Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs In 1986 at the inaugural NBA 3-point shooting contest, Larry Bird knew who was going to win.
He turned to his competitors and asked “who’s coming in second place today?”
Hannah Kearney could do the same right now if she wanted.
The most dominant athlete in the world right now doesn’t wear shoulder pads.
She’s hell on skis, and nobody has come close to beating her in a year.
On Thursday, Kearney won her 11th straight freestyle moguls FIS World Cup. The record eclipsed Switzerland’s Conny Kissling for most consecutive wins and highlights the accomplishments of an athlete who’s becoming history’s most dominate women’s moguls skier.
The streak began in Lake Placid, N.Y., in early 2011. From there, Kearney has traveled the world and not only beaten her opponents but done it with ferocity. She usually wins by at least a point, sometimes more. She essentially has mercy ruled all of her opponents.
Part of Kearney’s utter dominance the past year can be traced back to Steamboat.
After winning the gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Games, Kearney spent the following summer in Steamboat.
Part of it was to get away from the massive media attention she had gotten. She rode her bike, hiked and basked in anonymity. She also figured out what was next and how to go about it.
Kearney admitted she was mentally burnt out. She talked about looking beyond skiing but also talked about becoming the greatest female moguls skier of all time.
She went to work that summer with local Olympian Bobby Aldighieri to work on her acrobatic skills and started relearning the basics of mogul skiing all over again.
Even though she was the best, she knew she could be better.
It’s worked. Kearney is dominating the sport like no other person has. Before she left Steamboat that summer, she contemplated what was next.
An athlete who has won at the highest level seemingly would have nothing left to compete for.
But not Kearney.
“That motivates me to strive for more success,” Kearney said in August 2010. “I’ve had a taste of it, and once you’ve had a taste of success at the top, nothing else will do.” Being at the top wasn’t enough. She didn’t simply want to be the best; she wanted to be the best of all time.
On Thursday, she added to her credentials as the best. With 11 wins in a row — most by huge margins — it doesn’t look like she is about to slow down.
Instead, she just continues to get better. She continues to add to her reputation as the most dominant athlete in the world right now.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com