Home sweet home for Hannah Kearney
January 10, 2014
Five out of the six podium spots at Thursday night’s World Cup moguls competition at Deer Valley went to skiers from our neighbors to the north.
But, amid all the maple leaf symbols and ‘O Canada’ singers, American Hannah Kearney managed to make her way to the top of the women’s podium, the lone U.S. representative at the awards ceremony.
Making her 100th career World Cup start, Kearney earned her 57th podium finish and 38th gold medal.
After a second-place finish in Calgary last week, Kearney said she came into Thursday night’s competition with a more aggressive mindset.
"It feels really good to be rewarded by the judges for pushing myself," she said. "I felt a little bit out of control, but they didn’t punish me too much and that’s a nice thing."
With a scoring system that factors in how skiers handle the mogul turns, how fast they complete the course and how stylish and clean their two jumps are, Kearney finished with a score of 24.83. Canadian Chloe Dufour-Lapointe finished second with a score of 23.45 and her sister, Justine Dufour-Lapointe, took third place with a score of 23.33.
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By winning the gold medal, Kearney now leads the World Cup moguls standings all by herself. Entering Thursday night, she was tied with Justine Dufour-Lapointe with 180 points apiece.
After her performance in Calgary, Kearney said it’s good to be back on top.
"A lot of people asked, ‘Oh, are you holding back?’" she said. "And I was like, ‘Well, no, I didn’t mean to be holding back.’ But maybe I was. So I wanted to push myself [on Thursday] and I went way bigger off my top jump and it shaved a second and a half to two seconds off my time."
Kearney’s teammate, Heather McPhie, who lives and trains in Park City, finished just off the podium in fourth place. Her final score of 23.30 was just .03 points away from Chloe Dufour-Lapointe.
"It’s my best result of the season," McPhie said. "I’m right on track with what I’m working on. I just have to keep believing. It’s going to happen, I just have to get a little faster."
But, on her home course, McPhie is confident that Saturday’s mogul competition could be the turning point that leads her to an Olympic spot.
"I’m so psyched to get to compete here twice," she said. "I absolutely love this course."
Kearney agreed that the Deer Valley course is one of the best stops on the World Cup tour.
"I love it," she said. "Once you’ve figured out this course, it makes the second competition less stressful. You sort of feel more confident already."
For the 2010 Olympic gold medalist, building confidence leading up to the 2014 Sochi Games will only make her more difficult to beat.
"I just started getting Olympic fever," she said. "It’s catching on now. Now I can start thinking about it and preparing."
On the men’s side, neither American that qualified for the finals made it through their last run unscathed. While Troy Murphy managed to finish his run, both he and Patrick Deneen struggled, finishing fifth and sixth overall.
That left the door open for three Canadians to cruise to podium spots. Mikael Kingsbury, the top mogulist in the world this year, took first place with a score of 26.39. Alex Bilodeau finished second with a score of 25.29 and Marc-Antoine Gagnon turned in a score of 24.85 to take bronze.
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