Babic, Kearney Sweep Airolo Moguls
AIROLO, Switzerland – Vermonters David Babic of Washington, Vt., and Hannah Kearney of Norwich, Vt., landed big jumps and won World Cup moguls contests Sunday. It was Babic’s first victory and Kearney’s second.
The contest 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 formed 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 of Park City, Utah, was fourth at 25.97 with Tim Preston of Campton, N.H., posting his best World Cup finish in sixth place, Travis Cabral of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., ninth and local Toby Dawson of Vail 12th.
It’s the fifth consecutive moguls win by a American man and Babic becomes the fifth U.S. man 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 of Loveland have one victory apiece this winter.
A huge second jump clinched it for Kearney, an Honor Roll student who had won in Naeba, Japan, in leading a 1-3-4-5-6 U.S. showing, led qualifying. She unleashed a huge second jump and won with 26.80 points to 25.72 for Austrian Margarita Marbler; it moved Kearney into fourth place in the moguls points. Three other U.S. women reached finals – Jillian Vogtli of Ellicotville, N.Y., in fourth place, Emiko Torito of Denver in sixth and Michelle Roark of Denver in 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. “We sat in the lodge (Saturday) 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 – top 12 moguls skiers in points and top 10 in aerials – begin Wednesday with 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 of Breckenridge for the men, and Kearney, Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City, Calif., Vogtli,-Roark, Torito and Laurel Shanley of Squaw Valley, Calif. 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 remove pain which has been troubling him last season and again this winter and Westerlund is expected to miss Sestriere’s last event after dislocating his left shoulder in Japan.