Patrick Deneen flies off the bottom jump on the Voo Doo moguls course Wednesday at the Steamboat Ski Area. Deneen won the men's moguls event at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, earning a spot in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Patrick Deneen flies off the bottom jump on the Voo Doo moguls course Wednesday at the Steamboat Ski Area. Deneen won the men's moguls event at the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, earning a spot in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Kearney, Deneen win moguls event

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Jeremy Cota

Steamboat Springs freestyle skier Jeremy Cota got second place Wednesday, falling just short of earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Steamboat Springs freestyle skier Jeremy Cota got second place Wednesday, falling just short of earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

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2010 Olympic Trials in Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs hosted the Nordic combined and freestyle moguls events Wednesday.

Steamboat Springs hosted the Nordic combined and freestyle moguls events Wednesday.

Wednesday’s moguls results

Men

  1. Patrick Deneen, 26.68
  2. Jeremy Cota, 26.11
  3. Holt Haga, 26.06
  4. Shane Cordeau, 25.92
  5. Sho Kashima, 25.90
  6. Jimmy Discoe, 25.81
  7. Dave DiGravio, 25.53
  8. Michael Morse, 25.39
  9. David Babic, 24.88
  10. Joe Discoe, 24.86

 Women

  1. Hannah Kearney, 26.30
  2. Emiko Torito, 25.96
  3. Shannon Bahrke, 25.37
  4. Michelle Roark, 25.34
  5. Shelley Robertson, 24.58
  6. Heather McPhie, 24.09
  7. Eliza Outtrim, 23.56
  8. Heidi Kloser, 23.28
  9. Laurel Shanley, 23.15
  10. Mikaela Matthews, 13.11

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— The day was cold, the course was snowy and the visibility was often limited.

Still, hundreds lined the Voo Doo moguls run at Steamboat Ski Area on Wednesday and went wild as a pair of nearly perfect final runs paid off in men’s and women’s moguls at the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in Steamboat Springs.

Hannah Kearney and Patrick Deneen each logged their division’s highest score on their first runs through the steep and deep bumps of Voo Doo. Each pulled into the gate before their second runs — the last of their respective competitions — needing to outscore strong runs from fan-favorites with Steamboat connections. And each came through, earning guaranteed spots in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

“I’ve been wanting to go to the Olympics my entire life,” Deneen said. “Now to actually be qualified and guaranteed of going, I’m just really excited.”

Kearney laid down a fast and high-flying run down the course. It wasn’t spectacular, but that was the plan, she said.

It was enough. She scored 26.30, just enough to edge out The Lowell Whiteman School graduate Emiko Torito, who took the lead with the second-to-last run.

“I feel wonderful,” Kearney said. “I’m pleased with my skiing, and I’m especially pleased with the result.”

Kearney’s trip to Vancouver will be her second to an Olympic Games, though she said she hopes this bears little in common with her trip to Turin, Italy, in 2006. There, she lost her balance after her first jump and with it any chance at a medal.

She was already off to a fast start this winter, with a World Cup win and a third-place finish likely enough to ensure she’d have made the trip to Canada no matter what Wednesday’s outcome was.

Still, relief was in her voice as she contemplated the opportunity to avenge her 2006 stumble.

“This is the only golden ticket they give out in our sport, and now I can relax a little,” the Vermont skier said. “I’m looking for redemption. I didn’t ski well, and I didn’t take advantage of the whole Olympic experience, but I’ve learned a lot since then.”

Deneen edges out Cota

Deneen, meanwhile, realized his life-long ambition of earning a trip to his first Olympic Games. At the same time, he crushed the hopes of Steamboat hopeful Jeremy Cota.

Cota, who just earned his spot on the U.S. Ski Team last spring, logged the fifth-best score after the first run but soared down the course and took the lead with four skiers remaining on the final run.

Two of those remaining skiers fell while landing a jump or flew off the course. When Deneen stepped in for his final run, Cota was waiting at the bottom, potentially less than 30 seconds from an unlikely spot on the Olympics team.

“It’s a lot of stress,” he said about having to wait with so much on the line. “You’re sitting down there, and obviously you’re hoping you can stay at the top. At the same time, I

just kept thinking about how I had skied well, no matter what happens.”

Deneen was too good.

He hit a back lay on the top jump and a cork 720 on the bottom, all without a glitch.

“I was definitely really nervous because it was a do-or-die situation,” Deneen said. “I just knew I had to ski my run. I had been really consistent all week, and I knew if I could do my run, I’d get it done.”

Cota’s fast and solid run had edged out an explosive performance from Holt Haga, 26.11 to 26.06. Deneen was better still, with a final score of 26.68.

“I’m happy and sad at the same time,” Cota said. “I definitely skied as well as I could have. I had a lot of home fans out there, and I got to show them what I do. I couldn’t be happier in that aspect.

“But it’s tough, it coming down to the last guy like that.”

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