- Freestyle Skiing
Frozen facts: 14 things you didn't know about Olympic moguls
1. Moguls made its Olympic debut in 1988 when it was contested as a demonstration sport and became a medal sport in 1992 in Albertville. Edgar Grospiron pleased the hometown crowd by winning the men’s gold medal. Following Grospiron’s victory, fans broke down a security fence that lined the course to hoist the champion on their shoulders. Heavily-favored Donna Weinbrecht of the United States used a conservative, but clean run to win the women’s moguls gold medal.
Edgar Grospiron landing a jump during his gold medal-winning run at the 1992 Winter Olympics (Photo: Getty Images)
2. Kari Traa of Norway has the most career moguls medals with three. She won a bronze medal at the 1998 Nagano Games, a gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Games and a silver at the 2006 Torino Games.
Gold medalist Jennifer Heil of Canada (left), silver medalist Kari Traa (center) of Norway and bronze medalist Sandra Laoura of France celebrate after the women's moguls competition during the 2006 Torino Olympics. (Photo: USA Today Sports)
3. The youngest male medalist in moguls is Travis Mayer. The American was 19 years, 355 days old when he won the men’s moguls silver medal in 2002. The youngest gold medalist in moguls is Australian Dale Begg-Smith. He was 21 years, 28 days old when he won the men’s moguls gold medal in 2006. The youngest female gold medalist is Tae Satoya of Japan. She was 21 years, 234 days old when she won the women’s moguls in 1998.
Tae Satoya on her final run at the 1998 Winter Olympics. (Photo: Getty Images)
4. The last Americans to win a medal in moguls was Hannah Kearney who won the 2010 women’s moguls gold medal. Shannon Bahrke won the 2010 women’s moguls bronze medal, and Byron Wilson won the 2010 men’s moguls bronze medal. Kearney is also the last American to win a gold medal in moguls.
Hannah Kearney skis down the moguls course on her way to winning a gold medal at the Vancouver Games. (Photo: USA Today Sports)
5. Jonny Moseley won the first medal for the U.S. in men’s moguls at the 1998 Nagano Games. Using his patented 360-Mute-Grab – the move that made him a national celebrity and helped launch freestyle skiing into the national consciousness – on the last jump in the final, Moseley took off, and did a complete spin while grabbing his inside ski.
Jonny Mosely attempting his patented 360-mute-grab, at the 1998 Nagano Games. (Photo: Getty Images)
6. Finland’s Janne Lahtela had accomplished nearly everything imaginable over the course of his decade-long moguls career: he had won an Olympic silver medal (1998), a world title (1999) and a World Cup crown. Entering his fourth Olympics in 2002, the only thing he hadn’t done was win Olympic gold. Powered by smooth and consistent if not spectacular skiing, the 27-year-old was good enough to beat out American Travis Mayer by 38 hundredths of a point, becoming the first Finn to win an Olympic gold medal in freestyle skiing.
7. In 2002, Jonny Moseley, the 1998 gold medalist, performed a bold new move called the Dinner Roll, a 720-degree horizontal spin. Though Moseley’s move was received with overwhelming approval from the home crowd, it wasn’t enough to win him a second straight Olympic medal as he finished in fourth place.
8. In her Olympic debut, 21-year-old Shannon Bahrke of the U.S. won a silver medal with a score of 25.06, 88 hundredths of a point behind Traa, in 2002. It was the first U.S. medal in women’s moguls since Liz McIntyre’s silver in 1994.
Shannon Barhke competing at the 2002 Winter Olympics. (Photo: Getty Images)
9. In 2006, Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith, a 21-year-old with a booming online marketing company, was all business on his way to winning Australia’s third gold medal in the Winter Games. Born in Canada, Begg-Smith switched to compete for Australia because he felt that Canadian coaches weren’t allowing him to devote the necessary time to his online venture. In 2010, Begg-Smith won silver and became one of three men in Olympic history to have collected two medals in the men’s moguls.
Dale Begg-Smith competing at the 2006 Torino Games. (Photo: USA Today Sports)
10. Perhaps the most notable story from the 2006 Winter Games occurred afterwards, as bronze medalist Toby Dawson was reunited with his biological father. The 27-year-old was born in South Korea, but was adopted at age three by a Colorado family. In the months following the 2006 Olympics, the American mogulist received contact from dozens of people claiming to be his biological parents. Once genetic tests confirmed that his father had been found, Dawson traveled to Seoul almost a year to the day after the Torino Games. Dawson’s biological father, Kim Jae-su, told the reporters at a press conference that his son had been lost in a market and they were unable to find him at the local orphanages.
Toby Dawson competes at the 2006 Torino Games. (Photo: USA Today Sports)
11. On the women’s side, defending Olympic champion Kari Traa had the more challenging jumps, but Canada’s Jenn Heil skied down the hill faster and handled the moguls better to edge the Norwegian mogulist by 0.85 points and take gold. The victory marked the first gold medal of the Games for the Canadians, who went on to win 24 medals, the most-ever for the nation at the time. For Traa, the silver was her third Olympic medal, making her freestyle skiing’s first three-time Olympic medalist.
12. One of the lasting images of the Vancouver Games happened on February 14th, when Alex Bilodeau won the men’s moguls competition to become the first Canadian to earn gold on home soil, ending a disappointing distinction from the 1976 Montreal and the 1988 Calgary Games. His win ignited a gold medal spree for the hosts — 14 in total — the most by any host nation in Olympic Winter Games history. He shared the moment with his older brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy and was watching from the bottom of the hill that night.
Alex Bilodeau of Canada soars through the air during his final run at the Vancouver Games, on his way to winning gold. (Photo: USA Today Sports)
13. A virtual unknown heading into the 2010 Games, Bryon Wilson of the U.S. took home bronze to continue a streak of U.S. medals in this event that dated back to the 1998 Nagano Games. His brother, Bradley, will be competing in Sochi.
Bryon Wilson during his bronze medal run at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. (Photo: USA Today Sports)
14. The women’s side in Vancouver had just as much excitement. Canada’s Jenn Heil was in first place in the final round, with just one competitor remaining, Hannah Kearney. With the deafening noise at the bottom and memories of a crash in Torino in her mind, Kearney, the top qualifier, steeled herself and executed a nearly flawless run to claim gold by .94 points ahead of Heil. Teammate Shannon Bahrke earned bronze.
Silver medalist Jennifer Heil (left), gold medalist Hannah Kearney (center) and bronze medalist Shannon Bahrke (right) celebrate after the women's moguls finals at the 2010 Games. (Photo: USA Today Sports)