Defending Olympic champion Hannah Kearney took her second victory of the week in front of the huge crowd Saturday at the Visa Freestyle International FIS World Cup at Deer Valley, giving her six-straight victories on the 2002 Olympic venue.
Kearney’s near-flawless run forced Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan into second and an ecstatic Maxime Dufour-Lapointe into third with her career first podium.
“That felt really good,” said Kearney. “That felt like a prettier run than my one two nights ago. I tried to find the balance of speed, but also control, and that felt much cleaner. This just gives me momentum and I want to go compete again right now.
“You can see, feel and hear the crowd. I used it. At practice I thought there’s a chance this is a larger crowd than we’ll have at the Olympics, and there’s certainly more people cheering for me than there are going to be at the Olympics. So I used it and tried to put on a show.”
Five U.S. women made the top nine Saturday with seven moving onto finals and four making the superfinals. Eliza Outtrim took her season best result in fourth and Heidi Kloser finished fifth. Sophia Schwartz skied in her first two World Cups this weekend, finishing seventh in each. And Ali Kariotis made finals both days this weekend, finishing a career best ninth on Saturday.
“Today was unusual. There were some people missing from superfinals, and even finals, that you would usually see,” said Kearney. “Aiko (Iwamoto) fell, Heather (McPhie) fell, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe fell. So, it had a different feel, but that’s a testament to how deep the field is, that there’s still that many good skiers coming down despite some of the strongest falling.”
In the men’s event, Canadian skier Alex Bilodeau overtook teammate and World Cup leader Mikael Kingsbury for the victory. Alexandr Smyshlyaev of Russia took the third spot while crowd favorite Pat Deneen finished fourth, the top finish for the USA.
Sho Kashima advanced to superfinal, but he lost control for just a second before the bottom air and finished sixth.
“There’s a lot of fitness involved in competing in multiple World Cups in a week,” said Kashima. “We have a really tight schedule. Including tonight we have three events in a week. It’s all about recovery and trying to stay on top of fitness. Hopefully I can bust out some tougher jumps next week and the week after that. With this course being so challenging I kind of struggled off the bottom air all week so I held back a little bit.”
NBC will air coverage of Saturday night’s competition on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.
The moguls team heads to Lake Placid Jan. 15 for the USANA Freestyle Cup.