Hannah Kearney emotional about final moguls season

Hannah Kearney
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Hannah Kearney performed the last of more than 6,000 career jumps off a water ramp over seven years of training in Lake Placid, N.Y., two weeks ago. She threw her ski poles away. Then she felt it.

“The idea that I was getting choked up over something that I wasn’t really going to miss is like, uh-oh, I’m going to be a wreck in March,” Kearney said while getting her hair done in Midtown Manhattan last week.

Kearney, the most decorated U.S. freestyle skier ever, will retire after the 2014-15 season. The 2010 Olympic moguls champion decided before the Sochi Olympics that they would be her final Winter Games. She contemplated not coming back even for post-Olympic competition after a heartbreaking experience in the Russian mountains.

Kearney attempted to become the first freestyle skier to win back-to-back golds last February. She was a heavy favorite. She took bronze instead and shed tears sharing a podium with Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe.

“No one in life wants the best part of their career to be behind them,” Kearney told reporters on the first night of medal competition at the Sochi Olympics. “Unfortunately, that’s what it feels like right now, that I was at my best in the past.”

Kearney, 28, isn’t changing her primary goal going into her 13th and final season, starting in Finland on Dec. 13. Win the overall World Cup title for a sixth time, which would break a tie for the record with Canadian Jenn Heil and American Donna Weinbrecht.

She publicly declared her retirement plans to hold herself accountable. Nagging knee pain in training last month felt like a reminder that she may have made the wrong decision in continuing one more season. Kearney had a left knee arthroscopy following a torn meniscus in July.

“I know in my heart that I need to move on,” said Kearney, who completed her freshman slate at Dartmouth in three years between Vancouver and Sochi, chopped up by competition. “In order to accomplish anything else in my life, I’ve got to start doing it now.”

Kearney, who started moguls skiing before women were allowed to do back flips in competition, will miss plenty about traveling the world to compete. The smell of her favorite bakery in Are, Sweden. The view of the Matterhorn from her Swiss hotel. But not the 2 a.m. alarms to drive from Norwich, Vt., to the Manchester, N.H., airport.

She still thinks about that Sochi Olympic bronze daily.

“I can get choked up talking about it, but I will get over it,” Kearney said. “I know everything happens for a reason. I’m just not sure why.”

Andrew Weibrecht heads into season coming off another concussion

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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