Photo: U.S. Ski Team - Tom Kelly
LA PLAGNE, France (March 18) - The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team's Hannah Kearney (Norwich VT) finished ninth March 18 to solidify her spot as the 2009 World Cup moguls champion. Emiko Torito (Denver, CO) and Michael Morse (Duxbury, MA) each finished sixth to lead the U.S. Team.
"I haven't wanted anything as much as I have wanted this in a long time. It just felt great," Kearney said. "Overall it was a glorious moment - one of the best moments of my skiing career so far."
Kearney, who also finished second in the overall standings, just five points off Ophelie David's 76, was on the World Cup podium six times in 2009, three of which were wins.
"Winning the globe is the best accomplishment you can get as a moguls skier. To win the globe takes so much work," Kearney said. "Since I've started skiing World Cup it's been a goal of mine."
According to Kearney, while her season may have been a success, it has taken a long time for her to reach the top.
"This is my seventh year on the U.S. Ski Team and it took that long to get here. The best I've finished prior to this season was fourth overall, which was my first year on the World Cup in 2004," Kearney said. "So, it's sort of been a long battle, but when you want something that badly it feels good to work for it and come out on top."
With the title globe now in hand, Kearney says she feels strong as she looks ahead.
"I think I'm happy with my confidence. Having the globe puts you in a good place and I'll take that into my training for next season," Kearney said.
For the new champ, training means going above and beyond what it took to get her to the 2009 title.
"It's not going to leave me complacent. I'm going to take this confidence and bring that into next year, but also know that people were nipping at my heels and now they're going to be gunning for me," Kearney said. "I'm going to train harder than I've ever trained before."
As for 2008 U.S. moguls champs Torito and Deneen, leading the way for U.S. athletes is a good way to head toward the 2009 championships to defend their titles.
"Today I skied really well on both my runs. It was a tight match between Margarita [Marbler; Austria] and I in the quarterfinal. I would have liked to have won the competition. It was one of those days where I could have taken it, but considering who I was up against, I think I skied alright," Torito said. "It's a good way to finish the season. Five of the top 10 girls were American and it feels good to be, in my opinion, a member of the strongest team."
According to Morse, while he may not have skied the way he wanted to on Wednesday, he is happy to have reached a level of consistency in his skiing.
"Today I didn't exactly get the results I was looking for. It was OK. I had a pretty good first dual and then in my second I went up against Guilbaut [Colas; France] and I lost to him, which was tough. I did not have my best run of the day against him, but I'm excited the season is coming to an end with me being pretty consistent," Morse said.
2009 FREESTYLE FIS WORLD CUP
La Plagne, Norway - March 18, 2009
1. Alexandre Bilodeau, Canada
2. Guilbaut Colas, France
3. Pierre Ochs, France
4. Anthony Benna, France
5. Vincent Marquis, Canada
6. Michael Morse, Duxbury, MA
7. Sho Kashima, South Lake Tahoe, CA
1. Margarita Marbler, Austria
2. Nikola Sudova, Czech Republic
3. Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, Canada
4. Maxime Dufour-Lapointe, Canada
5. Jennifer Heil, Canada
6. Emiko Torito, Denver
7. Shelly Robertson, Reno, NV
8. Heather McPhie, Park City, UT
9. Hannah Kearney, Norwich, VT
10. Michelle Roark, Denver
13. Eliza Outtrim, Steamboat Springs, CO