Deer Valley, Utah Feb. 9, 2002 (USSA)--The U.S. picked up its first medal of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games as ShannonBahrke (Tahoe City, Calif.) had a near flawless run to win the silver in the women's mogul event at Deer Valley ResortSaturday. Norwegian star Kari Traa took the gold, while Japan's Tae Satoya won the bronze.
Bahrke, the reigning U.S. champion in moguls, was fifth after the qualification run, but turned it on in her second pass onthe steep Deer Valley bump hill to finish second with a score of 25.06. After some clean turns on the top section, Bahrkelaid down a heli iron cross on the first kicker. She followed that with a straight helicopter on the second jump and crossedthe finish line, throwing her hands into the air.
"I love this course, and, like I said, I think it really accents all the stuff I've got going for me," said an elated Bahrke. "Ilove it. The sun is out and the sky is blue and that's what I do best in."
The second place finish has continued a super strong competitive season for Bahrke. In early January, she posted her firstcareer victory on the FIS World Cup tour with a win in Oberstdorf, Germany. She went on to record two more podiumfinishes after that.
"We've done a lot of training on this course," said Bahrke. "We've had World Cups, the Gold Cup and training camps here,so I think that gave a huge advantage to us. But I think the biggest advantage is having my hometown fans here. Andeveryone, all these Americans cheering for you...I am so proud to be an American."
Traa won the gold with a score of 25.94. She actually pulled the same trick as Bahrke (heli iron cross) on the first jumpand then executed a triple twister on the bottom.
"I was so nervous while I was waiting for my score because my second air wasn't so good," said Traa. "I'm just so happythat I made it."
Satoya won the bronze with a score of 24.85 and Canadian Jennifer Heil was just behind in fourth with a 24.84.
East coast native Hannah Hardaway (Moultonborough, N.H.), considered one of the top choices for a U.S. medal, was thirdafter qualifications, but ended up finishing fifth. Hardaway has had three World Cup podium finishes this season, so shewent into Deer Valley with a lot of confidence.
Four-time Olympian Ann Battelle (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) skied away with her best Olympic performance, takingseventh and topping her eighth place finish in 1994. However, Battelle's placing Saturday went the way of Hardaway's, asshe was in second following qualifications.
"I was feeling confident knowing I skied this course pretty well the last couple of days," said Battelle. "I wasn't nervousconsidering how many people I was skiing in front of."
Jillian Vogtli (Ellicotville, N.Y.), competing in her first Olympic Winter Games, failed to make the final cut of 16 as shefinished 18th in qualifications.
"It's was quite a journey (the road to the Olympic Winter Games)," said Vogtli. "I've enjoyed every bit of it and I'veaccomplished my lifelong dream."
The men's mogul competition is set for Feb. 12 at Deer Valley.