U.S. skiers Babic, Kearney win World Cup mogul events in Switzerland{mosimage}USSA — Vermonters David Babic and Hannah Kearney landed big jumps and won World Cup moguls contests Sunday in Airolo, Switzerland. It’s Babic’s first victory and Kearney’s second.

The event was postponed a day because of fog; organizers replaced the scheduled dual moguls event with singles after fog Saturday didn’t allow any competition.

Babic received 26.45 points for his win. He clicked off the first jump with his own variation on an off-axis move, his “720-sushi roll,” an off-axis, double rotation with a mute grab, and hit a D-spin with an iron cross, another off-axis, double-spin move with his skis in an X, off the bottom jump. Second place went to Canadian Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau (26.19) with World Cup leader and Olympic champion Janne Lahtela of Finland third (26.15).

“I was concerned about today because of [Saturday’s] fog but it all came together. It was frustrating sitting in that fog all day and not getting the opportunity to compete … but then they decided to make this singles, which worked out great,” Babic said. “I’ve been working on that ‘sushi roll’ all season and I threw it off the top jump. I really held on to it. This isn’t the most difficult course but they built a good table for the jumps, so … we could go big.”

Four other U.S. skiers reached finals. Nate Roberts was fourth at 25.97 with Tim Preston posting his best World Cup finish in sixth place, Travis Cabral ninth and Toby Dawson 12th.

It’s the fifth consecutive moguls win by an American man and Babic becomes the fifth U.S. male to win a World Cup this season. Dawson has three wins (and is second in the standings behind Lahtela) while Roberts, Cabral and Jeremy Bloom have one victory apiece this winter.

Kearney, an honor roll student who had won in Naeba, Japan, leading a 1-3-4-5-6 U.S. showing, led in qualifying. She unleashed a huge second jump in finals and won with 26.80 points to 25.72 for Austrian Margarita Marbler. The win moved Kearney into fourth place in the moguls standings. Three other U.S. women reached finals — Jillian Vogtli finished fourth, Emiko Torito sixth and Michelle Roark eighth.

“I think qualifying first helped me,” Kearney said. “We had plenty of soft snow and it’s a flat course, so they made big jumps. I was told my second ‘air’ made the difference. I did my usual, the heli-cross [360-spin with skis in an X] off the first jump and heli off the bottom, and I went really big on the bottom and landed it.

“I can get used to this,” she said, referring to her victory. “[Saturday] we sat in the lodge for six hours but today was beautiful … definitely worth the wait.”

Head coach Jeff Wintersteen said the victories “were outstanding. Hannah and Dave skied so well … and so did the rest. But it was disappointing that Toby couldn’t have closed a little on Janne in the points; he was going for it — he floored it, but it didn’t work.”

World Cup Finals — featuring the top 12 moguls skiers in points and top 10 in aerials — begin Wednesday with the aerials in Sestriere, Italy. Moguls will be March 14. The U.S. Ski Team qualified six men and six women for Finals: Dawson, Bloom, Cabral, Roberts, Babic and Luke Westerlund for the men, and Kearney, Shannon Bahrke, Vogtli, Roark, Torito and Laurel Shanley for the women.

Bahrke is sidelined with a broken jaw suffered in Japan, Bloom will miss World Cup Finals after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to ease pain that troubled him last season and again this winter, and Westerlund is expected to miss the Finals after dislocating his left shoulder in Japan.

Freestyle World Cup
Airolo, Switzerland
March 7, 2004
Men’s Moguls (12 make finals)

1. David Babic, Washington, Vt., 26.45
2. P-A Rousseau, Canada, 26.19
3. Janne Lahtela, Finland, 26.15
4. Nate Roberts, Park City, Utah, 25.97
5. Marc-Andre Moreau, 25.57
6. Tim Preston, Campton, N.H., 25.17
9. Travis Cabral, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., 24.71
12. Toby Dawson, Vail, Colo., 21.38

1. Hannah Kearney, Norwich, Vt., 26.80
2. Margarita Marbler, Austria, 25.72
3. Jennifer Heil, Canada, 25.54
4. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y., 24.78
5. Kari Traa, Norway, 24.71
6. Emiko Torito, Denver, 24.59
8. Michelle Roark, Denver, 23.29

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