DEER VALLEY, Utah (February 9) -- The U.S. picked up its first medal of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games as Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, Calif.) had a near flawless run to win the silver in the women's mogul event at Deer Valley Resort Saturday. Norwegian star Kari Traa took the gold, while Japan's Tae Satoya won the bronze.
Bahrke, the reigning U.S. champion in moguls, was fifth after the qualification run, but turned it on in her second pass on the steep Deer Valley bump hill to finish second with a score of 25.06. After some clean turns on the top section, Bahrke laid down a heli iron cross on the first kicker. She followed that with a straight helicopter on the second jump and crossed the finish line, throwing her hands into the air.
"I love this course, and, like I said, I think it really accents all the stuff I've got going for me," said an elated Bahrke. "I love it. The sun is out and the sky is blue and that's what I do best in."
The second place finish has continued a super strong competitive season for Bahrke. In early January, she posted her first career victory on the FIS World Cup tour with a win in Oberstdorf, Germany. She went on to record two more podium finishes after that.
"We've done a lot of training on this course," said Bahrke. "We've had World Cups, the Gold Cup and training camps here, so I think that gave a huge advantage to us. But I think the biggest advantage is having my hometown fans here. And everyone, all these Americans cheering for you...I am so proud to be an American."
Traa won the gold with a score of 25.94. She actually pulled the same trick as Bahrke (heli iron cross) on the first jump and then executed a triple twister on the bottom.
"I was so nervous while I was waiting for my score because my second air wasn't so good," said Traa. "I'm just so happy that I made it."
Satoya won the bronze with a score of 24.85 and Canadian Jennifer Heil was just behind in fourth with a 24.84.
East coast native Hannah Hardaway (Moultonborough, N.H.), considered one of the top choices for a U.S. medal, was third after qualifications, but ended up finishing fifth. Hardaway has had three World Cup podium finishes this season, so she went into Deer Valley with a lot of confidence.
Four-time Olympian Ann Battelle (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) skied away with her best Olympic performance, taking seventh and topping her eighth place finish in 1994. However, Battelle's placing Saturday went the way of Hardaway's, as she was in second following qualifications.
"I was feeling confident knowing I skied this course pretty well the last couple of days," said Battelle. "I wasn't nervous considering how many people I was skiing in front of."
Jillian Vogtli (Ellicotville, N.Y.), competing in her first Olympic Winter Games, failed to make the final cut of 16 as she finished 18th in qualifications.
"It's was quite a journey (the road to the Olympic Winter Games)," said Vogtli. "I've enjoyed every bit of it and I've accomplished my lifelong dream."
The men's mogul competition is set for February 12 at Deer Valley.
2002 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
February 9, 2002
Deer Valley, Utah
1. Kari Traa, Norway (25.94)
2. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif. (25.06)
3. Tae Satoya, Japan (24.85)
4. Jennifer Heil, Canada (24.84)
5. Hannah Hardaway, Moultonborough, N.H. (24.77)
6. Aiko Uemura, Japan (24.66)
7. Ann Battelle, Steamboat Springs, Colo. (24.62)
8. Sandra Laoura, France (24.12)
9. Marina Cherkasova, Russia (23.52)
10. Margarita Marbler, Austria (23.18)
11. Elena Vorona, Russia (23.17)
12. Minna Karhu, Finland (23.07)
13. Kelly Ringstad, Canada (22.86)
14. Tami Bradley, Canada (18.46)
15. Sara Kjellin, Sweden (RNS)
16. Anja Bolbjerg, Denmark (RNS)
Did Not Qualify for Finals
18. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y. (22.16)