U.S. women eye moguls competition | SteamboatToday.com

U.S. women eye moguls competition

Luke Graham

The U.S. Women's Freestyle moguls team has done just about everything in the past two months to put itself in a position to find the podium today at Cypress Mountain, British Columbia.

All four members, Hannah Kearney, Michelle Roark, Shannon Bahrke and Heather McPhie, have a World Cup podium this year.

Kearney is the reigning World Cup overall moguls champion, Bahrke won a silver at the 2002 Olympics and Roark has the most experience.

McPhie finished the season maybe stronger than anyone, picking up a win and two second-place finishes at back-to-back days in World Cups in Deer Valley, Utah.

"Obviously, I like our chances," U.S. freestyle head coach Jeff Wintersteen said. "And I think we're peaking at the right time."

But believe it or not, the U.S. women aren't expected to win when the competition begins with qualifying at 5:30 p.m. today (Mountain Standard Time). The finals are slated to begin at 8:30 p.m.

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The recognition of favorite goes to Canada's Jennifer Heil. Heil is ranked No. 1 in the world and is the defending Olympic champion.

History, however, might be on the Americans' side. No Olympic mogulist has ever repeated as an Olympic champion.

"I think my expectation is I want to be on the podium," Bahrke said. "I'm skiing well enough to do it. I'm ready this time. I'm healthy, strong and skiing well. It's mind, body and soul. That's a really good combination. I know on the right day, I can make that happen."

The conditions at Cypress Mountain should be interesting. After worries about a lack of snow, a course was built and got good reviews from competitors. But changing conditions, including rain, have left the athletes wondering what type of snow they'll actually ski on. Today's conditions are calling for snow in the morning with the potential for rain during the competition.

"It totally depends," McPhie said. "Raining adds a whole new variable. But I look at it as we're all in the same boat."

Despite all the coverage of conditions, every skier has to ski the same course. And it all comes down to about 50 seconds, 40 turns and two runs to go down as an elite skier or one people will remember forever.

"That's always the case," McPhie said. "We always have two runs. Your yesterdays are cleared. I've gotten used to that. I'm working on the things I can control. It's less than 30 seconds to prove how hard you worked and where you stack up. It's fun."