Kearney bows out with gold | SteamboatToday.com

Kearney bows out with gold

Ben Ingersoll

— Hannah Kearney bowed out of her professional freestyle moguls career in the spot she’s most familiar with — on top of the podium.

U.S. Freestyle Championships — Women’s moguls finals

1 Hannah Kearney, 91.19

2 Nessa Dziemian, 89.63

3 Keaton McCargo, 88.29

4 Mikaela Matthews, 88.26

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5 Sophia Schwartz, 87.73

6 KC Oakley, 86.81

7 Lane Stoltzner, 85.21

8 Ali Kariotis, 85.01

9 Anna Park, 82.08

10 Hallee Ray, 81.70

11 Kelly Lawson, 81.51

12 Alex Jenson, 80.38

13 Elizabeth O’Connell, 79.04

14 Taryn Baker, 77.95

15 Morgan Shaver, 74.04

16 Sophia Marseilles, 64.19

Kearney, the final racer in the 16-skier U.S. women’s freestyle moguls finals on Friday, threw down the day’s top run, peered up at the scoreboard and saw the familiar No. 1 next to her name and her 91.19 score.

And for the final time in her moguls career, she took a farewell bow toward a horde of cameras and the Steamboat fans that saw her rise from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ranks to an Olympic gold and bronze medalist.

Even if the moment seemed grandiose to the gallery and her nearby U.S. Ski Team teammates who had just finished their runs, too, it was just another walk in the park for the 29-year-old decorated freestyler.

"It’s wonderful because you want to win your last competition," Kearney said. "But it’s also anticlimactic in a way because it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s it.’ The score flashes across the screen, and your career is over."

The competition didn’t let her walk away without a bit of a fight. Nessa Dziemian, the high-flying, 20-year-old U.S. Ski teamer from Park City, launched her way to the top of the leaderboard one run before Kearney’s turn, scoring an 89.63.

But perfect course conditions — just before the casting sun slushed out the snow and made somewhat of a mess of the men’s finals — helped Kearney stick the only women’s 90-plus score of the day, closing her career with a gold medal.

"I kind of reminded myself at the top that this was it," Kearney said. "I generally ski better when I ski in the moment, so saying that sentence was a reminder to focus."

Telluride native and national team member Keaton McCargo took home the bronze medal, making it a U.S. Ski Team sweep on the awards stage. McCargo had a score of 88.29, just a hair better than fourth-place finisher Mikaela Matthews’ 88.26.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Sophia Schwartz had some of her best stuff from the entire season in the trials and finals, where she ultimately placed fifth with a score of 87.73.

Lane Stoltzner, another young Winter Sports Club emerging freestyler, was seventh (85.21). Winter Park’s Hallee Ray, the second-youngest competitor at just 16 years old, took ninth overall on Friday.

"It’s a step in the right direction," Winter Sports Club Freestyle Director Bobby Aldighieri said. "Lane really took it on and skied much better than yesterday. Sophia, that was clutch. That backflip full twist up top, she’s struggled with that a bit, and that was a nice finish for that thing."

Men’s and women’s mogul skiers will have Saturday off from competition while the aerials event takes place adjacent to the Voodoo course. They will wrap up the U.S. Freestyle Championships with Sunday’s dual moguls, also on Voodoo.

Both dual moguls divisions will begin Sunday at 10:40 a.m., with awards in Gondola Square at 3:30 p.m.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

U.S. Freestyle Championships — Women’s moguls finals

1 Hannah Kearney, 91.19

2 Nessa Dziemian, 89.63

3 Keaton McCargo, 88.29

4 Mikaela Matthews, 88.26

5 Sophia Schwartz, 87.73

6 KC Oakley, 86.81

7 Lane Stoltzner, 85.21

8 Ali Kariotis, 85.01

9 Anna Park, 82.08

10 Hallee Ray, 81.70

11 Kelly Lawson, 81.51

12 Alex Jenson, 80.38

13 Elizabeth O’Connell, 79.04

14 Taryn Baker, 77.95

15 Morgan Shaver, 74.04

16 Sophia Marseilles, 64.19

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