KILLINGTON, Vt. (March 23) - A tenacious Holt Haga (Boise, ID) won his first U.S. moguls title Friday while Olympic and World Championships medalist Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) won her fifth U.S. title - but first since 2003 - on Day Two of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships.
Versus will broadcast coverage of the U.S. Championships Sunday April 1 at 3 p.m. ET with the Nature Valley Freestyle Challange duals moguls contest at 4 p.m. ET later that day.
"I'm so excited. I haven't won in such a long time," said Bahrke, who was sidelined through much of the 2004 and '05 seasons by separate injuries. "It just goes to show when you do what you want to do, and you go home and work hard at that, you can come back and succeed."
Bahrke: purple hair, gold medal
Bahrke, competing with her trademark glitter on her eyelids and a new look (i.e., partially purple hair), pounded through the spring conditions on Outer Limits for 27.17 points. The silver medal went to Jillian Vogtli (Ellicotville, NY), one of her teammates at the last two Olympics, who had 26.41, with Heather McPhie (Bozeman, MT) capturing the bronze (25.88).
"I did my usual run, heli (full rotation) on the top 'air' and a backflip iron cross off the bottom air. It's what I've been doing all season and it's been working," said Bahrke. She won two more World Cup contests this winter and collected the silver medal in dual moguls earlier this month at the 2007 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in Italy.
"It was so gnarly. There was a lot of slush," she said, referring to the hot sun. "From our first run, about four hours earlier, it had gotten way deeper. The course was totally different. It was unrecognizable."
A short time later, Haga laid down a nearly flawless run to pickup the men's title with 27.65 points. Nate Roberts (Park City, UT), moguls bronze medalist from Worlds - and the 2005 world champion, was silver medalist (27.22) with defending champion Dave Babic (Washington, VT) in third place with 27.00.
"I came into this with really no expectations. I was just trying to have a good time - and it was my day, an unbelievable day...a perfect day," Haga said. In between runs, he said, he started thinking about the changing snow conditions but his coaches helped him re-focus. "They really mellowed me out and got me straightened up for the run, and then I kind of let everything go."
Haga, who is transferring from Boise State to Utah's Westminster College, nailed with a back-full flip at the top and a D-spin 720, an off-axis, double-rotation maneuver off the bottom jump.
Haga was calmed by knowing his brother was safe
"Coming into the top air, I noticed it was a little bit faster because the sun had gone down and the shadows made it quicker. Coming out of that top jump was like mach-10 - just significantly different from the qualifying run. It turned you on just a little bit," he conceded, "and I came into that bottom air, and once I stuck that, I felt that was it."
While his coaches calmed him for the final run, Haga, who was second in both the NorAm moguls and dual moguls standings this season, said he also got a major boost when his twin brother, Win, recently left Iraq for Germany. "He's in the infantry and got to Germany about two weeks ago on his way home, and knowing he was in Germany and safe, away from hand-to-hand combat, was one less thing to worry about," he said.
The new champion, who got his start at Bogus Basin before moving to Park City, UT, two years ago, shared several group hugs, cheers, photos and celebratory moments with his coaches and teammates from Park City.
The Rip Trick of the Day, worth $2,500, went to newly crowned Junior World Championships gold medalist Bryon Wilson (South Taylorsville, UT), who unloaded a double-full (two twists, one flip) off his top jump before crashing with a huge jump at the bottom. The check was presented by two-time OOlympian and former World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO), who lauded Wilson for both crowd-pleasing jumps, branding his second jump "a moon drop to a butt plant."
The 2007 Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships continue Saturday with aerials and the Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge, featuring dual moguls, concludes the annual series of title events.
For complete results: www.killingtonskiclub.com/us_freestyle_2007.htm.