Third-straight win for Jenn Heil and Dale Begg-Smith
It was all smiles and tears for Heather McPhie and Shannon Bahrke (both USA) who finished first and third, during the FIS Freestyle World Cup Nature Valley Freestyle Challenge at Deer Valley Resort in Park City (USA).
Beneath clear, cold skies, skier after skier took to the hillside of snowy bumps at Deer Valley, throwing out the best tricks they could in an attempt to boost their chances of making their respective 2010 Olympic Teams.
Tying for her win, McPhie was overwhelmed with the joy that came with her first World Cup victory and fought back tears when she explained what the moment meant to her.
"I've believed in myself for a long time, but you never know - there are so many variables. I just wanted to give it everything I had and I did," McPhie said. "My parents are here to see my first podium, and my family and friends. I have so much support."
According to McPhie, being able to overcome such a strong field in her hometown means a lot to her, and potentially her future as an Olympian.
"This is so exciting! We're at Deer Valley, and with six U.S. girls in the top 12, to end up on top is unreal," McPhie said. "I hope and can't wait to walk into Opening Ceremonies representing my country. There are still so many days and so much more training before that."
A shaky bottom air still couldn't knock Jenn Heil (CAN) off the top podium step as she shared the win with McPhie. Heil and McPhie each earned 24.59 points. Bahrke was third at 24.18. It was Heil's third consecutive win on the circuit and 24th career World Cup victory. "I caught an edge on the bottom air and that was a big mistake," said Heil. "I had a very low score for that back flip but the first three-quarters of my run was some of the best skiing I have ever done."
The firey Bahrke, who famously won her silver medal in 2002 on the same Deer Valley course, had a feeling about Thursday's competition.
"I just felt like today was going to be my day. I was a little bummed because I went a little big and set it a little hard on my back flip, but I was so happy to be on the podium. With this good a team and it just really means the world to me."
In men's moguls, Vancouver-born Dale Begg-Smith of Australia also earned a third straight World Cup win with a whopping 26.12 score. Guilbaut Colas of France was second at 25.48 and Dmitriy Reiherd of Kazakhstan third at 25.10.
Competition continues Friday evening with men's and women's aerials.