KILLINGTON, Vermont ??вЂќ Vermonters David Babic (Washington, VT) and Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) returned home Friday and won the moguls gold medals at the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships.
Kearney, the reigning moguls world champion, led the qualifying and won her second U.S. title with 26.85 points. Heather McPhie (Bozeman, MT) took the silver medal with 26.05 and Olympian Michelle Roark (Denver) was the bronze medalist at 25.53.
In the men’s contest at Killington Resort, Babic qualified fourth but took his first U.S. gold medal with 26.69 points and Travis Cabral (South Lake Tahoe, CA) was the silver medalist with 26.36. Jay Bowman-Kirigan (Salt Lake City) finished third at 25.87.
“It was really nice. It was very satisfying,” said Kearney, the 2003 U.S. moguls champion. She failed to qualify for finals, i.e., top 20, at the Olympics but rebounded with two podium finishes in World Cup events after the Torino Winter Games. “It’s been a frustrating year but this was nice.
“The snow in the morning was slick and firm; Killington’s done a good job. In the afternoon, it was softer.” She clicked with her standard heli-X off the top jump and backflip-X off the bottom jump.
She was anxious before the final run, Kearney conceded, noting her mother and a gang of friends from the Norwich and Hanover, N.H., area – just an hour or so to the East – plus Waterville Valley, N.H., where she was coached by Nick Preston and has coached for him during summers. “I definitely wanted to win,” she said.
Babic, also frustrated about the Olympics – but because he didn’t make the squad for Torino – said he changed the lane of his run Thursday and it allowed him “to go at least 10 feet higher and carry more speed out of the jump. I think that was a big key.”
He said seeing Kearney win gave him an extra boost. “Hannah won in Airolo [Italy – March 7, 2004] when I won my first World Cup, so it gave me a little boost when she won today. My first run was clean but I needed to do more in finals.”
It took him “a couple of weeks” after missing the Olympic Team to get back into a competitive mindset, Babic said. “I skied the World Cup the next week [Madonna di Campiglio, Italy] and my head just wasn’t there [he was 38th], so I told myself I had to get over it; I’ve still got a lot to do. My career didn’t end when I didn’t make the Olympics.”
The men’s field was thinned out with the retirements of two-time World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO) and 2002 Olympic silver medalist Travis Mayer (Steamboat Springs, CO) plus injuries which have slowed a couple of other skiers. Olympic medalist Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) will be at Killington during the weekend, but has not competed since the Olympics.
The Sprint U.S. championships continue Saturday at Killington with aerials and conclude Sunday with dual moguls. Both Babic and Kearney said they expected to compete in duals.
2006 SPRINT U.S. FREESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Killington, VT – March 24, 2006
1. David Babic, Washington, Vt., 26.69 points
2. Travis Cabral, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., 26.36
3. Jay Bowman-Kirigin, Salt Lake City, 25.87
4. Tim Preston, Campton, N.H., 25.30
5. Patrick Deneen, Cle Elum, Wash., 24.99
6. Landon Gardner, Park City, Utah, 24.88
7. Sho Kashima, Stateline, Nev., 24.43
8. Jordan Basile, Carnelian Bay, Calif., 24.42
9. Jimmy Roberts, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., 24.41
10. Joseph Discoe, Rudgway, Colo., 24.34
1. Hannah Kearney, Norwich, Vt., 26.85
2. Heather McPhie, Bozeman, Mont., 26.05
3. Michelle Roark, Denver, 25.53
4. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif., 25.05
5. McKenzy Golding, Reno, Nev., 24.91
6. Shelly Robertson, Reno, Nev., 24.59
7. Eliza Outtrim, Hamden, Conn., 24.48
8. Emiko Torito, Denver, 24.18
9. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y., 24.03
10. Kayla Snyderman, Winchester, Mass., 23.89
For complete results: