Deer Valley, UT Jan. 8--Reigning World Cup champion and '99 Worldsgold medalist Ann Battelle (Steamboat Springs, CO) returned to the frontof the points parade Saturday, finishing second in the Gateway FreestyleMillennium Challenge at Deer Valley Resort. Evan Dybvig (Tunbridge, VT)was second in the men's event - just .02 out of what would have been hisfirst World Cup victory - as he led four U.S. skiers into the top 10.
The competition will be televised Jan. 16 at 4 p.m. EST on NBC.
In the first World Cup event held at Deer Valley - the Olympic mogulsand aerials venue in 2002, Janne Lahtela of Finland captured the men'sevent while Sandra Schmitt of Germany took the women's contest. Eachreceived a Gateway laptop computer in addition to the $4,500 first-placemoney.
Norwegian Kari Traa, who had won all previous singles and dual eventsthis winter (duals meets at Tandadalen, Sweden, and Blackcomb, B.C.,plus a lone singles event in Tandalen), tripped herself in the finalsand absorbed her first loss of the season, along with a 12th-placefinish. Schmitt received 24.93 points to 24.52 for Battelle, who leadsthe points after two events with 184 to 168 for Schmitt. Shannon Bahrke(Reno, NV) - who missed part of the preseason training because ofsickness - was fourth, just .02 away from the podium.
Lahtela, the current World Cup and world champion, received 26.27 pointsto 26.25 for Dybvig, who recorded the third second-place finish of hiscareer. Alex Wilson (Buffalo, NY) was seventh (25.24), Luke Westerlund(Breckenridge, CO) - the defending Nor Am moguls champion - posted hisfirst World Cup top-10 in eighth place and Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) was10th.
Moguls Coach Don St. Pierre said he was pleased with most of the U.S.skiing, which was rebounding from news that Michelle Roark (Golden, CO),the defending World Cup dual moguls champion and a strong singles skier,injured her knee in training Friday; she will visit Dr. Richard SteadmanMonday at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail. "Michelle going downmeant a lot of upset," he said.
"Still, we had some real highlights beyond Ann and Evan skiing so well:Toby Dawson leading the men's qualifying, Shannon coming back to do soincredibly well, Travis Cabral South Lake Tahoe, CA - our currentnational champion, who won when he was just 15 - skiing in his firstWorld Cup and being 15th...just outstanding," St. Pierre said.
Battelle noted the moguls run - at 270 meters - is longer than mostWorld Cup courses, which meant athletes had to get used to endurance aswell as technique. "It wasn't a bad day," she said, "although I'd'veliked to be on top, but I messed up on the bottom section. Otherwise, Iskied pretty well...but it's a long, really long course." An afternoonsnow squall didn't create much of a problem, she said, and Deer Valleyorganizers made certain there were plenty of pine boughs to held skiersfind their line in the flat light caused by the sun going behind themountain. "We never saw the sun," Battelle said, "but they did a greatjob with the course."
She had planned to execute a daffy twister on the second of her twomandatory jumps, Battelle said, but she had fallen back a bit "and I didwhat you're never supposed to do and changed my flight plan. But it allworked out okay. "I was definitely a little frustrated with myselfbecause I knew that bump that tossed me...I knew where it was and whatto do with it, and didn't, so I was a little frustrated."
Dybvig threw a "720" (double rotation) for his top jump - the first timehe'd thrown it in competition this winter - and a triple twister at thebottom. "I wanted to make finals and then really wanted to do a '720.'I've been training that a lot this year and practicing, and reallyhadn't competed with it yet. so," he continued, "I did a '720' off thetop air, had a pretty good middle section, and I was intending to do aquad twister off the bottom air, but I got thrown coming off the jumpand I was happy I got a triple off, and was able to ski ouut of it."
He added with a smile, "I'm really, really psyched at how the year isgoing."
St. Pierre said after being the surprise qualifying leader, Dawsonappeared - despite his best intentions to stay cool - to try too hard onhis finals run. "That's such a big thing for Toby to be first, and nowhe'll learn from that. He had trouble on his top jump and drifted a bit,but he covered it up, then ripped through the middle.... But theexperience of being No. 1 was great, and he said later he knows he cando it without doing something extraordinary. Toby'll be back.
"I was thinking about doing everything as clean as I can," said Dawson,who was sixth in his World Cup debut at Mt. Tremblant, Que., lastJanuary. "I skied the course well during training, so I laid down thequalifying run the way I knew how to." Dawson broke a ski pole on histop air on his second run, he said, "and I had a little trouble fromthere."
The Gateway Freestyle Millennium Challenge concludes Sudnay with men'sand women's aerials on what will be the '02 Olympic freestyle jumps atDeer Valley. Eric Bergoust (Missoula, MT), the 1998 Olympic champion andgold medalist at the '99 World Championships, will miss the event afterinjuring his left ankle Thursday in training.