Saturday, February 9, 2002
Park City, Utah Satisfaction was a hard thing for freestyle great Ann Battelle to find in the bumps of the Deer Valley mogul course Saturday afternoon.
After laying down the second best run of the qualification round in the morning, Battelle came up short in the finals, scoring 24.66 and falling to seventh place overall. It was a good finish by all measures, except for those set by the four-time Olympian from Steamboat Springs.
"To be satisfied I think I would have had to win," Battelle said. "I know I shouldn't concentrate on results, but that's the reality of it."
Norway's Kari Traa led both rounds of the women's moguls, scoring 25.11 on her first run to advance. She laid down another solid run in the finals collecting 25.94 points, and the gold medal.
"I normally ski very well under pressure," Traa said. "I just tried to do what I normally do for the World Cup. If I had skied bad today I would have been very disappointed."
Traa was the favorite heading into the Olympics. She has won five out of six (single) mogul events this season on the World Cup.
American Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City, Calf., stole the spotlight in the warm Utah afternoon by claiming the silver medal in front of 15,000 screaming fans who packed the stadium seating at the bottom of the Deer Valley run. It was the first medal of the games for the Americans.
"It's an amazing feeling," Barhke said of taking the silver medal in front of the pro-American crowd in Park City. A large number of Bahrke's family and friends cheered her on from the bottom of the hill. Bahrke said she wasn't sure how many people from her unofficial fan club showed up, but it was a real boost to her confidence at the top of the hill.
"They were the loudest guys on the mountain," Bahrke said. "I'm just so glad to have their support."
Bahrke's story is even more amazing considering she overcame a life-threatening staff infection a couple of seasons ago.
"My family they are the best. They are the bread and butter behind my skiingeveryone helped me get through that. They pushed me and told me that I could still be the best and I believed it and followed my dreams."
Japan's Tae Satoya finished third, Canadian Jennifer Heil was fourth and American Hannah Hardaway placed fifth.
Hardaway's finish was perhaps the most disappointing. Coming into the games, she was penciled in for one of the 20 medals the Americans expect to win.
But thanks to Bahrke, the Americans are still on track toward that goal.
"I can't believe I'm on the podium, Bahrke said.
It was hard for Battelle to share Bahrke's happiness, but she took her finish in stride by flashing a smile and joking with the media in the finish area.
The seventh-place showing was her best in four Olympic appearances. She was eighth in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994, recorded a 10th in Nagano, Japan in 1998 and was 21st in her Olympic debut in 1992 in Albertville, France.
"I think I skied pretty well. I think that my bottom jump wasn't that good and that's where they nailed me," Battelle said.
Former teammate Bobby Aldighieri, who was at the games coaching the Canadian team, said he was pulling for Battelle to make it onto the podium this year.
"I just wanted to see her do her best," Aldighieri, said. "It was good for her... she's a four-time Olympian that's not so bad for her."
Battelle will retire at the end of the 2002 season.
To reach John F.Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org