Dawson and U.S. dazzle and dominate
NAEBA, Japan – Local mogul maestro Toby Dawson collected his third moguls victory in five meets and led a history-making 1-2-3-4-7-9-10 showing by U.S. men in World Cup action Sunday, while 17-year-old Hannah Kearney, Norwich, Vt., registered her first win and led United States women into five of the first six places as the World Cup ended its annual Far East swing in sunshine and 50-degree weather.
In picking up the fifth win of his career, Dawson was followed by defending World Cup moguls champion Travis Cabral of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., in second place, Jeremy Bloom of Loveland took third and Dave Babic of Washington, Vt., placed fourth with Nate Roberts of Park City, Utah, placed seventh, Ryan Riley of Steamboat Springs was ninth and Luke Westerlund of Breckenridge placed 10th. Westerlund dislocated his left shoulder when he planted his ski pole too firmly in the snow on his bottom jump and pulled his shoulder; he was being treated by a Ski Team doctor and will be further examined this week when the team returns briefly to the United States before heading on to Europe for the final meets of the winter.
Kearney turns 18 on Thursday and finished Hanover, N.H., High School a month ago although she still has to go through graduation ceremonies. She was followed by Laurel Shanley of Squaw Valley, Calif., in third place with Michelle Roark of Denver in fourth, Jillian Vogtli of Ellicotville, N.Y., in fifth and Emiko Torito of Denver placed sixth. Shelly Robertson of Reno, Nev., took 14th in front of about 5,000 wildly cheering spectators.
“It was quite a day,” said head coach Donnie St. Pierre. “The crowd was huge and so were our athletes. This is one for the books. I’ve waited more than 10 years for this day.”
“Oh my gosh, this is unbelievable,” said Dawson, who had won at Deer Valley, Utah, and Inawashiro, Japan, over the previous three weeks. “Every guy making finals; we all train so hard together, pushing each other, and this has taken so long … and it’s just so nice to have all your teammates up on the podium,”
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Dawson landed a cork-7, iron cross (off-axis with his skis in an X) and a heli-iron cross (360-degree rotation with his skis in an X).
“At the top, I heard Jeremy was in second and Travis leading, Dave in third, so I had no pressure. No matter what I did,” he said, “I knew we’d swept the podium. It would be a different story if I’d come down third and knocked a teammate off the podium but we’d already swept, so I just skied my run.”
“It was tough in that the snow was really heavy, but it almost made it easier because it kinda disguised any mistakes. The snow was pretty forgiving,” said Kearney. “It’s cool I could win a World Cup before I turn 18.”
-Shanley was pleased with her first podium of the season and said the sunshine and warmth made the contest feel “more like nationals … spring-like conditions, super-soft snow.” Grabbing a top-3, she said, “will help me relax a little more in these last contests.”
Coach Liz McIntyre, a World Cup winner and 1994 Olympic silver medalist before turning to coaching with the 1999 season, said the podium sweep was a goal she and St. Pierre have had for several years. “We wanted to get everyone into finals at some points – and we had all the guys in Inawashiro a couple of years ago. So, now we’ve kicked over the goal of a podium sweep. This is pretty special.”
The U.S. skiers headed back to the United States after the event, and will travel to Europe for the final round of events Sunday in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic.