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Historic gold, Kearney bronze highlight first day from Sochi

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

VIEWS like this are common in the mountains outside Sochi, Russia. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 12, 2014
SOCHI, Russia — The first day in Sochi proved to be a pretty eventful one, and in a good way.

After arriving late and getting very little sleep, I made the three-bus trek from the hotel to the Rosa Kutor Extreme Park in the mountains outside Sochi. The ride to the mountain cluster was scenic and as we got closer and closer, the mountains seemed to tower over us.

Having mapped out a list of events I wanted to cover, trying to see as many local people as I could while making the travel as easy as possible, I had selected the freestyle venue as my first choice. Waterville Valley skier Hannah Kearney was slated to compete in the evening in the moguls competition, so I decided to check out the inaugural snowboard slopestyle event in Olympic history.

I watched from the base, as Sage Kotsenburg of the United States had a spectacular first run, finishing with 93.5 points to easily outdistance the field in the first run.

In slopestyle, competitors get two runs through a course featuring rails and jumps, but only their best run counts on the scoreboard.

Kotsenburg's first run held up throughout the competition and he took home the first gold medal of the Sochi Games, with Staale Sandbech of Norway finishing in second with 91.75 points on his second run and Mark McMorris of Canada had a strong second run to finish in third with 88.75 points.

After spending some time in the venue media center typing and going through pictures, I made the trek over to the other section of the freestyle venue for the moguls competition.

I met up with Dan Egan of Thornton, who is working for boston.com at these Games. As an accomplished freestyle skier, it was great to have someone to get information from when it comes to the technical aspects of the sport.

Kearney didn't have a great run in the round of 20, finishing in seventh place, but she bounced back strong in the round of 12, finishing first with a total score of 21.92, just ahead of Chloe Dufour-Lapointe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada (a total of three Dufour-Lapointe sisters competed in the event).

Kearney had a couple of small mistakes in her final run down the course and finished in third overall with a score of 21.49, with Justine Dufour-Lapointe as the winner and her sister in second place.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com

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