Preview: Canada could provide bumpy competition in moguls

Hannah Kearney
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EVENT SCHEDULE

Thursday – Women’s qualification 9 a.m. ET

Saturday – Women’s qualification 9 a.m. ET; women’s gold medal round 1 p.m. ET

Feb. 10 – Men’s qualification 9 a.m. ET; men’s final round 1 p.m. ET

TV SCHEDULE

Thursday – Women’s qualification, 8 p.m. ET, NBC-TV

Saturday – Women’s gold medal final, 2 p.m. ET, NBC-TV

Feb. 10 – Men’s gold medal final, 8 p.m. ET, NBC-TV

MORE: 14 facts you didn’t know about moguls

FORMAT CHANGE

NBC’s Jason Stahl succinctly breaks down the changes from Vancouver to Sochi:

The format in Vancouver included two runs. There was a qualification run, your scores cleared, then you had a finals run. That was the medal round. Heading into Sochi, there’s now two separate days for moguls – for both men and women. There’s going to be a qualification day and if you move on to a second day of competition with three more rounds, knockout-style, that culiminates in the final round, also known as the “super final.” Scores do not carry over and the athlete with the top score from this one run wins.

U.S. skier Heather McPhie seems thrilled about the changes, for one.

“It’s very different,” McPhie said. “It adds an endurance component to our sport that’s not common in singles. For me, it’s great. I workout a lot and I’ve been really preparing for that format.”

If that wasn’t enough, NBCOlympics.com passes along word that there have been some issues with the moguls course in Sochi. There could be some variables at play during these events.

U.S. OUTLOOK

Kearney is the big name in the women’s event, as she defends her gold from 2010 and hopes to become the first freestyle skier to win multiple Olympic gold medals in the process. She’s been dominant since winning it all in Vancouver, as her 16 consecutive World Cup victories set a new record.

Growing up Hannah Kearney

Other American women include McPhie, Heidi Kloser and Eliza Outtrim.

The U.S. boasts two men’s moguls competitors in Patrick Deneen and Bradley Wilson. Deneen, 26, came in second at the 2013 World Championships, edging Mikael Kingsbury. Wilson, 21, hopes to match his brother Byron (who won a bronze in 2010).

Model Olympian: Patrick Daneen

INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK

Canada may provide the greatest competition in both the men’s and women’s formats.

Alex Bilodeau became the first Canadian to win it all on home soil when he won men’s moguls gold in Vancouver. He’ll hope to back up that performance with consecutive gold medals, with fellow Canadian Mikael Kingsbury ranking among his best competition. Depending upon whom you ask, Kingsbury may very well be the favorite instead of Bilodeau.

Canada also boasts Marc-Antoine Gagnon and Torino gold medalist Dale Begg-Smith (coming out of retirement), while Russia’s Aleksandr Smyshlyayev is being trained by former Canadian coach Stephen Fearing.

Alex Bilodeau takes it ‘slo’ training in Chile

On the women’s side, a trio of Canadian sisters could give Kearing a run for her money. Maxime, Chloe and Justin Dufour-Lapointe bring in varied levels of hype and hope to build off their experiences from Vancouver. Justine, 19 and the youngest, might be the most formidable of the three.

Japan’s Miki Ito and Aiko Uemura join Kazakhstan’s Yulia Galysheva, Australia’s Britteny Cox and the Czech Republic’s Nikola Sudova are other names to watch.

Tale of the Tape: Hannah Kearney vs. Justine Dufoir-Lapointe