MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy Dec. 14, 2002 (USSA Release)--Olympic medalist Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, UT) and Toby Dawson (Vail, CO) pulled off an American sweep of a World Cup moguls events and Olympic medalist Travis Mayer (Steamboat Springs, CO) was third Saturday night as seven U.S. skiers made the finals. Dawson and Bahrke now lead the World Cup points list after three events.
"It was awesome to hear your anthem twice during the awards," said a beaming Donnie St. Pierre, U.S. moguls head coach. "The course was good, the snow was great—it got cold and hard overnight so you knew you could trust it."
Dawson, who said he was weary of finishing fourth after just missing the podium in the first two events of the new season, exploded out of the start, drilled his first air—a heli-X and tore through the rest of the course, clinching the win with his signature heli-daffy-cross off the bottom air. He had 27.98 points to 26.88 for Finn Mikko Ronkainen with Mayer third at 26.81 and Luke Westerlund (Breckenridge, CO) with a breakthrough fifth-place finish at 26.45.
"Yeah, I was very tired of being fourth," he said. "I've been training that air and going pretty big during training. I knew what I was gonna do for finals. I'd be damned if I'd be fourth again - I shot as hard as I could, didn't make too many mistakes...and it worked out. The snow was pretty nice; so many people had slipped the course...
"I was working hard all summer and fall in the gym, really focused on qualifying as one of the top skiers in every event. I've stayed pretty much true to my game plan, but when you're working that hard, you definitely want to be on the podium. Fourth is really a great finish, but nobody knows - and it's not what you want when you're after the podium.
"So, I took all that frustration, built on it and really shot for the podium," Dawson, who also won the final event of the 2001 season in Finland, explained.
St. Pierre added, "We're ecstatic for Toby after all the work he's put in. He wasn't gonna stand for fourth place again and he put that first heli-X through the roof...he went up and you could count 'One, one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand...' It was so nice when they did the yellow bib presentation (for World Cup leader) and we had both athletes up there, Shannon and Toby. Pretty nice."
In the women's event, Bahrke, who was second in the first two events of the season—in Tignes, France, and Sauze d'oulx, Italy, nailed a heli on the first 'air' and threw a heli-X at the bottom. She finished with 26.70 points, followed by two Norwegians—Ingrid Berntsen (26.30) and Olympic and defending World Cup champ Kari Traa (25.99).
"Shannon had that flat heli on top," St. Pierre said, "and she got off it the best she has all week. We'd talked with her about 'Now's the time, you gotta do it, you can do it'—and she said, 'Yup, I'm gonna nail it.' She kept her feet together. Kept those plastic boots together and landed it, skied away and hit her heli-X on the bottom. Really good form..."
St. Pierre was especially pleased with the fifth from Westerlund, the last of the team to make it into (top-12) finals. "Luke's worked hard, too - everyone has - and this time he made it...so everyone over here has at least one trip to finals. They're having a good time together, feeding off each other and pushing each other. It's fun."
The group heads to Ruka, Finland, for the final pre-Christmas World Cup on the 19th and will be joined by defending World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom (Loveland, CO), who was granted time off by University of Colorado football Coach Gary Barnett so he could compete, then hustle back and get into final pre-bowl preparations for the Golden Buffs.