Three Americans Reach Women's Moguls Finals

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Park City, Utah Feb. 9, 2002 (AP by Eddie Pells)--Four-time Olympian Ann Battelle led a field of three Americans into the finals of the women's moguls competition Saturday.

Battelle, the top-ranked World Cup moguler in 1999 and 2000, finished second in qualifying behind the woman who took that spot from her last year, Kari Traa of Norway.

In third was the American favorite, Hannah Hardaway, followed two spots behind by teammate Shannon Bahrke.

The Americans are considered a good shot to win one, maybe two, of the 20 medals the United States Olympic Committee has set as a goal for the games.

Jillian Vogtli, the fourth American on the Olympic moguls team, failed to qualify among the top 16.

Battelle's second-place qualifying finish was something of a surprise, if only because she has fallen behind Hardaway and Bahrke this year. But her trip down the mountain was smooth and clean, skis running almost perfectly parallel through the bumps, her landings smooth and fluid.

Despite one of her best runs of the year, the 34-year-old Battelle still finished a sizable 1.01 points behind Traa, who has won five of the last six moguls events this season and is a heavy favorite to win gold.

"I don't really get nervous anymore,'' Traa said after her run.

She threw the first triple twister jump of the day, propelling herself off the incline and taking her skis right, left, then right again before landing without a hitch.

Nagano gold medalist Tae Satoya of Japan finished sixth and her teammate, Aiko Uemura finished fourth to establish themselves as threats to Traa, who won the bronze medal in 1998.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press