Voss moguls: Babic scores first podium since 2004
VOSS, Norway — Olympic champions Dale Begg-Smith of Australia and Jennifer Heil of Canada won the last World Cup moguls races of the season on Saturday.
In the men's event, Sami Mustonen of Finland was second and David Babic of the United States third. It was Babic's first podium finish since 2004.
It was the fourth straight win in moguls or dual moguls for Begg-Smith. He topped the final standings 288 points ahead of runner-up Guilbault Colas of France. Alexandre Bilodeau of Canada was third overall, followed by defending world moguls champion Nate Roberts of the United States.
Roberts finished 12th Saturday, while teammate Dave DiGravio was eighth.
Heil won her sixth consecutive race and also finished 288 points ahead of American skier Shannon Bahrke. Margareta Marbler of Austria took third overall after back-to-back runner-up finishes in Voss. Americans Shelly Robertson and Jillian Vogtli finished sixth and ninth, respectively.
Babic, of Washington, Vermont, stuck the landing on two jumps and overcame a steep course with "sugar slush" Saturday. Babic was 12th in the qualifying round but clicked on a back flip iron cross at the tricky, steep top jump and an off-axis 720 spin (double rotation) at the bottom of the course.
"You know Babic had a great run when he qualifies 12th and then moves up to the podium in finals," U.S. head coach Scott Rawles said. "It was awesome, and he just nailed the run, nailed the jumps and got it done. Dave's a strong finisher to every season and he's doing it again ... and with worlds next week, he could be a real contender.
"This is a tough course in a lot of ways. It got cold last night and the snow froze," Rawles said, "but as the day warmed up it became sugar slush [soft, wet, treacherous] ...
"It's steep and challenging and, frankly, it's not the kind of course we don't see very often so, in a way, it's a little refreshing to get a challenging course like this," Rawles said. Bahrke's second run was solid "and it's been an outstanding season for her, second in the moguls standings and two wins. It's been a good season. And Shelly Robertson was sixth again and she continues to do well."
The World Championships, originally scheduled for January at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, but postponed because of a lack of snow, begin Tuesday with skiercross and, after two days off (one because the ski halfpipe event was canceled for logistical reasons), moguls Friday.
FREESTYLE WORLD CUP
Voss, Norway - March 3, 2007
(Picked up from Spindleruv Mlyn)
Men's moguls (16 makes finals)
1. Dale Begg-Smith, Australia, 25.67
2. Sami Mustonen, Finland, 25.50
3. Dave Babic, Washington, Vt., 24.82
4. Anthony Benna, France, 24.16
5. Kai Ozaki, Japan, 24.03
8. David Digravio, Farmington, Maine, 23.56
12. Nate Roberts, Park City, Utah, 18.00
14. Sho Kashima, Zephyr Cove, Nev., 11.86
22. Jay Bowman-Kirigin, Salt Lake City
44. Bryon Wilson, South Taylorville, Utah
Women's moguls (12 make finals)
1. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 25.34
2. Margarita Marbler, Austria, 23.79
3. Kristi Richards, Canada, 23.71
4. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif., 23.35
5. Ingrid Berntsen, Norway, 23.16
6. Shelly Robertson, Reno, Nev., 22.56
9. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y., 17.55
13. mcKenzy Golding, Reno, Nev.
18. Heather McPhie, Bozeman, Mont.
23. Michelle Roark, Winter Park, Colo.
Click here for complete results.