January 6, 2006
MONT GABRIEL, QUEBEC - (USST News Bureau Release) - Olympic moguls medalist and former World Cup champion Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) collected her first victory in nearly four years Saturday, winning by one-hundredth of a point and leading four U.S. women into the top 10 to open the World Cup in steady rain, fog and soft conditions. Nate Roberts (Park City, UT) was the top American man, finishing fifth.
Bahrke qualified fourth behind reigning Olympic and World Cup champion Jenn Heil of Canada, but she stuck a heli and backflip-cross, good for 24.60 points and the sixth win of her career. Swede Sara Kjellin was second at 24.59 and Margarita Marbler of Austria third. Dale Begg-Smith of Australia, the 2006 Olympic and World Cup champion, won the men's contest.
"I'm so excited, I can't believe it," Barhke said, even three hours after the competition. "All those injuries, all that bad stuff is behind me now. It's been too long, so this is even sweeter." Since winning the 2003 World Cup title, she had, among other things, broke her jaw when she slammed down on a ski pole in the middle of run in 2004 and then tore her right anterior cruciate ligament in '05.
Bahrke: "Some days..."
"It was terrible and I know the rain bothered some people, but it didn't bother me. I'm used to it and I was just so glad to be starting the season," she said. "Some days you feel like everything's gonna be good, and that's how I was this morning. It was so good to get back up there and get going."
Despite the frustrating non-start to the season - until Saturday, Bahrke said she had drawn some inspiration from the historic run of success by the U.S. Alpine Team before Christmas when five skiers produced nine top-3s, including five victories - with the first wins for Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) and Steven Nyman (Provo, UT).
"I know and like so many people on the alpine team - Steven, Julia, Marco (Sullivan - who also grew up skiing at Squaw Valley, CA, and who was fourth in a World Cup race last month)...and they give me so much inspiration. And it seems harder because they have so many athletes in their races. I feed off that, for sure," Bahrke said.
Storming the finals with Bahrke were defending moguls world champ Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) in fifth with Heather McPhie (Bozeman, MT), who was sixth in her third World Cup, and Shelly Robertson (Reno, NV) 10th.
On the men's side, Dale Begg-Smith of Australia won with 25.74 and Roberts had 25.23, while Sho Kashima (Zephr Cove, NV), competing in his first World Cup, was 12th at 22.91. Also in his first World Cup, Jay Bowman-Kirigin (Salt Lake City) was 15th.
"It poured the whole day," said U.S. Coach Scott Rawles. "It was foggy, and we had several delays...but they got it in, and our guys hung in there pretty well."
Coach: Bahrke's back!
"The snow got soft because of all the rain and it's been super warm up here. Shannon skied a good, clean run - her jumps were clean, and you know she laid down a good run because she moved up from fourth. We're psyched for her because she's worked so hard all summer and finally has her health back. Combine those two things - good training, good health - and she's back!
He said he also was amped about Roberts' performance because he missed making the Olympic Team last year, even though he's is the reigning world champion. "He did a great job - we traveled Wednesday, his gear didn't get here until Thursday night, so he had one day of training...and now he's got a top-5 to start the season.
"It's been tough not being able to compete until now," Rawles said. "We were pretty much ready to go Dec. 9 (when the team was to have headed to France), then the season gets delayed, and now we're skiing in the rain...but we're underway. That's terrific."
The season - which was to have begun with two moguls events in snow-starved France before Christmas - continuess Sunday with an aerials contest and then heads Deer Valley Resort in Park City, UT, for the Chevrolet Freestyle International.
For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=FS&event_id=20486.