Apex moguls: Heil, Begg-Smith win; Bahrke 2nd
WITH JUST A STOP in Norway before the freestyle World Championships begin, the Canadians took advantage of home snow, gaining maximum points from the moguls competition at the the Canada Post Freestyle Grand Prix at Apex Resort near Penticton, British Columbia, on Saturday.
Jennifer Heil, the Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Cup moguls champion, made it four in a row with the women’s win and cannot be beaten for her fourth straight World Cup title. Her top competitor, American Shannon Bahrke, was second. The Canadians were exceptionally strong, with five skiers making the final dozen for finals. Kristi Richards took the No. 3 spot, Stephanie St. Pierre was fourth, Sylvia Kerfoot ninth and Marie-Josie Lessard 12th. Behind Bahrke in second, the U.S. team also had Shelly Robertson in fifth, Heather McPhie 10th and Jillian Vogtli 11th.
With fresh snow dusting the course, competitors saw some of the best conditions they've had all season. Heil said it was her jumps which won the event. "My jumps were big, probably the biggest of the year," she told Canadian Press.
In the men’s competition, Olympic gold medalist Dale Begg-Smith of Australia by way of Canada made it two in a row and three of the last four with his win. Begg-Smith narrowly outpointed Alexandre Bilodeau 24.71 to 23.33 as the Canadian led a men’s hometown charge that included Maxime Gingras in third and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau in fifth. The American men were led by tour rookie Jay Bowman-Kirigin in sixth place with a career-high point total of 26.71. Nate Roberts finished 12th, the last of the qualifiers for finals.
"Everything was there for us to perform," said Bilodeau, known for his risky twisting inverted jump in the moguls. "I just did the run of my life and no mistakes." He was a few tenths shy of his best jump score.
What was difficult was making up for any slight miscalculation. "We saw a lot of good skiing," said U.S. head mogus coach Scott Rawles. "The snow made it a soft course, and it's an easy course. It's not steep, the transitions into the jumps are long and so we saw a lot of good scores. But while it's easy, there's not much room if you make a mistake to recover. There's no room for error. Jay did a great job with his 1080 and Nate probably had the biggest jump of the day on his bottom 'air' and if he'd been a foot to the left he would've stuck it."
With the win, Begg-Smith clinched his second straight World Cup moguls title.