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Whiteface sweep

Vermont native captures two titles on familiar mountain

January 24, 2011
By LOU REUTER, Enterprise Sports Writer

WILMINGTON - When she isn't on the road competing, Olympic moguls champion Hannah Kearney spends a good deal of her training time on the slopes of Whiteface Mountain.

The 26-year-old United States freestyle skier also does a whole lot of winning on that same hill.

On Sunday, Kearney made it a weekend sweep at Whiteface, capturing her second moguls title as many days as the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup tour wrapped up its three-day stay in Lake Placid.

Article Photos

Hannah Kearney of Norwich, Vt. catches big air off the second jump during her winning run in Sunday’s Nature Valley Freestyle Cup moguls competition at Whiteface Mountain. Kearney also won Saturday’s event to make it three straight World Cup victories in contests at Whiteface.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

The victory was the third straight at Whiteface for the defending Olympic women's moguls champion, who went to Vancouver with a head of steam after skiing to the title in Lake Placid a year ago on the final World Cup tour stop just before those Olympics.

Not to be outdone, France's Guilbaut Colas pulled off the same feat of domination with a three-peat at Whiteface. He skied past the men's field on the mountain last January, and claimed two more World Cup golds with wins Saturday and Sunday.

With weekend sweeps, Kearney and Colas both held onto their yellow bibs and upped their leads in the World Cup points standings.

Competing not far from her hometown of Norwich, Vt., Kearney was able to ski to back-to-back wins in front of her parents Jill and Tom, and her best friend.

"It was exciting, but it was exhausting," Kearney said. "It's tough competing two days in a row, but it's worth it when you do well. After yesterday's competition, there wasn't much turnaround time to get ready for today. I didn't sleep well last night, and I was up at 5:30 this morning.

"The nice thing is that I feel comfortable here. It's close to home, and I was able to compete with my family watching," Kearney added. "It's great competing in Lake Placid. I'm used to the course, but I'd also like to think my skiing has been pretty special no matter where the competitions are. Days like this are when all the offseason training pays off. I was in the zone this weekend."

The wins were the third and fourth of the World Cup season for Kearney, who rebounded from a fall last week that resulted in a ninth-place finish in a doubles moguls contest at Mount Gabriel, Quebec.

Like the day before, two athletes from a deep Canadian team were in the medals with Kearney, as Chloe Dufour-Lapointe finished runner-up and Kristi Richards captured third. Another Canadian, Jennifer Heil, also had a strong weekend at Whiteface, adding a fourth-place finish Sunday to the silver medal she claimed Saturday. Ekaterina Stolyarova of Russia rounded out the top five.

The moguls competitions included two rounds, with the top 12 finishers from the opening run returning for the final. Two other Americans advanced in the women's competition, with Heather McPhie finishing sixth and Eliza Outtrim placing 11th.

The women's first round featured 38 skiers.

With his pair of wins, Colas has now reached the podium in each of the six moguls events featured on the World Cup tour so far. And what makes that more impressive, the French moguls specialist has been skiing with a pin in his foot after he suffered a fracture in December competing on home snow in Meribel, France.

Despite the pain, Colas said he enjoyed competing on what he described as a challenging course.

"It's my course," Colas said with a smile after Sunday's contest. "It's a difficult course. It's not easy and I like that. It was tough getting a good speed, but it worked out. My foot, it hurts, but still, it was a perfect weekend."

Canadians were right behind Colas, sweeping the next four positions, with Mikal Kingsbury and Alexandre-Rousseau reaching the podium with respective second- and third-place finishes. They were followed by teammates Marc-Antoine Gagnon in fourth and Cedric Rochon in fifth.

Four American mogulists reached the men's final on each day of competition. After earning a bronze medal Saturday, Jeremy Cota led the U.S. team again Sunday with a sixth-place finish. David Digravio notched his second top-10 result of the weekend, adding a seventh-place from Sunday to a fifth-place showing on Saturday. Bryon Wilson placed eighth on Sunday and 12th Saturday, and Patrick Deneen moved up one spot in the standings, improving from an 11th-place result Saturday to 10th on Sunday.

The World Cup Freestyle tour now moves to Calgary, Canada this weekend, followed by the freestyle World Championships in Deer Valley, Utah at the end of the month.



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