Published: February 2002
When Bill Marolt put his 10-medal goal on the chalkboard five years ago, he knew he had an ace in the hole: his freestylers. Consider last year’s World Cup standings. In moguls: four men in the top 10 (and none of them was defending gold medalist Jonny Moseley) and five women in the top 15 (including five-time titleholder Donna Weinbrecht and two-time titleholder Ann Battelle). In aerials: again, four men in the top 10, including the one-two duo of Eric Bergoust and Joe Pack. Marolt knows that even if the U.S. flops in every other event, the bumpers and huckers could still bail him out.
So Marolt is confident going into the first day of competition, when perfect conditions level the playing field for women’s moguls. The fan favorite by far is Weinbrecht, winner of the first Olympic medal ever awarded in moguls back in 1992.
But the Jersey Blonde isn’t the kid she once was; she settles for 10th¿and an ovation from the Deer Valley crowd. Youth will be served this day, and it belongs to Hannah Hardaway, who takes silver.
Three days later, the men have their turn. All eyes (especially female) are on Moseley, who has fought his way back onto the team after a two-year victory tour of babes and beers. He’s brilliant in qualifying, stunning the crowd with his new-school air, the instantly famous 720 Dinner Roll. But the move also proves his undoing: He crashes on landing in the finals. The Finns, meanwhile, look unbeatable. Who will carry the U.S. flag? Jeremy Bloom, the University of Colorado wide-receiver-turned-bump-skier, edges out teammate Toby Dawson for the bronze.
Two events, two medals. Good, but not good enough; especially after the women’s aerialists come up empty a week later. Now it’s up to the men.
Never fear: This is the day Bergoust has been dreaming of since he used to huck himself out of the second-story window of his parents’ house onto stacks of mattresses on the lawn. There have been rumors all week that Bergoust finally has the quintuple twist in his bag.
But in the end, he doesn’t even need it. His quads are flawless, and the only credible competition comes from teammate Pack, who delights his hometown crowd with equally huge air. Gold and silver for USA. Marolt pumps his fist and embraces both in bear hugs. The freestylers have come through with four medals. NBC cuts away to live coverage of Michelle Kwan changing her skate laces.