PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 30 2004 - Toby Dawson won and, with defending World Cup champion Travis Cabral in third place, led an overpowering display of strength Friday by the U.S. men's World Cup moguls troupe on Day One of the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National as U.S. men went 1-3-4-5-7. Kari Traa of Norway was the women's winner with Hannah Kearney in second place as U.S. women went 2-5-6.
"We're smiling. We're psyched," said moguls Head Coach Donnie St. Pierre. "It's continuing the philosophy that if one can't do it, another will... and that happened again today. Hannah stepped up big and Toby was huge!"
Dawson was eighth in the qualifying round but nailed a heli-X off the top jump and a cork-7, an off-axis move with two spins, off the bottom jump to finish with 26.42 points for the third World Cup win of his career. Finn Janne Lahtela, the 2002 men's Olympic champion at Deer Valley who leads the current standings, was second (26.25) and Cabral took third at 26.18. The top five skiers were less than a half-point apart.
When he took the bronze medal in dual moguls last January at the World Championships at Deer Valley, Dawson threw an off-axis jump at the bottom to clinch the medal. "Yeah, this was very similar to that; I've worked on it to put it to my feet," he said.
Dawson plays off "lucky" No. 8
Before the Sprint World Cup, Dawson stood eighth in the World Cup standings. He qualified eighth "and, y'know, a friend told me No. 8 is a really lucky number; he said in China everyone tries to get 8s on their license plate, so I thought maybe I'm gonna have a really good run."
"It was one of those runs where every single turn is gonna be placed. It was kinda like being on auto-pilot. It's always nice to have that kind of run," Dawson said. "We've gotten so much from the coaches — working with all of us individually, video analysis...they're doing a great job for us."
Cabral was third for the third time in the last four World Cups as he looks to defend his moguls title. Deer Valley is the sixth of 15 World Cup contests.
Kearney, 17, an Olympic forerunner who just finished her last classes before she'll pick up a high school diploma in the spring, led the qualifying round and survived a slight bobble near the finish to place second behind Norway's Kari Traa, who won the 2002 Olympic gold medal and the 2003 World Championships gold medal at Deer Valley.
Kearney stepped it up from so-so training
"My first run was good. Obviously, I was psyched with that. The second was probably just as good up to the bottom," Kearney said. "Then I had a bobble just before the finish line...but I'm still really happy."
Her pre-competition training runs hadn't been stellar, Kearney said, "so I was a little nervous. I did a heli-X on the top and a heli on the bottom. Then I just tried to lay down the same run" in finals.
She said conditions "were really nice — lots of soft snow, and the course was all sorts of tight, little moguls, really fun to ski. It was a little shorter than usual, so you didn't get quite as tired...not that my legs aren't plenty tired."
"This is what you want — pretty exciting finals and the members of the team pushing each other to do well. They train together," St. Pierre said, "and they work with each other."
The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National concludes Saturday with double-barreled action — aerials during the day and dual moguls under the lights.