Last night, the U.S. picked up its fist gold medal of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games when mogul skier Hannah Kearney, from Vermont, clocked the fastest time of the day—27.86 seconds—at Cypress Mountain outside Vancouver. She threw a back flip on her top jump and a 360-degree spin on her second and had near-perfect form. Canadian Jenn Heil earned second and American Shannon Bahrke got bronze.
“I think the qualifying run was the key to my success today,” Kearney told ESPN. “In some ways, it was redemption for the absolute failure I experienced in Torino.” At the 2006 Games, she placed a disappointing 22nd. We spoke to Kearney before she left for Vancouver about her plans for redemption at this Olympics. “I have more training, more experience,” says Kearney. “I’m going there to win a gold medal.”
Turns out, she was right. Kearney (which is pronounced “carny”) won her first World Cup event in 2004, when she was just 17 years old. Now 23, she’s the current World Cup moguls champ and now, a gold medal winner.
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