PARK CITY, Utah Jan. 27, 2005 (USSA) - Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO) captured his first win of the year Thursday to lead the second American moguls sweep of the season. Bloom was joined on the podium with local Nathan Roberts (Park City, UT), who won last weekend in Fernie, Canada, and Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) who returned to action just 13 days after surgery placed a pin in his left foot. Dawson led the first men's sweep three weeks ago in Mont Tremblant before injuring his foot while training in Lake Placid.
The men's sweep was precluded with Michelle Roark (Denver, CO) winning the women's event, while teammate Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) finished third. The win was Roark's second podium on the year after snagging the third place spot in Lake Placid. It was also Kearney's second podium after a third in Mont Tremblant.
"This is the third time I've been part of a sweep and the first time I've been able to win," said Bloom. "It's very exciting for us, especially being in our own country. It's really an advantage to us, because when we train in the summer and fall we know what the world's best are doing day in and day out. So it's fun to have them pushing me and me pushing them and hopefully we can duplicate this in February of 2006."
Bloom threw a 720 iron cross at the top followed by a d-spin. He said he got caught up in his transition but was fortunate to be able to regain his balance before he took off.
"It's the best when you come down and you pull a sweep," said Dawson, who did a heli iron cross on the top air and cork 720 at the bottom. "It doesn't happen too often. It's really amazing to be able to do it."
Dawson said it was a "little nerve-wracking" to compete knowing he was injured and trying to ski at the top level. His strategy was to just focus on his run.
Roark said the women were inspired by the men's team: "We're using them as our model," she said.
For Roark, the win ended a near six year drought. Her last victory came in 1999 in Blackcomb, B.C., where she won both the singles and dual moguls competitions. She also noted her career has been plagued with injuries including a nasty crash on the same Deer Valley course in 2000 where she blew out her right knee and was sidelined for almost three years.
"I do love this course, though," she said of Champion course, one of the longest and steepest on the World Cup circuit. "It's cool to come back and stomp it on this course. I also had some really rough training today - I was in tears afterward - so it was cool to pull it together and have a run like that."
Besides the haunting memory of a crash to overcome; Roark, along with Kearney, also had to face the daunting task of learning inverted tricks this season. They said they needed to add the tricks to their repertiore not only because of a change in rules that limited their performance of "standard" tricks, but also because they knew they could not win without them.
"I was one of those people who said I will never, ever do that. I will never go inverted," said Roark."And low and behold, here I am."
Roark said she mastered her back flips thanks to the aquisition of a trampoline this summer. "I just started doing tons of them - just to get used to being upside down and I think that really helped."
Besides the back flip, her run also featured a "bronco" on the second jump: a 180 with a big spread in the middle and finishing with another 180.
"It was great Deer Valley snow. We've had a lot of challenging conditions this season, but this was a real moguls course - real moguls skiing."
"It was a really exciting show," said Liz McIntyre, U.S. moguls technical coach. "They all did their best and their best was good enough. The men swept and the women were first and third - it was really exciting to watch as a coach because I know they have worked really hard and it's nice to see it all come to fruition."
McIntyre said the athletes' performance literally broughht tears to her eyes, especially watching Roark conquer the course and Dawson overcome his recent injury.
"Michelle really made a lot of changes in the off-season in her jump practice and in her focus," McIntyre said. "She's been threatening all year and she's finally here every week. This is a tough hill for her and I was really happy for her.
"For Toby I knew it would be a stretch and it all came down to the medical advice. But I knew if he was cleared to ski here he would be competitive. It's pretty amazing to think he could do nothing for 10 days, be on crutches, keep his foot up and then do something as physical and fast as this - it's great. I had a feeling if he would be here he would be on the podium."