Freestyle Skiing

Torin Yater-Wallace

Torin Yater-Wallace, Maddie Bowman lead U.S. skiers onto halfpipe podium at Olympic qualifier

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Heavy snow on Friday and high winds on Saturday led to the cancellation of the final round of the skiing halfpipe and snowboarding slopestyle events at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. The competition, held in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., served as the first Olympic qualifier for the U.S. athletes hoping to make the team for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

With the final round unable to be contested, the results from qualification stood and four skiers moved halfway to earning an Olympic berth. In the men’s freeskiing halfpipe competition, Torin Yater-Wallace earned the top score of 92.33, followed by Gus Kenworthy with 92.oo. and Taylor Seaton with 90.00. Yater-Wallace and Kenworthy were 2014 Olympians, with Kenworthy earning a silver medal in the ski slopestyle event.

It was Yater-Wallace’s first World Cup win since 2014. He’s had his share of injuries in the years since Sochi, with a concussion in 2015 followed by an infection that affected his gall bladder, liver and lungs and put him on life support in 2016. At the Mammoth competition, he told U.S. Freeskiing, “(I’m) actually dealing with a really bruised heel right now, but I am working through it.”

In the women’s event, the reigning Olympic champion in ski halfpipe, Maddie Bowman, finished second. In first place was France’s Marie Martinod and third was Japan’s Ayana Onozuka.

Yater-Wallace, Kenworthy, Seaton and Bowman now just need one more podium finish at an Olympic selection event to automatically become PyeongChang Olympians. A maximum of three athletes per gender will be named to the U.S. team if they finish on the podium at two designated selection events. The second of the five planned qualifiers will be held next December.

“The fact that it’s an Olympic qualifier definitely adds a lot of pressure,” Kenworthy said, “but I tried not to think too much about the stakes at hand and just focused on landing my run.”

MORE: Torin Yater-Wallace healthy going into X Games after years of health scares

 

 

Hannah Kearney still dreams of Olympics in retirement

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Hannah Kearney has been having these dreams since she retired from moguls skiing last year. Olympic dreams.

In a recent sleep, Kearney, the 2010 Olympic champion, saw the U.S. earning the right to host a future Winter Games. Inspiration to strap on the skis again?

“Now I’m thinking that would have to be over eight years from now, so I think that’s really, really unlikely,” said Kearney, who turned 30 in February. “I think part of me just doesn’t know what to do.”

Kearney last competed March 27, 2015, winning the U.S. Championships one final time to finish a strong season and a decorated career. From 2004 through 2015, Kearney amassed two Olympic medals, three world titles and a record-tying 46 World Cup wins.

Kearney struggled to decide when to retire, but she moved on quickly after hanging up the skis. Kearney took her name out of the drug-testing pool later that spring — the “official” sign of retirement in Olympic sports — and returned to school.

It took Kearney four years to complete three semesters’ worth of Dartmouth classes while juggling her gold-medal moguls career. She’s now a junior at Westminster College in Utah, a full-time student having just declared her major of marketing.

Earlier this month, Kearney was surrounded by her former teammates in New York City for the U.S. Ski Team’s Gold Medal Gala fundraising event.

Hours earlier, Kearney sat in a Manhattan hair salon chair with a laptop, putting the finishing touches on a financial analysis of Delta versus United for her Finance 300 class.

“It’s due at midnight, so I figured I better get it in before the ski ball starts,” she said.

Kearney is taking five classes this semester plus working a paid marketing-department internship with Promontory, a luxury Park City real estate community. She called it her “first real-world job.”

“It turns out I don’t have a lot of experience with that sort of stuff,” Kearney joked. “It’s the juggling act that all Americans deal with, and I never had to, so I can’t really complain.”

So, where are those Olympic dreams coming from? Well, Kearney is going to the gym three days per week with longtime teammate Jeremy Cota and following his strength program.

“We spend so much time training our bodies, I don’t want to just lose it all instantly [in retirement],” she said. “So I’ve just been trying to maintain.”

Kearney, who once won 16 straight World Cup events, always struggled with pull-ups. She says proudly that she can still do three sets of eight pull-ups, the same benchmark from during her moguls career.

“It was like a mental battle when I was an athlete,” she said. “I do not want to go back to not being able to do pull-ups.”

Kearney skied moguls this past winter, unwillingly, while urged by others in Park City.

“Not warming up and going to the moguls no longer feels good,” she said. “Jumping into a mogul field, it makes me feel as if I never was good at the sport to begin with.”

MORE: Pyeongchang 2018 video looks at Olympic venues, slogan

Jeremy Bloom recalls 2006 Olympics in ‘Fueled by Failure’

Jeremy Bloom
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source:
Courtesy Jeremy Bloom.

Two-time Olympian Jeremy Bloom incorporated not only his moguls skiing career but also his time as an NFL wide receiver, CEO and philanthropist in a new book, “Fueled by Failure.”

In 2003, Bloom captured gold and silver medals at the World Championships in dual moguls and moguls, respectively. He earned 10 career World Cup victories, including a then-record six straight in 2005.

But in his two Olympics, Bloom finished off the podium, ninth in 2002 and sixth in 2006.

“We all use failure as a vehicle to learn,” Bloom, who has worked for NBC Olympics, said in a phone interview Thursday. “Failure makes you stronger. Losing teaches you how to win. We’ve all heard those quotes and clichés, but what does that mean? Why does it make you stronger?”

Bloom detailed why he wrote the book on his website. It follows his path from football to skiing to business. He also included stories from Olympic teammate Apolo Anton Ohno and other successful businessmen who overcame failures.

Here’s an excerpt from “Fueled by Failure,” from the first chapter titled, “22 Seconds to Glory,” about Bloom’s experience at the Torino 2006 Olympics:

I had 22 seconds to make a 23-year-old dream come true.

As I stood in the staging area at the 2006 Winter Olympics, in Torino, Italy, I thought about how I wanted to be able to call myself an Olympic champion. I thought about all my friends around the world watching me on TV and about my dad back home in Colorado and my mom who was in the grandstands waiting for me below. I flashed back to the years I spent competing in regional competitions around Colorado, the phone call I received at 15 when I found out that I had made the U.S. National Team, and the thousands of hours that I had spent preparing myself for this moment.

Images shot through my mind of the journey that had brought me to this point. I remembered the time, at 10 years old, when I first watched mogul skiing in the Olympics with my dad and my mom. My dad has a passion for the Olympics that goes back to the Carl Lewis days at the 1984 games and continues to this day. When a U.S. athlete stands atop the podium and “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays, he gets very emotional. My dad was my first football coach and ski coach, and my hero. I wanted nothing more in my life than to win an Olympic gold medal, not only for myself but also for my family. The thought of my family watching me as I stood on top of that Olympic podium, with a gold medal wrapped around my neck, was a major driving force in my lifelong quest.

I had won more consecutive World Cup races than any freestyle skier in history the year before—I was skiing great in 2006, and this was my moment. I had trained well all week and knew that I was going to ski flawlessly.

One Move, One Moment

As I slid into the starting gate, I got my first glimpse of the 230-meter mogul course where my fate would be decided. It was a beautiful night in Torino; the snow sparkled off the bright lights like a Manhattan sidewalk on a warm summer evening. I went over the three key things I needed to remember:

1. Focus on your skills. They are what will get you down this mountain every time. This was my method of going back to the basics.

2. Live downstairs. I imagined myself downstairs in a cellar where no thoughts from the outside could get in. This was my way of eliminating any thought that wasn’t focused on the skiing task at hand. It helped me achieve tunnel vision.

3. Mind like a river. Any thought that might come up that didn’t have to do with my run would flow from the front of my head out the back. Nothing can stay still in a fast-moving river. This was also how I moved quickly past any self-defeating thoughts like “I’m going to fall,” “I’m going to miss my top jump,” or “I don’t feel ready.”

I had an unusual sense of confidence that day. In my head I knew I was going to ski up to my potential. Finally, the judges were ready; my time had come. I wasn’t nervous. My moment was now!

“Three, two, one,” over the loudspeaker, and I pushed out of the gate. I felt the snow under my skis and quickly got into the top jump. I nailed my takeoff and landed my 720 iron-cross perfectly. As I landed, I started to accelerate faster and faster. The snow was icier than it had been in training. I felt myself getting a bit out of control, but I was determined to fight my skis back underneath me. I got it back together quickly and was flying into the bottom air. The takeoff on my D-spin 720 was not perfect, and I landed with a small compression. But I blazed through the bottom section of the course to the finish line. My heart immediately dropped—I knew it wasn’t my best run. I knew I made a small mistake, but didn’t know how severely the judges were going to penalize me for it.

Even though I wanted to win a medal, in reality, my biggest goal at the Olympics was to ski to my potential. If I did that, everything else would take care of itself. But I had made one mistake, and I knew it would cost me. The only question was how much. In those fleeting moments while I awaited my score, I felt the same gut-wrenching feeling I had experienced when I was 19 years old and participating in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. That year, I had been the number-one ranked skier in the world, but I made a small mistake on my final run and it cost me an opportunity to medal.

My score came up. I was in fourth place with two skiers to go. My dreams of becoming an Olympic champion were over. I had prepared my entire life for this one moment and I knew there would not be another opportunity. Skiing through the media gauntlet that awaited me, I tried to smile, said the right things, and kept myself together, masking the disappointment as best I could. My mom came over, hugged me, and told me she was very proud of me. My mom was my biggest supporter and fan. She flew all over the world to see me compete and had not missed a single football game I played in during high school and college. Yet she always cared more about how I treated other people and how I handled winning and losing than she did about where I placed or whether I won.

When I returned to my apartment in Torino, I closed the door, sat down on the bed, and, well, that was it. I lost it. Tears flowed down my face. A torrent of emotion flooded over me. I wanted to crawl outside of my body because the pain was so unbearable. It was the lowest moment of my athletic life; I felt totally defeated once again on skiing’s biggest stage. I woke up the next morning hoping that it was all just a bad dream. Still engulfed in the emotion of what had occurred, I kept replaying the run again and again in my mind. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to keep to myself and be alone. But there wasn’t much time for mourning and self-pity. Within 48 hours’ time, I had to move on. There was another dream that wasn’t going to wait for me to recover from this devastating emotional blow: football.

Catching up with Olympic moguls medalist Toby Dawson