Coming back and being able to prove I was just as strong as ever was a really nice mental victory. —Skier Hannah Kearney

PARK CITY — Hannah Kearney's victory in Lake Placid meant more than just another trophy.

"That was an excellent return for me," the mogul skier said of her first World Cup victory after suffering broken ribs, a punctured lung and lacerated liver while training in Switzerland in October. "For me it was a mental victory."

Kearney, the 2010 Olympic champion in mogul skiing, was enjoying one of the most dominant runs in sports with 16 straight World Cup victories when she was injured. She said it was difficult not to worry as she recovered that she might be losing a step to her teammates and competitors.

"I spent five days on bed rest in the hospital in Switzerland," she said. "Once I was released, it was about two weeks of exclusively walking, and from there, I spoke to (our trainer) at the end of each week and we kind of adjusted my program."

She spent a lot of time on "stationary machines" building her cardio base and then moved on to weight lifting. She felt better before she was cleared to train like she wanted.

"I wasn't able to ski until mid-December, and I wasn't cleared to jump until Jan. 1," Kearney said. It was a week later that she claimed her first victory in Lake Placid.

"Coming back and being able to prove I was just as strong as ever was a really nice mental victory," she said. "Now, no excuses. If I lose, it's not because I'm not strong."

Despite missing the first two World Cups, Kearney still hopes to defend her overall championship starting with this week's World Cup at Deer Valley. It's the 11th World Cup hosted by Deer Valley, which also hosted the 2002 Olympic Freestyle competition and two World Championships. This week's competitions, which begin Thursday night and end Saturday night, will feature 175 athletes from 24 countries.

In addition to Kearney, Heather McPhie, who won the first two World Cups of this season, will compete for the U.S.

"I absolutely love this stop on the tour," said McPhie, who earned her first World Cup win at Deer Valley. "We always have a great crowd out here, and it gives us so much energy."

On the men's side, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Bryon Wilson and his brother Brad will join 2009 world champion Jermey Cota in representing the U.S. in moguls.

Aerial skier Emily Cook, a three-time Olympian, hopes to follow up her podium in Lake Placid with a win on the course where she trains.

"I love it here," Cook said. "This is where I qualified for the Olympics, and I'm just really comfortable here and I love being here."

The finals for mogul competition begin Thursday at 7 p.m. with awards and fireworks afterward. On Friday, aerial skiers will compete beginning with qualifications in the afternoon and finals at 6:25 p.m.

Saturday, the dual moguls begin at 1 p.m., with finals at 6:30 p.m. Awards and fireworks will begin at 7:45 p.m. All events are free to the public.

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