Hannah Bids Farewell to Champion
PARK CITY, UT (Jan. 10, 2015) - Thirteen years after a teenaged Hannah Kearney (Norwich, VT) first met the Champion moguls run as a forerunner at the 2002 Olympics, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist bid farewell to the course that helped define her career. Kearney finished second after a hard-fought battle with Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada in a FIS dual moguls World Cup. Dylan Walczyk (Vail, CO) took World Cup leader Mikal Kingsbury of Canada down to the wire, but finished second. 10,000 fans were on hand at Deer Valley for the competition.
With seven wins and now 14 podiums on Champion, Kearney leaves Deer Valley as the undisputed queen of the moguls in her final season. After a mistake on the top air in Friday's individual moguls kept her out of the big show, Kearney came back with a vengeance Saturday night to rocket into the finals, setting up a matchup with Justine Dufour-Lapointe. Kearney skied a strong run but never really found the line she wanted, skiing just a step behind Dufour-Lapointe, who took over the World Cup lead from sister Chloe who went out in the first round.
Ever the perfectionist, Kearney was disappointed with her top air exit in finals and not getting her feet closer together on the bottom. Still, she was happy to get five runs on Champion after going out in qualifications on Friday. It was a bittersweet ending for her, skiing Champion for the final time in her farewell World Cup season.
"At the 2002 Olympics, I got to forerun," she said. "It was the first time I had even seen an international competition, let alone skied in one. I got to see Kari Traa (Norway) win a gold medal, went home and I thought “I can do this.” So I went home, learned a helicopter, and made the U.S. Ski Team about two and a half weeks later at Junior Worlds and set the whole tone for my career."
Walcyzk lit up the venue with his skiing round after round, finding himself up against one of his sport's greatest stars, Kingsbury, in the finals.
"For the most part I was trying not to think about the guy next to me. It’s tough out here and it’s fun," said Walczyk. "And I like that. I’ve been dreaming about it [dualing against Kingsbury] and waiting for that final dual. I’m a little disappointed with the way it turned out, but I’ll come back and get him next time."
The team now heads for World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria.
- Hannah Kearney and Dylan Walczyk each finished second to lead the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team in the Visa Freestyle International dual moguls.
- The U.S. men took five of the top nine spots with Patrick Deneen (Cle Elum, WA) fourth, Troy Murphy (Bethel, ME) seventh, Jeremy Cota (Carrabassett Valley, ME) eighth and Thomas Rowley (Telluride, CO) ninth.
- K.C. Oakley (Piedmont, CA) finished ninth after taking a career first win in individual moguls Friday.
- The USA leaves Deer Valley Resort with seven podiums over the three-event weekend.
- Olympic medalist Bryon Wilson crashed hard in the round of 32. According to U.S. Ski Team Medical Director Kyle Wilkens, Wilson suffered a broken rib and partially collapsed lung. He was treated and released from the Park City Medical Center. A determination on his ability to compete in the World Championships has not been finalized.
- The Team now leaves for World Championships beginning with aerials finals Thursday in Kreischberg, Austria.
For me it’s all about the skiing. In my final run, I have several things I’d like to improve upon. It’s less about losing and more about the fact that I wish I would have had a cleaner exit on the top air and landed with my feet squeezed on the bottom air. It sounds like I spun through my mute grab. But, that’s what singles are for, improving those technical things. Yesterday I would have just been happy to ski under the lights, and today I got to ski five runs under the lights here at Deer Valley, so that’s a nice way to end my career on Champion.
It was disappointing yesterday to just make a flukey, unlucky mistake. So to ski five runs under the lights on such a challenging course gives me confidence. But I hear it’s a completely different style of course (at World Championships), so I’m just excited for an event where you kind of let loose because it doesn’t count towards the overall World Cup standings. It’s an event I’m looking forward to representing my country at.
At the 2002 Olympics, I got to forerun. It was the first time I had even seen an international competition, let alone skied in one. I got to see Kari Traa (Norway) win a gold medal, went home and I thought “I can do this.” So I went home, learned a helicopter, and made the U.S. Ski Team about two and a half weeks later at Junior Worlds and set the whole tone for my career.
For the most part I was trying not to think about the guy next to me. It’s tough out here and it’s fun. And I like that. I’ve been dreaming about it [dualing against Kingsbury] and waiting for that final dual. I’m a little disappointed with the way it turned out, but I’ll come back and get him next time.