Bahrke Second As Schmitt Sweeps With Moguls Win In Japan
Ten weeks ago, Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City didn’t know if she’d be skiing this season, or if she’d be alive.
But Bahrke, who skied to the best result of her young World Cup career a year ago in Madarao, Japan, when she was second in dual moguls, responded to the cheering thousands again Sunday and was second again – this time in singles.
“It was awesome,” Bahrke said. “My first run was good, but I didn’t think it was good enough to get me into finals; the judges were really hard. I was seventh or eighth, though, and when finals came along i gave it everything.”
Clicking with a helicopter off her first jump and a twister spread off the bottom air, Bahrke finished with 24.49 points; she was a disappointed tied-for-ninth Saturday in duals. Germany’s Sandra Schmitt swept both ends of the moguls weekend, taking the duals Saturday and earning 25.25 Sunday for her third win of the season.
Defending World Cup moguls champion Ann Battelle of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was sixth – and continues to lead the World Cup points after five contests – with Justine Van Houte of Telluride, Colo., ninth.
Sami Mustonen – Olympic bronze medalist in 1998 and again last season at the ’99 World Championships – earned the first win of his career.
He had 25.80 points with Canadian newcomer Jay Vaughn second at 25.48. The top American man was Alex Wilson of Buffalo, N.Y., in sixth; Ryan Riley
of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was 10th; and Evan Dybvig of Tunbridge, Vt., 11th.
“The conditions were really good. The course was totally rippable,” Bahrke said. “Last year [in Madarao] was great, but I had some frustrations (Saturday), so today it was like ‘Oh, my gosh. What am I gonna do?’ I didn’t want to be ninth again. But this crowd really gets you. They’re crazy; they love it!”
During the fall, Bahrke was felled by a staph infection and was on antibiotics for a month and a half. She lost weight but successfully battled through the ailment; doctors were unable to identify how she got it – “maybe it was when I was traveling cross-country,” she said- but they came up with the right solution to her problem.
“It was pretty scary. I had flu symptoms, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to ski. There were a lot of ‘didn’t knows’ because I was on antibiotics 24 hours a day for six weeks. I lost a lot of weight, lost some strength … yeah, it was scary.”
But slowly Bahrke has regained her strength and her skiing. She was fifth Jan. 8 in the Gateway Millennium Freestyle Challenge at Deer Valley;
on Jan. 22 she was ninth before her hometown fans at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National at Heavenly … and Sunday she sparkled.
“We’re all just so thankful Shannon’s back,” U.S. moguls Head Coach Don St. Pierre said, “and then to see her skiing so well is a bonus. That was life-threatening; she was very sick. Shannon’s such a warrior; she doesn’t back down and it’s always good to see that ethic, that attitude be rewarded.”
Wilson, who survived a “monster air” – going farther than he expected but landing it, anyway, when conditions changed and the course got faster than expected, echoed his teammate in praising the moguls-happy crowd which St. Pierre estimated at perhaps 4,000.
“I was a little lucky to be able to ski away. I went pretty large – another five or six feet [beyond his expected landing point], well, at least three of four – and that can be dangerous,” Wilson said. “A lot of people messed up, but this crowd was great. It gets to you.”
St. Pierre and Coach Liz McIntyre were happy with a half-dozen skiers in finals, but – except for Bahrke – said they were disappointed no one did better. “We’re consistently putting ’em into finals,” McIntyre said, “but we’ve got to ‘close the deal.’ It was great, though to see Shannon put one down; she has such a great attitude.”
Lauri Lassila of Finland, silver medalist at the ’99 Worlds, was taken off the mountain strapped to a board with his neck in a brace after he
crashed in finals; there was no immediate word on his condition. His accident caused about a half-hour delay in the contest, during which time
conditions changed quite a bit, according to St. Pierre, and Riley was the next skier down the run. “What a pressure cooker for anyone to be in;
I’m sure it’ll payoff for Ryan down the road but I don’t think he sees it that way right now,” St. Pierre said.
The bumps skiers have the week off before the schedule resumes Saturday with another moguls event in Inawashiro, and then it’s back to the USA for the inaugural Goodwill Games Feb. 16-20 in Lake Placid with daily and nightly television coverage on TNT.
FREESTYLE WORLD CUP MOGULS
Madarao, JPN – Jan. 30
(12 make finals)
1. Sandra Schmitt, Germany, 25.25 points
2. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif., 24.49
3. Aiko Uemura, Japan, 24.34
4. Marja Elfman, Sweden, 24.29
5. Margarita Marbler, Austria, 23.91
6. Ann Battelle, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 23.29
7. Tami Bradley, Canada, 23.12
8. Minna Karhu, Finland, 23.08
9. Justine Van Houte, Telluride, Colo., 22.96
10. Sara Kjellin, Sweden, 22.13
11. Kari Traa, Norway, 22.13
12. Corinne Bodmer, Switzerland, 17.78
1. Sami Mustonen, Finland, 25.80
2. Jay Vaughn, Canada, 25.48
3. Janne Lahtela, Finland, 24.50
4. Adrian Costa, Australia, 23.77
5. Scott Bellavance, Canada, 23.41
6. Alex Wilson, Buffalo, N.Y., 23.06
7. Jean-Luc Brassard, Canada, 22.01
8. Mikko Ronkainen, Finland, 20.84
9. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, Canada, 20.82
10. Ryan Riley, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 17.31
11. Evan Dybvig, Tunbridge, Vt., 7.89
12.Lauri Lassila, Finland, 0.78
World Cup points (Best 4 of 5 results)
1. Battelle, 372
2. Elfman, 360 (ahead on tiebreaker)
3. Uemura, 360
4. Kari Traa, Norway, 352
5. Schmitt, 340
6. Bradley, 328
7. Tae Satoya, Japan, 300
8. Karhu, 280
9. Bahrke, 252
10. Corinne Bodmer, Switzerland, 248
13. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, NY, 212
21. Justine Van Houte, Telluride, CO, 132
23. Hannah Hardaway, Moultonborough, NH, 112
31. Shelley McGill, Winter Park, CO, 52
32. Michelle Roark, Golden, CO, 40
35. Shelly Robertson, USA, 20
1. Lahtela, 396
2. Mustonen, 360
3. Lassila, 332
4. Rousseau, 308
5. Ronkainen, 304 (ahead on tiebreaker)
6. Dybvig, 304
7. Brassard, 296
8. Wilson, 272
9. Stephane Rochon, Canada, 258
10. Luke Westerlund, Scarsdale, N.Y., 244
12. Ryan Riley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 208
15. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO, 164
18. Travis Ramos, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 124
23. Travis Cabral, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 104
24. Garth Hager, Bothell, WA, 96
40. Jeremy Bloom, Loveland, CO, 28
44. Chris Hernandez, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 20
45. Caleb Martin, Telluride, CO, 12
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