- Freestyle Skiing
Hannah Kearney, 2010 gold medalist, tops women’s qualification in Sochi
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - Defending champion Hannah Kearney underlined her status as favorite for the women's freestyle moguls by leading the first 10 qualifiers into the final in the evening twilight at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Thursday.
The 27-year-old American plunged around the bumps and down the 247-meter slope in 30.14 seconds to earn 23.05 points and pip Canadian sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who were awarded 22.64 and 22.28 points for second and third.
Kearney, whose competing in her third - and final - Winter Olympics - still needed some time to realize where she was.
"It didn't feel like the Olympics until I was standing at the top watching Eliza [Outtrim] at the gate and I took a second and looked at our Olympic bibs. Then it hit me that we're here.," she said.
There was also a place in the final for Japan's 34-year-old Aiko Uemura, who finished seventh as she started her fifth Olympic campaign. A second qualifying round will take place before Saturday's final. The top 10 of 20 from the second qualification round move on.
The 2014 Winter Games introduced a new moguls format for the first time. Kearney's thoughts on the new format favors her and the U.S. team.
"The new format is good for us because I can say quite confidently that we are the most fit and the strongest team out there. If you've seen the Center of Excellence in Utah you'd know that it's the nicest training venue you could ask for. We're all ready to ski a lot of runs in a row."
Despite coming in first place in the qualification round, Kearney knows she has some work to do.
"I was a little frustrated that I didn't fully get my grab on the bottom air. I did in practice, which is frustrating that I didn't do it when it counted, but also encouraging knowing I'm totally capable of getting it."
Heidi Kloser of the U.S. did not compete due to an injury during a training session.
Embedded video_content_type: Mogulist Heidi Kloser raps with former freestyle skier Jeremy Bloom
Top 10 finishers:
Hannah Kearney – USA
Chloe Dufour-Lapointe – Canada
Justine Dufour-Lapointe – Canada
Eliza Outtrim – USA
Perrine Laffont – France
Yulia Galysheva – Kazakstan
Aiko Uemura – Japan
Maximie Dufour-Lapointe – Canada
Audrey Robichaud – Canada
Regina Rakhimova - Russia
Embedded owg_slideshow: Hannah Kearney takes women's moguls qualification