Moguls: 2 U.S. Silver, 1 Bronze
Defending World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom, rounding into form after missing most of the season due to his college football commitments, led the Americans with a silver medal Friday in singles and a gold in duals on Saturday.
Michelle Roark of Denver also earned a silver in women’s singles and Toby Dawson of Vail, Colo., earned bronze in the men’s singles.
Mikko Ronkainen of Finland — motivated by wanting to upset a potential U.S. medals sweep — laid down a sizzling final run that earned 28.09 points. Bloom, still dealing with an intense dislike for the Champion run after several years of disappointing results, finished with 27.33 and Dawson had 27.22. Olympic silver medalist Travis Mayer was bumped to fourth at 26.85.
“I still don’t like it, but nothing can change that,” Bloom said. “This just means so much more, to win the silver medal at Worlds after coming here as a skier for five years and just going through the disappointment every single year. And I’ve never once skied well here.”
The top three women from the qualifying run Wednesday finished in the same order in finals. Olympic and World Cup champion Kari Traa of Norway, who won moguls and duals two years ago at the world championships at Blackcomb, B.C. , had a run that’s the second highest-scoring in history (27.99) and would have had her second among the men.
Bahrke didn’t repeat her Olympic medal-winning performance, but she was buoyant about her performance after struggling in training and qualifying sixth.
“I was just excited because I was about up in tears at the start. I had horrible, horrible training (Thursday) and this morning. So, for me just standing in the gate, gathering it all together and putting down a run like that, I was really excited,” Bahrke said. “I got to the bottom fuzzy-side up and in fourth place. That was the best I could do today, so I’m very proud of myself.”
Bloom overcame a shattered ski Saturday and tore-up the bottom half of the course to win the dual moguls gold medal.
“I didn’t want another silver medal,” Bloom said after knocking off Japan’s Yugo Tsukita in the dual moguls final at cloudy Deer Valley Resort.
Bloom had been undecided about competing in duals after winning silver Friday in moguls but, given a now-or-never edict by moguls coach Don St. Pierre and technical Coach Liz McIntyre, he decided to compete. The defending World Cup moguls champ who had skied in just four events — three singles and the only duals on the early season schedule — coming into Worlds, landed a heli-X off his first air and nailed a double twister spread at the bottom for the gold medal.
“I stopped thinking about what course it was or where I was. It didn’t matter at that point,” Bloom said. “You can’t come to a world championships event and think ‘Oh, I’m skiing against someone easy’ – there’s no round like that. It kind of doesn’t matter who you’re skiing against. You just need to go as fast as you can. Pretty much it’s survival and I was able to survive.”
The broken ski was spotted as he got set for his Round of 16 run against Canadian Scott Bellevance. Fortunately, there was a course hold because Finn Janne Lahtela had wiped out the timing gear at finish line in a “yard sale” crash that scattered everything.
“I don’t know when [it snapped]. I hope I didn’t ski that whole first duel with it snapped in half. I really don’t know because usually when the tail snaps in half, you put a little wait on the back and there’s nothing there. You could see the wood, it was definitely in half.”
Bahrke ran into “King Kong Kari” in the semifinals, a duel between the Olympic champion and Olympic silver medalist, which was the highlight of the women’s day.
Traa won the run, 18-17, when Bahrke bobbled her second air. Still, she had a Texas-size smile and said she was pleased to have moved up to the podium behind Traa. The Norwegian star won duals and singles at the 2001 worlds, moguls Olympic gold at Deer Valley 51 weeks ago, and swept both golds this week.
“Every day you wake-up and it’s like ‘Man, this is what I get to do every day. And people come up to watch me ski.’ It was just a beautiful day today and the snow, I think everyone agrees, was so much better today. I wish the singles had been on this snow. It was so much fun, slush everywhere, really good spring skiing – and in January,” Bahrke said.
“I don’t think (the snow) deteriorated at all. I think everyone did a really good job keeping up the jumps; the jumps, I thought, were perfect and just going in and out was really good. It was so slushy and fast you could go direct and really do good. My skiing was the best I’ve skied in a few weeks, so I was really excited to be able to turn it on today and do well.”
After skiing side by side through the entire run, Bahrke got turned partway around going into her final jump, and it cost her.
“Because Kari goes so big and I thought, ‘Dang it, I have to go big, too’ and so she was going and I know that she goes over the last two moguls because that’s usually where Kari makes up all of her ground in duals.
“She just takes everyone into the bottom air and then out of the bottom air, and she smokes you. You could be going neck and neck, and in the bottom air she’ll waste you by four seconds and you wonder, ‘How did that happen?’ And I was not going to let that happen to me today.”
The World Cup resumes Friday in Steamboat Springs, Colo., with the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National. Aerials are Friday with, moguls Saturday.
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