FILE UNDER -- Freestyle

JISAN: Kearney, Digravio podium; Begg-Smith wins moguls title

JISAN: Kearney, Digravio podium; Begg-Smith wins moguls title{mosimage}JISAN FOREST, South Korea – World champion Hannah Kearney finished third and World Cup rookie David Digravio reached his first podium Wednesday as the World Cup moguls schedule resumed after the Olympics.

Olympic champions and current World Cup leaders Jennifer Heil of Canada and Australian Dale Begg-Smith each won their competition. Heil had 27.45 points while 2002 Olympic gold medalist Kari Traa of Norway (26.93) was second. Kearney, gold medalist at the World Championships last March in Finland, scored 26.33 for third.

Two other U.S. women finished in the top 10 with Jillian Vogtli ninth and Michelle Roark 10th.

Begg-Smith clinched the World Cup title with his victory, his fifth of the season. He had 26.55 points to edge Guilbaut Colas of France (25.44). Digravio was not far behind, finishing third at 26.25 and David Babic took fourth place with 25.91.

‘This isn’t an easy course — it’s straight, pretty easy and you have to be on your game because there’s no room to make up for any mistakes. So, it was a little bit of a Cinderella story for Digravio’ U.S. coach Donnie St. Pierre said, ‘and a nice reward for his hard work this season. And for the other David; he was disappointed about missing the Olympic team, of course, but Babic also laid down a nice run in finals and wasn’t far off the podium.

‘And Hannah got back on the horse after her frustrations at the Olympics, leading three Americans into the top 10. She’s not done yet this season.’

‘It was wonderful. I felt like I won, even though I was third’ said Kearney, who returned home from Torino for about a week of relaxation and to catch an early celebration for her 20th birthday, which came Sunday. She threw a back flip off the top jump and a helicopter (360-degree rotation) at the bottom of her run.

She was particularly pleased because she has been working on a new technique on her back flip, keeping her hands more forward on takeoff.

‘This was a big breakthrough because I’ve struggled with the new technique. This is only my second competition with the different takeoff’ she said.

The World Cup moguls schedule heads next to Inawashiro, Japan, for another competition Sunday. The season concludes March 19 in Canada during World Cup Finals at Apex, B.C. The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships are scheduled for March 23-26 at Killington, Vt.

According to The Associated Press, American Toby Dawson, the Torino Games bronze medal-winner, pulled out of South Korea’s first FIS-sanctioned World Cup event due to the pressures associated with media coverage of his search for his Korean biological parents. Dawson, who is adopted and lives in Vail, Colorado, was born in the southeastern port city of Busan.

– USSA/The Associated Press

Freestyle World Cup results
Jisan Forest Resort, Korea – March 1, 2006
Moguls (16 make finals)

1. Dale Begg-Smith, Austrialia, 26.55 points
2. Gilbaut Colas, France, 26.44
3. David Digravio, Farmington, Maine, 26.25
4. David Babic, Washington, Vt., 25.91
5. (tie) Sami Mustonen, Finland, and Pierre Ochs, France, 25.79 each
6. Pierre Ochs, France, 25.79.
7. Per Spett, Sweden, 24.95.
8. Vitaly Glushchenko, Russia, 24.93.
9. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, Canada, 24.83.
10. Juuso Lahtela, Finland, 24.55.

World Cup moguls standings (after 9 of 11 events)
1. Dale Begg-Smith, Australia, 685 points.
2. Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada, 451.
3. Sami Mustonen, Finland, 378.
4. Toby Dawson, United States, 294.
5. Nathan Roberts, United States, 282.Also
28. Tim Preston, Campton, N.H.

1. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 27.45
2. Kari Traa, Norway, 26.93
3. Hannah Kearney, Norwich, Vt., 26.33
4. Stephanie St. Pierre, Canada, 25.51
5. Helena Soduva, Czech Republic, 25.28
6. Sara Kjellin, Sweden, 25.21.
7. Sandra Laoura, France, 24.96.
8. Ingrid Berntsen, Norway, 24.89.
9. Jillian Vogtli, United States, 24.88.
10. Michelle Roark, United States, 24.70.

World Cup moguls standings (after 9 of 11 events)
1. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 649 points.
2. Kari Traa, Norway, 533.
3. Michelle Roarke, United States 442.
4. Stephanie St. Pierre, Canada 357.
5. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic, 349.
9. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y., 24.88
10. Michelle Roark, Denver, 24.70
13. Shelly Robertson, Reno, Nev., 24.17
15. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif., 23.77
21. Emiko Torito, Denver
24. Eliza Outtrim, Hamden, Conn.

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