World Duals Gold to Bloom, Bronze For Bahrke, Dawson

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DEER VALLEY, UT (Feb. 1) - Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO), the University of Colorado football player who wore a gold helmet with a CO bison logo over each ear, overcame a shattered ski Saturday and tore-up the bottom half of the course to win the dual moguls gold medal at the FIS Freestyle World Championships with Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) taking bronze. Kari Traa of Norway repeated as women's duals champ with Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) as bronze medalist.

"I didn't want another silver medal," Bloom said after knocking off Japan's Yugo Tsukita in the dual moguls final at cloudy Deer Valley Resort. It was the front half of a double-event day on the final scheduled day of Worlds; aerials were scheduled to start under the lights at 6 p.m. MST.

NBC, which was to broadcast two hours of Worlds action on both Saturday and Sunday, rescheduled its coverage - because of the Columbia space shuttle disaster - with moguls scheduled for 1-3 p.m. EST. Duals and aerials tentatively are scheduled will be shown Feb. 22 at 3-5 p.m. EST; check local listings.

Bloom had been undecided about competing in duals after winning silver Friday in moguls but, given a now-or-never edict by moguls Head Coach Don St. Pierre and technical Coach Liz McIntyre, he decided to compete. The defending World Cup moguls champ who had skied in just four events - three singles and the only duals on the early season schedule - coming into Worlds, landed a heli-X off his first air and nailed a double twister spread at the bottom for the gold medal.

BLOOM STILL NOT NUTS ABOUT DEER VALLEY, BUT...
Bloom, who has been very candid in discussing his frustrations at Deer Valley, said the Champion moguls run - the longest moguls course on the World Cup tour - is still not his favorite although perhaps the weekend's scoreboard reads "Bloom 2, Champion 0."

"I'll never like it. I don't care," Bloom said. "I feel I might be evening the score a little bit, and that makes me feel good...

"I stopped thinking about what course it was or where I was. It didn't matter at that point. You can't come to a World Championships event and think 'Oh, I'm skiing against someone easy' - there's no round like that. It kind of doesn't matter who you're skiing against. You just need to go as fast as you can. Pretty much it's survival and I was able to survive..."

The broken ski was spotted as he got set for his Round of 16 run against Canadian Scott Bellevance. Fortunately, there was a course hold because Finn Janne Lahtela had wiped out the timing gear at finish line in a "yard sale" crash that scattered everything.

"We were hanging out, waiting from them to fix it," Bloom said. "And I look over and my ski is broken in half. And I didn't have any other skis up there. I kinda panicked...

"I don't know when (it snapped). I hope I didn't ski that whole first duel with it snapped in half. I really don't know because usually when the tail snaps in half, you put a little wait on the back and there's nothing there. I don't know. ...You could see the wood, it was definitely in half..."

DAWSON WASN'T SURE HE COULD LAND IT, BUT...
He had backup skis but they were at the bottom of the course, so Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen scrambled and got a replacement to Bloom, who, by then, was wearing teammate Luke Westerlund's skis as he headed for the start. Said a smiling moguls Head Coach Donnie St. Pierre, "There was a slight moment of panic..."

Dawson, bronze medalist Friday in moguls, snared his second bronze with a stunning off-axis maneuver that grabbed everyone's attention at the bottom air just as Lahtela figured he was third.

"I guess it was about as much a surprise for me as for the crowd," Dawson said, "because I wasn't sure if I was going to bring it down to my feet (land it) or not. Luckily, I had enough air awareness so I was able to kinda figure out how to get my feet back under my body and finish.

"I decided right in the start gate. I was talking to Donnie - I was yelling him, 'I'm gonna throw a daffy Iron Cross on top' and I really didn't tell him my plan on the bottom but I think he kinda had an idea when I changed my game plan for the top air...

"I wanted to give the crowd the best show I possibly could," Dawson explained. "I was in a third and fourth place duel, so, really, I figured third and fourth place were about the same. The placing wasn't really a big concern of mine. I just wanted to have fun and give the crowd exactly what they wanted to see."

Not a bad weekend. "Not bad at all. I'm gonna go home, go in my dark closet and they'll look like gold."

Bahrke ran into "King Kong Kari" in the semifinals, a duel between the Olympic champion and Olympic silver medalist which was the highlight of the women's day. Traa won the run, 18-17, when Bahrke bobbled her second air. Still, she had a Texas-size smile (gold would have meant an Alaska-size smile) and said she was pleased to have moved up to the podium behind Traa. The Norwegian star won duals and singles at the 2001 Worlds, moguls Olympic gold at Deer Valley 51 weeks ago, and swept both golds this week.

"Every day you wake-up and it's like 'Man, this is what I get to do every day. And people come up to watch me ski.' It was just a beautiful day today and the snow, I think everyone agrees, was so much better today. I wish the singles had been on this snow. It was so much fun, slush everywhere, really good spring skiing - and in January (Sic).

"I don't think (the snow) deteriorated at all. I think everyone did a really good job keeping up the jumps; the jumps, I thought, were perfect...and just going in and out was really good. It was so slushy and fast you could go direct and really do good. My skiing was the best I've skied in a few weeks, so I was really excited to be able to turn it on today and do well," she said.

After skiing side by side through the entire run, Bahrke got turned partway around going into her final jump, and it cost her. "Because Kari goes so big and I thought, 'Dang it, I have to go big, too' and so she was going and I know that she goes over the last two moguls because that's usually where Kari makes up all of her ground in duals.

BAHRKE WANTED TO NEUTRALIZE TRAA'S FINISH
"She just takes everyone into the bottom air and then out of the bottom air, and she smokes you. You could be going neck and neck, and in the bottom air she'll waste you by four seconds and you wonder, 'How did that happen?' And I was not going to let that happen to me today.

"So, I was going over the last two moguls and I think right before the air I think I caught something, or my arm was behind, or something and I was a little off-balance. It was like Whoooop! So, that's what happened - I don't really know. ...I was like 'Uh oh, this isn't where you want to do a double twister spread.' Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't; I haven't done double twister spread all year. This is like the first time I've ever done them. So, I was pretty pleased with the outcome."

St. Pierre, understandably pleased with six moguls medals, pointed to the athletes and said they're the ones who performed when they had to. "It's always been our aim and our mission with the team to get a group of athletes who can rise to the occasion on any given day and to have enough talent amongst the squad, and a variety of different packages, so that we can get in there. If one athlete can't do it, we want to be in a position where we've got a few others that can.

"First place was elusive for us (Friday) but I think the boys were pretty determined today, as it showed in those duals. They were pretty hungry," St. Pierre said. "I think these guys are great at not taking themselves too seriously."

He conceded there was a little heartburn watching Bloom and Dawson tangle in semifinals. "What can you say? 'Go get it, boys.'"

Watching from the top of the course is not the best vantage point, the coach added, but he was delighted with Bahrke's run against Traa. "I thought she had Kari on turns, and she was really quick through the middle of that course. She skied really brilliant and I'm proud of her - you just weren't going to beat Kari with a spread on the second jump."

The World Cup resumes next weekend in Steamboat Springs, CO, with the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National. Aerials are scheduled Saturday with moguls Sunday.

2003 FIS FREESTYLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Deer Valley, UT - Feb. 1
Dual Moguls (8 made quarterfinals)Men
1. Jeremy Bloom, Loveland, CO2. Yugo Tsukita, Japan3. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO4. Janne Lahtela, Finland5. Stephane rochon, Canada6. Fredrik Fortkord, Sweden7. Tapio Luusua, Finland8. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, Canada -9T. Dave Babic, Washington, VT17T. Mike Friedberg, Boulder, CO --Women1. Kari Traa, Norway2. Marina Cherkasova, Russia3. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA4. Ingrid Berntsen, Norway5. Maria Despas, Australia6. Tae Satoya, Japan7. Tami Bradley, Canada8. Cristina Rabadan, Spain -9T. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, NY, and Shelly Robertson, Reno, NVun against Traa. "I thought she had Kari on turns, and she was really quick through the middle of that course. She skied really brilliant and I'm proud of her - you just weren't going to beat Kari with a spread on the second jump."

The World Cup resumes next weekend in Steamboat Springs, CO, with the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National. Aerials are scheduled Saturday with moguls Sunday.

2003 FIS FREESTYLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Deer Valley, UT - Feb. 1
Dual Moguls (8 made quarterfinals)Men
1. Jeremy Bloom, Loveland, CO2. Yugo Tsukita, Japan3. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO4. Janne Lahtela, Finland5. Stephane rochon, Canada6. Fredrik Fortkord, Sweden7. Tapio Luusua, Finland8. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, Canada -9T. Dave Babic, Washington, VT17T. Mike Friedberg, Boulder, CO --Women1. Kari Traa, Norway2. Marina Cherkasova, Russia3. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA4. Ingrid Berntsen, Norway5. Maria Despas, Australia6. Tae Satoya, Japan7. Tami Bradley, Canada8. Cristina Rabadan, Spain -9T. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, NY, and Shelly Robertson, Reno, NV