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Deer Valley moguls: Canadian Richards, Frenchman Colas rule dual moguls

Canadian Kristi Richards and France’s Guilbaut Colas won FIS World Cup dual moguls Saturday on the 2002 Olympic hill, wrapping up a frigid but entertaining Chevrolet Freestyle International event.
DEER VALLEY, Utah — Canadian Kristi Richards and France’s Guilbaut Colas won FIS World Cup dual moguls Saturday on the 2002 Olympic hill, wrapping up a frigid but entertaining Chevrolet Freestyle International event. Canadians took four of six podium placings to dominate the evening.
    American Hannah Kearney won her consolation run to reach the podium in third place for the women, while Nate Roberts — winner of Thursday’s singles competition on the same hill — was beaten in the quarterfinals.
    Richards upended 2006 Olympic gold medalist — and teammate — Jennifer Heil for the victory, while Colas was flawless on his final run to nab first ahead of Canadian Vincent Marquis and seize the overall standings lead.
   “I had great training and I was just consistent all night,” Richards said. “What I tried to do was keep skiing that same run. I had no idea that Jen fell so I just kept skiing. This is such a great night.
    “In duals you don’t have the same time to prepare at the top and do all the visualization and stuff you normally do, so it’s kind of a go-go-go situation and you have to be on top of it. I try to be very calm and just keep my sight set on that run.”
      Richards, 25, had placed second in qualifying earlier Saturday behind Heil. Richards had just one previous World Cup podium, a second place at Oberstdorf, Germany, in December 2005. But last March, she took gold in duals and silver in singles at the 2006 Canadian national championships. She also won a NorAm Cup event at Apex in 2003.
    “I love this course. It’s a skier’s course,” Richards said. “You have to be strong technically and physically just to get down this thing. It’s the longest course on tour, one of the steepest — those airs are challenging.
    “I feel so excited to win here. My parents flew down from Canada, and it’s just so great. I’m almost in tears.”
    Nine Americans earned spots in the round of 16, and five of them finished in the top 10 in front a large crowd undeterred by temperatures hovering around the not-made-for-humans mark (reports varied from minus-9 to minus-18 Fahrenheit). Shannon Bahrke, who entered the event atop the World Cup moguls standings, finished fifth to hold that position, one better than teammate Michelle Roark. McKenzy Golding was eighth, Jillian Vogtli 10th, Shelly Robertson 11th, Kayla Snyderman 12th, Heather McPhie 15th, Emiko Torito 16th and Eliza Outtrim 17th.
    “To get third place in duals definitely means you’re consistent,” Kearney said. “I think I was skiing really consistently and that means a lot to me because last season was so up and down. So this is a good start.
    Kearney's top three was the sixth podium — including four wins — by U.S. skiers in three days and nights of moguls, aerials and duals action.
    “It was nice to see our [moguls] team has some serious depth,” Kearney said. “We had nine women in the finals, which is unheard of. That’s an incredible feat for our team."
    “It was really fun,” Snyderman said after scoring two 12th-place finishes this week for her best career showings. She was eliminated Saturday night by Kearney, her former Waterville Valley teammate. “I had never competed against her in duals in comps, maybe in practice,” Snyderman said. “Hannah’s a great skier, and I was trying to battle her the best that I can. … I drifted pretty far left on my bottom air a little bit.
    “Duals is my favorite event. It brings out everyone’s competitiveness and usually I ski better in duals than in singles, because I get excited about it.”
First win for Colas
    Colas, 23, earned his first career World Cup win and his fourth podium. He had been second twice, including last weekend at Mont Gabriel, Quebec. His rèsumè includes a Europa Cup win (2001) and two lower-level FIS wins (2004).
    “It’s a very good night,” Colas said. “I win and Pierre [Ochs] finished in fourth place. We had four French guys in the final and I’m very happy. It’s a dream.”
    Defending Olympic champion Dale Begg-Smith dominated the men's qualifying run and looked like a sure podium bet, but he struggled in the knockout round and left empty-handed after a quarterfinal-round defeat.
    Canadian Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau took third just behind Marquis to secure the Canadians' huge showing.
    “It’s amazing, like a dream tonight. It’s my first medal on the World Cup, so it’s hard to realize it right now,” said Marquis, who hails from Quebec. “I finish sixth two years ago in Tremblant, so tonight is my best result."
    Begg-Smith finished fifth followed by Roberts in sixth. Other American men were David Babic in ninth, David DiGravio in 11th, Jay Bowman-Kirigin in 20th, Landon Gardner in 23rd, Michael Morse in 25th, Sho Kashima in 29th and Tim Preston was 48th.
    In the quarters, Roberts carried a lot of speed through the upper half of the course and lost some control after completing the first kicker. He veered way outside his line, nearly hitting the fence lining the course, but recovered just in time to make the second kicker. After landing, Roberts turned up the speed and passed Ochs in the final section of the course, crossing the finish line first. However, he fell to Ochs by one point in the judges’ final point tally.
    He also lost the leader’s bib in the World Cup standings to Saturday night’s winner, Colas.
    “It was tough, it’s fast and these guys are the best in the world,” Roberts said. “I was just trying to give it my best and it just wasn’t my night.
    “I never give up, but I came up a point short. But I expect more out of myself and it just didn’t happen.”
    Babic got off-balance right before the second jump in his round-of-16 loss to Silvan Palazot, but tried to nail his jump nonetheless. “I was trying to do an off-axis 7, and it turned into more of a back-full, onto my back,” Babic said. “I think a back-one-and-a-half is what I did. … I actually saved myself — I took it to my back instead of my head. To me that’s a good thing, because you don’t want to land on your head.”
    MORE ON MOGULS: How about that weather? Frigid temperatures continued into the night (-10 F), and was on everyone’s mind, including Hannah Kearney (“I’m from Vermont, this is paradise”) and Dale Begg-Smith (“Actually, my toes are pretty cold”) … Alexandre Bilodeau broke a ski behind the binding in a large crash during the first round of Finals… The Wailers played a concert upon the completion of the competition … Deer Valley ski patroller Todd Campbell proposed to his girlfriend over the PA before the start of the event.

— Sam Flickinger and Eric McCollom contributed to this report

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