Waterville Valley, NH, Mar. 18, 2001--Garth Hager (Bothell, WA) warmed-up for a Hawaiian vacation Sunday by successfully defending his dual moguls title while Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, CA) collected her first national crown on the last sun-splashed day of the Chevy Truck U.S. Freestyle Championships at Waterville Valley resort.
Hager edged unheralded Mike Friedberg (Boulder, CO) in the final run to collect $3,400 first place money. The bronze medalwent to Waterville Valley Academy product David Babic (Breckenridge, CO) with Jesse Jenison (Tahoe City, CA) fourth.
"It was a nice day and I needed some redemption from singles day," Hager said. He finished a badly disappointed 12thFriday in moguls on the first day of the championships, which returned to Waterville for the first time since 1984.
"I'm just going..."
"The competition is supplied because it's visual - there's a guy beside you. He's going fast and there's no way I'll let himget in front of me," he explained. "In duals, I don't analyze a thing. I'm just going to the bottom."
The bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 30s started to wear on the Lower Bobby's Run course as the skiersprogressed through the head-to-head ladder, chewing atthe abundant snow cover. "The course held up pretty good, but afew bumps started to get a little softer and a little deeper, but luckily they weren't key areas - like right before thejumps - where everybody's trying to slam on the brakes," Hager said.
He flies home Monday and leaves the next day with his wife, who's finishing college exams, for a week or so at hisfamily's place on Maui. "Time for some surfing," he smiled.
In the women's event, Bahrke narrowly edged another U.S. Ski Team athlete, Jillian Vogtli (Ellicotville, NY) in the last runwith Laurel Shanley (Olympic Valley, CA) defeating Jaclyn Paaso (Bethel, ME) in the matchup for third place.
From death cookies to a gold medal
"I thought the course got better and better each run," Bahrke, who finished a short while before the men's final run, saidbefore the awards ceremony. "This morning it was very firm with a lot of 'death cookies' small but firm snow chunks onthe landings, but every run it kept getting better.
"It softened up and got a little more direct as the moguls were eaten away. The landings were a little rough, but otherthan that it was really good."
Vogtli, who took the bronze medal in the opening moguls contest, added, "It was a great day - not only today but Friday. Ifeel like I made a lot of great breakthroughs with my jumping and my confidence, keeping my eyes up and just trustingmyself."
She'd like to see a few more events, Vogtli said. "The season's ending too soon, way too soon. With so few World Cups, youstart to get your momentum and then it's done. It was too short a season."
Coach Don St. Pierre gave high marks to the organizers for the championships. "The organizers did a great job," he said,"and Mother Nature sure came to the party blue skies and warming temperatures 10 days after a storm left two feet ofsnow in this section of the White Mountains, which is always nice.
"The event went very well and it's always nice to see new kids come along, which shows the depth of the mogulsprogram. It says a lot for the coaches, who motivate, and for the parents, who support the kids. The sport's in good shapein this country, which is not the same elsewhere, as we see during the winter when we go overseas."
One of the highlights on the final day of the Chevy Truck championships was a brief, pre-event exhibition by the "Foundersof Freestyle," headed by Wayne Wong and Doug Pfeiffer, who were honored for their participation in the inaugural proevent - at Waterville Valley in March 1971. (In addition to his role in helping establish freestyle, Wong coached atWaterville for a half-dozen seasons in the Seventies.)
Chevy Truck U.S. Freestyle Championships
Waterville Valley, NH - March 18
1. Garrth Hager, Bothell, Wash.
2. Mike Friedberg, Boulder, Colo.
3. David Babic, Breckenridge, Colo.
4. Jesse Jenison, Tahoe City, Calif.
5. Travis Cabral, South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
6. Donovan Power, Missoula, Mont.
7. Michael Morse, Duxbury, Mass
8. Michael Stevenson, Whitefish, Mont.
1. Shannon Bahrke, Tahoe City, Calif.
2. Jillian Vogtli, Ellicotville, N.Y.
3. Laurel Shanely, Olympic Valley, Calif.
4. Jaclyn Paaso, Bethel, Maine
5. Ann Battelle, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
6. Jill Norman, Durango, Colo.
7. Shelly Robertson, Reno, Nev.
8. Heather McPhie, Bozeman, Mont.