DEER VALLEY — Hannah Kearney stood at the top of the Deer Valley mogul course, feeding off the energy of the crowd and considering what was possible if she did what she has done so many times on mountainsides around the world.
"I was standing on the top of the course and I heard, 'Heather McPhie is guaranteed a podium,'" said Kearney after leading the U.S. women in a sweep of the World Cup podium in mogul skiing Thursday night at Deer Valley. "'Eliza Outtrim is guaranteed a podium.' And I thought, 'OK, I'm the only one who can blow it now.' So that was pretty fun."
Kearney, the defending Olympic and overall World Cup champion, claimed the top spot for the second time this season with a total time of 25.54. McPhie was second with 23.85, and Outtrim was third with 23.47.
It is only the second time that the American women have swept the podium in a mogul World Cup. The last time they did it was in Calgary in 2010 in the last World Cup before the 2010 Olympic Games. That sweep was led by Kearney, followed by now-retired Shannon Bahrke. McPhie was third.
"That experience is unique," she said of the podium sweep. "So that's what makes it really special. Sweeping the podium on your home soil — amazing. I've known Eliza for 20 years, and I've been on the team with Heather for the last eight. I think we've all trained really hard together, so it was really cool."
All three of the women have had their struggles this season. Kearney was injured before the season even began when she fell during a training run and lacerated her liver, punctured her lung and broke two ribs. Outtrim struggled at the start of the season, but has finished third the last two World Cups.
And McPhie won the first two World Cups and then failed to even make finals the next two competitions.
"It's been a huge roller-coaster for me," said McPhie. "(Not making finals) was really tough for me. So it was great to get back on track and come home to this fantastic venue. The crowd really helps. We have so much support here."
About 3,000 people turned out to cheer for the mogul skiers, who will compete in dual moguls Saturday night at Deer Valley. Friday night the aerial skiers take center stage.
Outtrim said the depth on the team makes all of the athletes better.
"You're much better off being surrounded by really good skiers all the time," she said. "We all go to training camps together, and we're all pushing each other a lot. In the end, it makes us all better skiers."
In fact, before Thursday's competition, Kearney said they were working with the team's trainer, who said he'd like to see the four American women competing finish top four — in any order.
"(Sweeping) is a difficult thing to do with all the factors that go into winning an event or getting on the podium," Kearney said. "But here we have an extra number of skiers because it's home turf, and we're all comfortable here. ... There is no reason we shouldn't ski well here."
On the men's side, Canadian Mikael Kingsbury earned his 19th consecutive podium with a first-place finish. His total time was 25.78, while teammate and reigning Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau was second with 25.60. U.S. skier Patrick Deneen was third with 25.07 points.Comment on this story
"It's always, every race, sometimes I think about it, and say, 'OK, well, if (the streak) ends today, I’m happy with what I've done so far,'" Kingsbury said. "I just take it cool on top."
The 20-year-old has only been competing on the World Cup circuit for three years and has earned 14 golds and 26 podiums.
"If you had told me 20 World Cups ago, 'You are going to do 19 straight podiums,' I wouldn't have believed you. It's awesome."
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