Strong Showing for U.S. Team at FIS Mogul World Cup Season Opener

Posted By: The Ski Channel on December 13, 2011 12:04 am

The inaugural FIS Freestyle Mogul World Cup of the season was held this weekend in Ruka, Finland and, once again, United States star, Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) came out on top! The 25-year-old Olympic champion, who was undefeated in individual moguls last season, has now won eighth straight moguls contests.

Kearney easily took the gold medal in the new FIS mogul format, with a final round score of 24.70. Fellow American, Eliza Outtrim finished second with a total of 22.25 and the Czech Republic’s Nikola Sudova finished third at 21.70.

“I had the fastest time on every run, which wasn’t the case last year,” said Kearney, “I skied very little this summer because I wanted to spend as much time as possible working with Bergie (aerials coach and Olympic champion Eric Bergoust) – and a big thanks to him. I didn’t do Bergie too proud but I got the win.”

The contest marked the first time a scaled-back version of the new FIS Olympic format was used in competition. Instead of the previous format of one qualification run and then one final run, the top four finalists had a third ‘super final’ run, where their scores were rewound to zero, to determine who would earn the top spot.

U.S. moguls coach, Garth Hager, said the new format puts a greater emphasis on conditioning, explaining, “In the new format, it’s a pretty quick turnaround from the round of 16 to the round of four. You need to treat it like a duals final – you don’t get much rest.” Kearney echoed her coach’s sentiment stating, “There’s a little bit more of a physical component – conditioning helps. I now have no complaints.”

When asked if she was nervous about the format change, Kearney commented, “I didn’t exactly know what to expect from the new format, mainly because I had no concerns with the old format,” adding, “In the back of my mind, I was trying to save something for the finals. My second run was the worst of the day. I had to salvage my bottom jump and disguised it well and stayed in front.”                                                                                                                       Hannah Kearney
                                                                                                                                                                                     Photo by: Eric Schramm

It was a cold and windy day at the Ruka ski resort, but that didn’t stop the Americans from finishing strong. The entire United States team excelled, as Eliza Outtrim finished second behind Kearney and Sho Kashima (S. Lake Tahoe, CA) finished runnerup to Canada’s Michael Kingsbury for his first career podium. Additionally, six American women finished in the top twelve and four American men finished in the top ten.

Big opener for the U.S. Freestyle Ski team at the FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls opener in Ruka, Finland. On the podium were women’s winner Hannah Kearney, Sho Kashima and Eliza Outtrim. (Garth Hager)

“Having done well here last year (4th) it gave me confidence. I knew I liked the course and skied it well,” Outtrim said. When asked about the new format, she explained, “I came in unsure about it (new format) but what I like is when I made the top four superfinals you go into a feeling that you don’t have to hold anything back. I knew I was going to have to go in big and fast.”

Kashima said he was a bit surprised with his strong finish, but has high hopes for the remainder of the season. “I didn’t go to Zermatt camp and competing from the C team and the way I skied last year, the confidence wasn’t there,” Kashima said. “But starting off this season healthy and being able to train this summer full on – hopefully this will be a great season.”

The contest also marked a number of career bests for the United States women including, Heidi Kloser (Vail, CO) who finished 6th and K.C. Oakley (Piedmont, CA) who finished 11th. In her first European World Cup, Brittany Loweree (Point Lookout, NY) came in with an impressive 12th place finish, which also was also her career best.

For the men, Bradley Wilson (Butte, MT) had a successful debut in his first World Cup, finishing strong in 9th place.

World Cup action resumes on Dec. 20 in Meribel, France with a dual mogul event. In preparation, the U.S. team will train in Ruka for several days before heading to France. For more information about upcoming events and the entire U.S. Freestyle Team, visit http://usskiteam.com.

 

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