Olympic champions earn gold at Deer Valley's FIS Freestyle World Cup Saturday night
Rick Bowmer, AP
PARK CITY — Both American Hannah Kearney and Canadian Alex Bilodeau want to do what no mogul skier has done — win back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
The defending Olympic champions shared the top of the podium at the FIS Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley Saturday night in front of about 8,500 fans.
“You can see, hear and feel the crowd,” said Kearney, whose final score of 25.21 won her a second victory in two days of competition. “So I use it for practice. There’s a chance that this is a larger crowd than we will have at the Olympics. And there is certainly more people cheering for me than there are going to be at the Olympics, so I used it, and I tried to put on a show.”
The competition was a thriller with a number of the top skiers crashing before the final round.
“Today was unusual,” Kearney said. “There were some people missing from the super finals, even the finals ... so it had a different feel. But that’s a testament to how deep the field is that there is still that many good skiers coming down despite some of the strongest falling.”
Kearney’s victory was her sixth straight at Deer Valley, a course she’s repeatedly said she loves because of the long center section of tight moguls that really challenges a skier’s abilities.
“That felt really good,” she said of her finals performance. “That felt like a prettier run than my one two nights ago. I tried to find the balance of speed, but also control and it felt much cleaner.” Rather than another victory making her feel complacent, she said she’s hungrier than ever.
“This just gives me momentum,” she said, “and I want to go compete again right now.”
U.S. teammate Eliza Outtrim made the six-person super final, and she barely missed the podium as Yulia Galysheva (Kazakhstan) was second with 23.96 points, while Canada’s Maxime DuFour-Lapointe was third with 23.74 points.
DuFour-Lapointe’s finish was the best of her career. The 24-year-old’s two younger sisters have already qualified for the Canadian Olympic team, and this puts her in a really good position to join them when the team is named on Jan. 20.
“This is definitely helping me a lot in that direction,” she said. “It’s weird to say, but I’m not really feeling pressured. I’m just doing what I’ve trained for, and now it’s paying off.”
DuFour-Lapointe said being part of such a deep team is an honor.
“I’m so proud of being part of Team Canada — just because it's hard,” she said. “You need to be on top of your game and keep pushing yourself, and that is what is great about our team. We all want to be great. And we always keep pushing our limits.”
Bilodeau, who was the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on Canadian soil in the Vancouver games four years ago, won Saturday with 24.62 points. He edged his younger teammate and World Cup leader, Mikael Kingsbury, who scored 24.55, while Russia’s Alexandr Smyshlyaev scored 23.80 points to earn bronze.
“It wasn’t my best run,” Bilodeau of his victory. “I would have wished for my best run. But everybody had a little trouble. It’s a very hard course; it’s amazing at the same time.”
Bilodeau said he plans to retire after this season.
“After Vancouver, I thought about it, but I was like, ‘I’m still young,’ and I wanted to try to win two gold medals,” he said. “I’ve done everything in my power to be ready for these Olympics. And after that we’ll have other goals in life. But it’s been an amazing journey.”
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