At Long Last: Michelle Roark Wins U.S. Nationals Gold

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 28, 2009 12:03 am

 The 2009 U.S. Freestyle National Championships went off in hot-dog style at Squaw Valley yesterday with the moguls event, and Bryon Wilson (Butte, MT) and Michelle Roark (Denver, CO) claimed the titles. It was the first Nationals singles win for each, though Roark is no stranger to the team nor the podium.

“It’s an emotional win because I’ve been at this a long time and I have a lot of World Cup titles, but I’ve never won Nationals in singles. It was just very overwhelming and very exciting for me," Roark said in her bubbly way.

Another first for Roark: A back flip off the top air. The veteran bumper is known for her spot-on rotational jumps, which she’s been throwing since she was a teen. Roark landed the flip just fine, and skied a clean, tight run—the biggest factor that led her to the gold medal. She at first had tied with teammate and World Cup title holder Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT), who had higher speed points and a faster time. But Roark’s won the tiebreaker with her turns and air points.

While Kearney cheered for Roark, losing the tiebreaker made her hungry for a duals victory later this weekend. "I’m really happy for Michelle. She’s never won a moguls title before. I’m proud of her for skiing well," Kearney said. "But, I tied for first and lost. It gives me some fire for dual moguls. I don’t want to lose again and duals are a great way to get out your aggression, so I plan on bringing that forward."

Hometown heroine Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) happily grabbed the women’s bronze.

"It was better than I could have expected. Everyone was out here cheering and the sun was shining and my coach who died last year was watching over me, so it was amazing," Bahrke said.

On the men’s side, U.S. Ski Team athlete Wilson went all out.
"It feels like nothing you can imagine. This whole season was kind of slow. I came into this event and I really wanted it," Wilson said.

NFL and ski star Jeremy Bloom originally led the men after the semi-finals but crashed while trying to land an air in his finals run. Wilson, however, threw a spectacular double full off the top jump and a corked 720 off the bottom air to win the competition.
 "I always knew I could do it. Today was the day," Wilson said. "Hopefully I can do a repeat in duals."

2008 U.S. champion Michael Morse (Duxbury, MA) grabbed the silver medal and relative newcomer teammate Joe Discoe (Ridgway, CO) took the bronze. (In our book, Joe won the best name award.