was upside down and my left ski just starts dragging, and I realized what had happened once I crossed the finish line,” he said. “I guess we’re lucky to have not gotten seriously hurt, because neither of us expected it. You don’t think you’re going to hit anyone in duals, especially in the air.”
Kashima pulled off a giant “loop” over the last jump of his final run. “I can’t believe I even threw it,” he said with a laugh.
Shelly Robertson, a former Squaw Valley Freestyle Team skier out of Reno, took sixth place in the women’s competition, while Squaw Valley Freestyle’s KC Oakley of Piedmont, Calif., was seventh and Squaw skier Laurel Shanley ninth.
Bahrke, a two-time Olympian and 2003 World Cup champion, said she felt extra motivation to perform well in honor of her former moguls coach.
“I won it for my coach, Clay (Beck), who passed away last year. So it really means a lot to me,” she said. “He’s the one who taught me how to ski moguls up here. And so that really meant a lot to have him with me and behind me the whole time. His whole family was here and cheering me on, so it was cool to stand on the podium for him.”
2009 SPRINT U.S. FREESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Squaw Valley
Sunday’s Dual Moguls
1. Sho Kashima, South Lake Tahoe
2. Landon Gardner, Missoula, Mont.
3. Bryon Wilson, Butte, Mont.
4. Jeremy Cota, Steamboat Springs, Colo,
5. Michael Morse, Duxbury, Mass.
6. Dave DiGravio, Farmington, Maine
7. Reed Snyderman, Winchester, Mass.
9. Wade Parkinson, Ridgway, Colo.
10. Michael Degrandis, Solon, Ohio
1. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City
2. Emiko Torito, Denver
3. Michelle Roark, Denver
4. Eliza Outtrim, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
5. Heather McPhie, Park City, Utah
6. Shelly Robertson, Reno
7. KC Oakley, Piedmont, Calif.
8. Lane Stoltzner, Telluride, Colo.
9. Laurel Shanley, Squaw Valley
10. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y.