Outtrim takes first World Cup win, Heil receives globe
Eliza Outtrim (USA) closed out the World Cup season in a big way Thursday as she took the win to mark the first podium performance of her career during the FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls competition in Spain. She was joined on the podium by Margarita Marbler of Austria in 2nd and her teammate Heather McPhie in third. Canada's Jennifer Heil had already confirmed her fifth season moguls title ahead of the final competition in Sierra Nevada. She didn't compete in the World Cup Finals, due to a seized hamstring and quadriceps, but she was on site to receive her fifth FIS crystal globe, marking her, once again, the world's best female mogul skier.
Canadian Freestyle Ski Association CEO Peter Judge had high praise for Heil's accomplishment: "The Crystal Globe is the pinnacle honour for Freestyle skiing - obviously winning it five times is an incredible achievement, but when you consider that Jenn did so despite the fact that she sat out two of the 11 events this season, you can see what a truly remarkable athlete she is."
"It's pretty incredible. I honestly couldn't believe it. It was so surreal for so long," daily winner Eliza Outtrim said. "I really did not expect this at all. I was really just hoping to get a top five, so this win is unbelievable."
On a brand new World Cup course, Outtrim said conditions improved throughout the day, enabling her to have her best run of the year.
"The course got better throughout the day. We had bad weather and poor visibility in the morning, and by the afternoon it had cleared out and the snow got better," Outtrim said. "I came off the top air and went fairly large, and from there I tried skiing fast and I nailed my bottom air. They were probably my best two jumps this year."
Once she was at the bottom, Outtrim still had to wait for teammate and Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney to compete before she knew her fate.
"When I was watching Hannah come down I got kind of teary-eyed even thinking that I was going to get second. But, Hannah had trouble on the bottom and they announced her in fourth," Outtrim said. "It was so unexpected. All my teammates are skiing so well and they've had such a great year. As a competitor you should always have the win in your mind, but I didn't really have it in my mind."
Marking the fourth World Cup podium of her season, McPhie said that skiing as well as she did on Thursday was refreshing from her run at the Olympics.
"I had to dig deep after the Olympics. Being on the road since the first and being disappointed in how I did there, it was fun to finally ski how I know I can again," McPhie said. "I was psyched to lay down a top to bottom run in semis. Finals was really good. I didn't do as well as I would have liked in the bottom section but everything else about it was really good."
The day held something else special in store for McPhie, who only experienced her first World Cup podium this season, as she was awarded second place in the World Cup moguls standings. McPhie and teammate, Olympic champion Hannah Kearney ended up with a point score tie in which case the ties are broken an on event by event comparison.
"I was very excited to end up 2nd overall on the tour. This is the best it could have gone. I was psyched to ski under pressure during the day," McPhie, one of the team's many Westminster College students, said. "It's so surreal. I think I was 38th or something in the World Cup last year, so it's definitely been a huge leap this year and I'm thrilled."
The U.S. women have packed the podium on a regular basis, with consistent strong results that helped put the USA on top winning the Freestyle World Cup moguls Nations' Cup title.
"It was cool to be standing there as a team. We've had an amazing year as a program and it's been so fun to be a part of it," McPhie said. "When you have such a strong team, it forces all of us to raise the bar. I think we have an incredible coaching staff. Alex Moore at the gym has been huge, not just in our strength training but in our overall mentality. None of us got here alone."