The United States freestyle ski team couldn’t wait for mogul skier Hannah Kearney to get healthy and re-join the team on the World Cup tour. She did last Thursday (Jan. 17), and didn’t disappoint at Whiteface Mountain, N.Y. 10 miles from Lake Placid.
After missing the early season competitions with injuries suffered in a fall training spill in Zermatt, Switzerland, the 2010 Olympic champion from Norwich, Vt. won the USANA US Freestyle Cup. The victory came on Whiteface’s Wilderness trail for Kearney, who at one point won 15 straight World Cup events surpassing the FIS mark previously held by the legendary alpine skier Ingemar Stenmark.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better first competition back,” said Kearney. “My family and my best friend were here cheering me on. The support I’ve got here in Lake Placid made it a great day to redeem myself in my first competition back.”
But Kearney wasn’t the lone American to land on the podium over the three-day series. The men’s mogul event, also on Thursday, saw Canadian Mikael Kingsbury bump his way to the top rung, with Patrick Deneen, of Cle Elum, Wash. and Dylan Walcyzk, of Vail, Colo. finishing second and third, respectively. Walcyzk took advantage of a teammate’s decision to skip the Whiteface competition. He was informed by his coaches of this last minute development with less than a week to the event.
After a day at the 1980 Olympic mountain, the freestyle crowd moved over to Lake Placid’s Olympic Jumping Complex for aerials under the lights on Friday and Saturday nights. In this discipline, the world’s high fliers have their hands full with the Chinese delegation which has used its gymnastics program to fill its aerial skiing roster.
The concept of bringing elements of a summer sport to help a winter sport is proving dominant. In Lake Placid, Chinese skiers won all four aerial events, including a men’s sweep of the doubleheader by Zongyang Jia.
Yet, the United States managed to squeeze Emily Cook onto the ladies podium on the first evening as China finished 1-2-4. In addition several of Cook’s teammates managed personal bests.
The 2010 Olympian took third place behind winner Mengtao Xu and second place Yu Yang, with Yang winning on Saturday night prior to the closing fireworks display.Cook thrilled the huddled masses on a frosty night with three scintillating jumps.
“I’m really happy to be on the podium again and even more so because it’s here in Lake Placid,” said the Belmont, Mass. skier. “The incredible support structure that we have here makes it feel like home. And to have such a big team here and such a young team cheering me on shows the depth and future of our sport.”On the men’s side, Mike Rossi, of Long Valley, N.J. and Madison Olsen, of Park City, Utah had World Cup bests, finishing eighth and ninth, respectively.
Before the series ended, Kiley McKinnon and Nevin Brown set career marks. Brown, of Streetsboro, Ohio, was seventh among the men, while McKinnon, of Madison, Conn. took 10th in the ladies field.
Top Photo: Aerial freestyle at Lake Placid. (Sarah Brunson / USSA); Left Photo: Hannah Keaney at Lake Placid