U.S Freestyle 1,2 and 3 at Finland World Cup!

Posted By: The Ski Channel on December 12, 2009 9:52 am

The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team has long had it going on, and this weekend in Suomu, Finland, the athletes proved they’ve still got major mojo. Former World Champion and Waterville Valley alum Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) won for the women, Bryon Wilson (Butte, MT) finished second for the second day in a row for the men and Nate Roberts (Park City, UT) came back after being plagued with injuries, taking the bronze. 

“I won the qualifying run again and just skied the same,” Kearney said of her smoke show. “I made no mistakes this time and I ended things in first place, which is very satisfying. I did a back layout on the top air, which helped me carry my speed into the middle section, then I did probably the best heli I’ve done the whole week off the bottom air.”

The rest of the U.S. women skied well, too. Emiko Torito just missed the podium in fourth, veteran Michelle Roark took fifth, Heather McPhie placed sixth and Eliza Outtrim rounded out the top ten in ninth.

Kearney has already met one of the Olympic-qualifying criteria–a top-three World Cup finish, twice. If we were to check the Olympic crystal ball, we’d say the laid-back Vermonter has a top shot at bringing the gold back from Vancouver.

(All women will have the chance to compete for an immediate berth on the Olympic team at the Gold Cup, in Steamboat, CO on Dec. 23. The winner will automatically win a spot, and won’t have to worry about meeting any other criteria.)

For the men, Wilson’s second silver in Finland was a big surprise, as the soft-spoken U.S. National Champion was only at the first World Cup to train. ”I didn’t even plan on skiing this weekend because I was an alternate. Unfortunately one of our guys got hurt and I got put in,” Wilson said. “So I’m really happy with two second places. It’s amazing. I just can’t believe it. It’s awesome.”

Roberts, too, is happy with his performance, and is set on making the Olympic team after not qualifying for the 2006 Games in Torino.  ”Right now, being on the podium has taken the pressure off before Christmas and worrying about the Olympic spots,” Roberts said. “It gives me confidence to know that if I ski the way I can and I’m capable of, I can hit the podium every week.”

Roberts, a Park City native spent most of his summer training at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team’s local Center of Excellence. Now, his hard work is not just paying off—it’s lighting him up. ”I came out this morning and had some fire,” added Roberts. “I qualified sixth, stuck to my game plan, put another run down and landed on the podium. I am just so grateful to have the opportunity to be in this spot again and really have my job back for the most part. It’s been a long year and a half, but all the hard work this summer has paid off and I’m just psyched to be back showcasing my skills.”

The U.S Freestyle Ski Team bumpers now have a week off from competition before the Olympic Trials in Steamboat.