La Plagne moguls: Kashima, Bahrke lead U.S.
LA PLAGNE, France — World Cup leader Shannon Bahrke finished fifth Monday in a moguls event and held onto her points lead while World Cup rookie Sho Kashima posted the best result of his young career, placing fourth in the men's contest. Four U.S. men and five women qualified for finals (i.e., top 16).
Sami Mustonen of Finland won the men's event with 27.11 points while Kashima had the fastest time (20.08 seconds), which is worth 25 percent of a skier's score, and finished with 26.58. In his three moguls events, Kashima has improved from 12th (Mont Gabriel, Quebec) to sixth (Deer Valley) to fourth.
In addition, Jay Bowman-Kirigin finished ninth with David Digravio 10th and Dave Babic 12th. Olympic and defending World Cup moguls champion Jennifer Heil of Canada took her first victory of the season, winning with 26.83 to 26.53 for Italy's Deborah Scanzio. Bahrke, the 2002 Olympic silver medalist and '03 World Cup champion, had 25.76 with two-time Olympian Jillian Vogtli seventh at 25.05.
In addition, Shelly Robertson was ninth, Heather McPhie 11th, and defending world champion Hannah Kearney 16th after not taking a final run. She injured a knee in training before finals and elected not to ski, coach Scott Rawles said.
After four World Cup events, Bahrke — who won the first two contests of the season — has 290 points to 284 for Heil. Kearney is fifth with McPhie eighth, Robertson ninth and Michelle Roark 10th. Monday's contest was a makeup for a moguls event lost in Tignes in mid-December; Tuesday's dual moguls event, with finals at night, is one postponed from mid-December in La Plagne.
"Sho almost broke the 20-second barrier, which was incredible," Rawles said. "Then Jay was ninth and Digravio 10th ... three 19- or 20-year-olds and they're all top 10, not bad at all. Obviously, they skied well ... and Babic landed his off-axis 1080, but starting first for the day and then second in finals, he had to be absolutely perfect to move up much more. I'm psyched about what the guys did.
"And Jillian landed her [off-axis, double spin] cork-7 and skied out of it, which was outstanding. The bumps were hard today, but they've done a great job getting the course ready; by holding these two events they save one-quarter of our season," according to Rawles.
The two contests in La Plagne are the first World Cup moguls action since Jan. 13 at Deer Valley Resort in Utah. "It's good to be skiing again," Rawles said. "We had just one day of training since they added this event, but no one's complaining. We all want to be competing ... and we're appreciative of La Plagne has done to hold these events."
After the duals event, the U.S. team returns to the USA for down time before heading to Japan for two contests.
FREESTYLE WORLD CUP
LaPlagne, France — Feb. 5, 2007
Men's moguls (Makeup from Tignes, France)
(16 make finals)
1. Sami Mustonen, Finland, 27.11 points
2. Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada, 26.75
3. Dale Begg-Smith, Australia, 26.69
4. Sho Kashima, Zephyr Cove, Nev., 26.58
5. Guilbaut Colas, France, 26.57
9. Jay Bowman-Kirigin, Salt Lake City, 25.74
10. David Digravio, Farmington, Maine, 25.58
12. Dave Babic, Washington, Vt., 25.30
40. Nate Roberts, Park City, Utah
1. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 26.83
2. Deborah Scanzio, Italy, 26.53
3. Margarita Marbler, Austria, 26.52
4. Kristi Richards, Canada, 25.81
5. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif., 25.76
7. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y., 25.05
9. Shelly Robertson, Reno, Nev., 24.58
11. Heather McPhie, Bozeman, Mont., 24.02
16. Hannah kearney, Norwich, Vt. (did not ski final run)
20. Michelle Roark, Denver
22. McKenzy Golding, Reno, Nev.