Bahrke claims first national title
WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. – Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City collected her first national crown on the last sun-splashed day of the Chevy Truck U.S. Freestyle Championships at Waterville Valley Resort.
Bahrke narrowly edged another U.S. Ski Team athlete, Jillian Vogtli of Ellicotville, N. Y., in the last run, with Laurel Shanley of Squaw Valley defeating Jaclyn Paaso of Bethel, Maine, to get the final spot on the podium.
The 20-year-old was happy to avoid an early round setback on a course that didn’t set up well until the late duals.
“I thought the course got better and better each run,” Bahrke, who finished a short while before the men’s final run. “This morning it was very firm with a lot of ‘death cookies’ (small but firm snow chunks) on the landings, but every run it kept getting better.
“It softened up and got a little more direct (as the moguls were eaten away). The landings were a little rough, but other than that it was really good.”
Sierra’s Travis Cabral, the 1999 national men’s moguls singles champion, finished fifth in the men’s duals.
The South Shore’s other notable finish of the weekend was Chris Hernandez’s eighth-place showing in Friday’s singles.
Hannah Hardaway of Moultonborough, N.H., ignored growing back pains and Ryan Riley of Steamboat Springs, Colo., paid attention to what he’d been telling himself as each won the gold medal in Friday’s singles.
Riley wowed the judges with a helicopter off the bottom jump that included two spreads.
“The jump has to be pretty big because otherwise it looks cheesy – you can’t pull it off unless you’re pretty high,” Riley said. “I was trying to accomplish something special or learn a valuable lesson; I did both.”
His jump was special and the lesson learned, Riley said, “was how to put all the elements together in one run.” Sometimes he just skis “on instinct,” he said, and at other times he takes copious notes on multiple pieces of paper. He has learned to consolidate all the notes on one piece of paper “and to believe that paper … to believe myself.”
Riley finished with 28.55 points to overtake World Cup Finals champion Toby Dawson of Vail, Colo., 27.78; and Jeremy Bloom of Loveland Colo., was third with 27.68. Defending champion Evan Dybvig of Tunbridge, Vt., led the qualifying round but had problems with his second jump and finished fourth.
Hernandez scored 26.43 for eighth place.
Hardaway, who lives about an hour from Waterville, won the morning run which cut the field of 36 women to 16 for finals. Then she successfully defended her moguls crown from a year ago with a run that earned 26.02. Second place went to Donna Weinbrecht of Killington, Vt., the former Olympic, world and five-time World Cup champion, who scored 25.67, with Vogtli third at 25.35.
“My back’s starting to feel a little sore,” Hardaway said, referring to a compression she suffered during a World Cup event in Japan last month. “But the second run the snow was softer, more forgiving, so that helped.”
Weinbrecht, a seven-time U.S. champion who returned to World Cup skiing this season after two years away, was pleased with her silver medal.
“This was an emotional year. It’s nice to end on an up note,” she said.
On Sunday, Garth Hager of Bothell, Wash., warmed-up for a Hawaiian vacation by successfully defending his dual moguls title.
Hager edged unheralded Mike Friedberg of Boulder, Colo., in the final run to collect $3,400 first place money. The bronze medal went to Waterville Valley Academy product David Babic of Breckenridge, Colo., with Jesse Jenison of Tahoe City taking fourth.
“It was a nice day and I needed some redemption from singles day,” Hager said.
He finished a disappointing 12th in singles.
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