Deer Valley, UT, Jan. 8, 2001–American Hannah Hardaway scored her first career World Cup win, taking the Gateway Freestyle Challenge mogulson the Olympic venue at Deer Valley. Finland’s Mikko Ronkainen won the men’s, his second career win and first in two seasons.
Ronkainen won with a score of 26.93 over American Evan Dybvig’s 26.75. Qualifying-round leader Janne Lahtela was third in 26.51. Hardaway wonover World Cup leader Kari Traa of Norway, scoring 24.31 to Traa’s 23.85. Minna Karhu of Finland was third.
It was a replay, of sorts, of the 1997 World Junior Championships in Finland where both Hardaway and Ronkainen made their junior breakthroughwith titles.
Hardaway, who sat out the 1998 and 1999 seasons with consecutive knee injuries, took a huge jump from a previous World Cup best of eighth backin 1997 to her first career win.
“I really hadn’t thought about this (winning),” said Hardaway. “I threw my heli (helicopter) at the top but had a little bobble. I tried to pick up somespeed in the middle section.”
Hardaway was battling strep throat but balanced rest with training all week. “I was really sick all week so I had to take a lot of time to rest. It was greatto have my family here — they know what’s best for me.”
Around 6,000 spectators jammed the Olympic venue for the final Olympic test of Deer Valley’s Champion run.
“The crowd was great,” said Hardaway. “They’re here to support us. Some look at it as pressure, but I just look at the support.”
Traa retained the FIS Freestyle World Cup tour lead with 196 points after her win a month ago in Tignes, France.
Ronkainen was a surprise winner, qualifying ninth but parlaying a pair of huge aerial maneuvers into his second career win. His heli-iron-cross at thetop and triple-twister-spread at the bottom netted him the highest air score of the day, which no one could top.
It was a ready day for us, for all of us,” said Ronkainen. It helps a lot if there is a really big crowd. It is very enjoyable to ski here.”
Ronkainen said that his huge airs even caught him by surprise. “I didn’t know every move I was going to do, bu I knew I had to ski clear and do tworeally big jumps.”
For Dybvig, the podium finish was welcome but his fourth straight second place left him shaking his head. “I’m getting tired of second,” laughedDybvig, who was second a year ago at Deer Valley. “Maybe I’m saving it up for next year!”
World Cup champion Lahtela was bitterly disappointed with his third place finish, having dominated qualifying. He posted the fasted run of the day byover a half-second, the highest turns score, but the only the seventh highest air score to drop to third, .42 points away from the win. He still retainedthe World Cup lead after his win in Tignes, with Ronkainen closing the gap 192-180.
The World Cup now moves to Mt. Tremblant, Quebec next weekend before shifting to Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia for the FIS WorldFreestyle Ski Championships Jan. 14-21.
FIS FREESTYLE WORLD CUP
Gateway Freestyle Challenge
Deer Valley, UT, Sun. Jan. 7
1. Mikko Ronkainen, FIN, 26.93
2. Evan Dybvig, Tunbridge, VT, 26.75
3. Janne Lahtela, FIN, 26.51
4. Laurent Niol, FRA, 26.00
5. Sami Mustonen, FIN, 25.98
6. Stephane Rochon, CAN, 25.09
7. Gregory Lecaillon, FRA, 24.75
8. Pierre-Alexandre, CAN, 22.63
9. Travis Ramos, S. Lake Tahoe, CA, 21.88
10. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO, 10.78
11. Ryan Riley, Steamboat Springs, CO 10.78
Did Not Qualify for Finals
20. Luke Westerlund, Breckenridge, CO, 23.23
21. Alex Wilson, Buffalo, NY, 23.18
23. Tim Warner, Waterford, MI, 23.03
36. Caleb Martin, Telluride, CO, 20.11
41. Garth Hager, Bothell, WA, 19.05
52. Jonny Moseley, Tiburon, CA, 7.74
1. Hannah Hardaway, Moultonborough, NH, 24.31
2. Kari Traa, NOR, 23.85
3. Minna Karhu, FIN, 23.57
4. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA, 23.39
5. Jennifer Heil, CAN, 23.076. Katleen Allais, FRA, 22.70
7. Ingrid Berntsen, NOR, 22.62
8. Elena Vorona, RUS, 22.56
9. Margarita Marbler, AUT, 22.33
10. Sandra Laoura, FRA, 22.08
Did Not Qualify for Finals
16. Donna Weinbrecht, Killington, VT, 21.26
19. Lindley Hord, Steamboat Springs, CO, 20.50
20. Jillian Vogtli, Park City, UT, 20.47
21. Shelly Robertson, Reno, NV, 20.40
32. Emiko Torito, Denver, CO, 17.97
36. Michelle Roark, Park City, UT, 16.26
FIS Freestyle World Cup
Men’s Mogul Standings (after two events)
1. Janne Lahtela, FIN, 192
2. Mikko Ronkainen, FIN, 180
3. Sami Mustonen, FIN, 180
4. Pierre-Alexandre, CAN, 156
5. Gregory Lecaillon, FRA, 152
Top U.S. Skiers
6. Evan Dybvig, Tunbridge, VT, 128
10. Ryan Riley, Steamboat Springs, CO, 120
14. Travis Ramos, S. Lake Tahoe, CA, 68
16. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO, 64
Women’s Mogul Standings (after two events)
1. Kari Traa, NOR, 196
2. Elena Vorona, RUS, 160
3. Jennifer Heil, CAN, 160
4. Katleen Allais, FRA, 160
5. Minna Karhu, FIN, 144
Top U.S. Skiers
9. Hannah Hardaway, Moultonborough, NH, 124
13. Donna Weinbrecht, Killington, VT, 96
16. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA, 88