Moguls Silver for Bloom, Roark, Bronze Medal for Dawson

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Moguls Finals 013103

DEER VALLEY, UT Jan. 31, 2003 (USSA)--The reigning champions successfully defended their titles Friday but U.S. moguls skiers collected three medals with silver for Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO) and Michelle Roark (Denver) while Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) earning the men's bronze medal. The performance tripled the number of medals U.S. skiers got at the 2001 championships.

NBC will televised two hours of coverage Saturday (3-5 p.m. EST) and two more hours Sunday (1-3 p.m. EST).

The championships, the second freestyle Worlds to have been held in the USA (after Lake Placid in 1991), conclude Saturday with dual moguls in the morning and aerials under the lights at Deer Valley Resort.

Mikko Ronkainen of Finland—motivated by wanting to upset a potential U.S. medals sweep—laid down a sizzling final run that earned 28.09 points. Bloom, still dealing with an intense dislike for the Champion run after several years of disappointing results, finished with 27.33 and Dawson had 27.22. Olympic medalist Travis Mayer (Steamboat Springs, CO) was bumped to fourth at 26.85 with Travis Cabral (South Lake Tahoe, CA) sixth.

The top three women from the qualifying run Wednesday finished in the same order in finals. Olympic and World Cup champion Kari Traa of Norway, who won moguls and duals two years ago at the World Championships at Blackcomb, B.C. (where Joe Pack's aerials bronze was the lone U.S., medal), had a run that's the second highest-scoring in history (27.99) and would have had her second among the men. Roark, the 1999 dual moguls World Cup champ who has battled knee problems since an injury at Deer Valley in 2000, earned 27.13 for her run with Canadian Stephanie St. Pierre the bronze medalist at 26.46 and Olympic silver medalist Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, UT) fourth. Emiko Torito (Englewood, CO) was 12th.

HEAD COACH PLEASED WITH U.S. PERFORMANCES
"We've been at it with the Finns for a long time," Head Coach Jeff Wintersteen said, "but at the end of the day when you see the American flags next to the names on the leaderboard and that's pretty rewarding...

"Michelle, regardless of what takes place in practice, she always seems to put her best foot forward in competition ... The guys were ready to go..."

Ronkainen, whose score was .02 higher than when he won in 2001, said, "I was just focusing on my run to do what I can—to do the best run here. It was tough this time because I heard the scores, that my teammates, Janne (Lahtela) and Lauri (Lassila) were not going to win a medal, and three American guys were standing at the top before me, and I just made a decision I'm not going to let them win all the medals today."

Bloom, who missed the first three World Cup moguls events because he was a wide receiver and punt returner for the University of Colorado football team, was understandably delighted with his silver medal. But it doesn't change his feeling about the course, only increases the joy of collecting the medal.

"I still don't like it, but nothing can change that. This just means so much more, to win the silver medal at Worlds after coming here as a skier for five years and just going through the disappointment every single year. And I've never once skied well here.

BLOOM: "THIS MEANT A LOT..."
"And after my run, I just remember crossing the finish line and having flashbacks of all the times I got to the finish line and was disappointed, and today I couldn't be happier. I'm not too much emotional, either, but this meant a lot to me today."

So, how does that compare with a 94-yard pass reception for a touchdown in your first varsity game at CU? "That compares pretty much up there...it's up there," he said. "This was challenging."

After frustrating training, he said, "I tried to turn my brain off and win. I knew mentally would be the most challenging thing, not physically but mentally. I wanted to just ski the run and I did that..."

He credited St. Pierre with loosening him just enough to focuon his run and ignore the frustrations of previous runs at Deer Valley. "He probably made some Austin Powers joke, he's a big fan," according to Bloom. "He's the guy who loosens the mood - he's not the type of coach who says, 'Okay, now the fourth turn is a centimeter longer than the second one...'

"He loosens the mood and that was what I needed..."

Dawson was the only one of the medalists to throw an off-axis trick, a maneuver he calls a Cork-7. He nailed it and zipped to the finish almost flawlessly.

"It was kinda sweet because I decided to do it (Thursday) in training, and threw three or four in training, and did it today in training. I wasn't sure if I was going to stick it. When you go to your competition run, you're skiing a little bit faster, a little bit harder than you are in training, so you're not sure if you're speed's going to be consistent and where your airs' size is going to be. I was just hoping I'd land on my feet and get to the finish line clean...

DAWSON'S OFF-AXIS SEALED THE MEDAL
"It was a tough decision," Dawson said, "because I haven't trained it at all. I've been throwing the Daffy-Iron cross - that's kind of my token trick now, and it's tough to steer away from that trick. The Daffy-Iron cross is something I created, no other competitor is using that trick. So, it was a tough decision but I also wanted to up the ante and lay down one of the best and most exciting runs...

"I like to come out of the bottom so you just let 'em run to the finish. You just have to land it clean, that's the only trick to it all...a small minor detail."

Earlier, Traa—silver medalist behind Ann Battelle (then-Steamboat Springs, CO, now retired) at the 1999 Worlds—overwhelmed the course for her second straight gold medal. "I was standing at the start and I was hearing the scores of the other girls and they were getting higher and higher, so I said, 'Whoa! I'll really have to go for it and give 100 percent.' Normally it works for me; it did today, too," she said.

Roark, wearing a smile as big as 5-foot elevation allowed, said, "It was very satisfying especially since I struggled the week before this event. I didn't go to Fernie (BC—Saturday's duals World Cup). I kinda tweaked my knee a little in Lake Placid and had a little swelling, so I wasn't even sure if I'd ski in this competition. So, it was even more rewarding to know I could rise above that, block it out...

"I was very focused on just skiing my run and having fun with it, and skiing the way I know I can - the way I've known I could. It's been such a long road of recovery and ups and downs, and many disappointments. So, to do this today is very rewarding...

ROARK IGNORED '00 INJURY ON THE SAME HILL
"This was especially rewarding considering this is the (course) I went down on, considering my week I had with the struggle with my knee, and putting all that behind me, and it's also one of the longest courses, so it feels good to find the rhythm on the most technical and long courses."

What's next? "I'm a live-for-the-moment kind of girl. I'm really gonna absorb this. It's very rewarding for me."

Bahrke didn't repeat her Olympic medal-winning performance, but she was buoyant about her performance after struggling in training and qualifying sixth...and she couldn't quibble with the medal winners. "No, I was just excited because I was about up in tears at the start. I had horrible, horrible training (Thursday) and this morning. So, for me just standing in the gate, gathering it all together and putting down a run like that, I was really excited. I got to the bottom fuzzy-side up and in fourth place. That was the best I could do today, so I'm very proud of myself."

Saturday, duals start at 10:30 a.m. MST with aerials scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.

2003 FIS FREESTYLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Deer Valley, UT - Jan. 31
Moguls Finals (16 made finals)
Men
1. Mikko Ronkainen, Finland, 28.09 points
2. Jeremy Bloom, Loveland, CO, 27.33
3. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO, 27.22
4. Travis Mayer, Steamboat Springs, CO, 26.85
5. Guilbart Colas, France, 26.65
6. Travis Cabral, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 26.50
7. Stephane Rochon, Canada, 26.24
8. Lauri Lassila, Finland, 26.11
9. Janne Lahtela, Finland, 26.00
10. Adrian Costa, Australia, 25.60
11. Yugo Tsukita, Japan, 25.32
12. Michael Robertson, Australia, 25.24
13. Christoph Stark, Germany, 25.10
14. Laurent Niol, France, 24.69
15. Gerhard Bloechl, Germany, 21.86
16. Vladimir Tiumentsev, Russia, 1.56

Women
1. Kari Traa, Norway, 27.99
2. Michelle Roark, Denver, 27.13
3. Stephanie St. Pierre, Canada, 26.46
4. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA, 26.12
5. Ingrid Berntsen, Norway, 25.42
6. Elisa Kurylowicz, Canada, 24.94
7. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic, 24.57
8. Kristi Richards, Canada, 23.70
9. Tami Bradley, Canada, 23.66
10. Sandra Laoura, France, 22.86
11. Jane Sexton, Australia, 22.78
12. Emiko Torito, Englewood, CO, 20.04
13. Daria Serova, Russia, 16.60
14.-16. Aiko Uemura, Tae Satoya, Miyuki Hatanaka, all Japan - all Run not scored
>2. Jeremy Bloom, Loveland, CO, 27.33
3. Toby Dawson, Vail, CO, 27.22
4. Travis Mayer, Steamboat Springs, CO, 26.85
5. Guilbart Colas, France, 26.65
6. Travis Cabral, South Lake Tahoe, CA, 26.50
7. Stephane Rochon, Canada, 26.24
8. Lauri Lassila, Finland, 26.11
9. Janne Lahtela, Finland, 26.00
10. Adrian Costa, Australia, 25.60
11. Yugo Tsukita, Japan, 25.32
12. Michael Robertson, Australia, 25.24
13. Christoph Stark, Germany, 25.10
14. Laurent Niol, France, 24.69
15. Gerhard Bloechl, Germany, 21.86
16. Vladimir Tiumentsev, Russia, 1.56

Women
1. Kari Traa, Norway, 27.99
2. Michelle Roark, Denver, 27.13
3. Stephanie St. Pierre, Canada, 26.46
4. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, CA, 26.12
5. Ingrid Berntsen, Norway, 25.42
6. Elisa Kurylowicz, Canada, 24.94
7. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic, 24.57
8. Kristi Richards, Canada, 23.70
9. Tami Bradley, Canada, 23.66
10. Sandra Laoura, France, 22.86
11. Jane Sexton, Australia, 22.78
12. Emiko Torito, Englewood, CO, 20.04
13. Daria Serova, Russia, 16.60
14.-16. Aiko Uemura, Tae Satoya, Miyuki Hatanaka, all Japan - all Run not scored

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