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Jennifer Heil
Heil of Canada celebrates during women's final in moguls freestyle competition at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Saux d'Oulx, Italy February 11, 2006.
(Photo: Eric Gaillard/Reuters)
U.S. Skiers Disappoint in First Day
Women's Freestyle Moguls Medals go to Norway, Canada, and France.
By Molly Majewicz
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Sunday, February 11—The U.S. sent a strong team of skiers to complete in the Olympics this year, but faced a major disappointment in the first day of competition.

In women's freestyle moguls, only two of the team of four placed in the finals. Michelle Roark of Colorado qualified by placing fourth in trials, then came in 18th in the finals. The best finish for the U.S. was Shannon Bahrke of Nevada in 10th place. Bahrke was a silver medalist in the event in 2002.

This year's Gold medal went to Jennifer Heil of Canada, who was the last skier down the hill. She took first place from defending champion Kari Traa of Norway. Traa was hoping to be the only skier to ever win two gold medals in the event. Traa won the Silver, with the bronze going to Sandra Laoura of France.

It was a heartbreaking day, especially for Hannah Kearney of Vermont. The champion skiier never made it out of the qualifying round.

"I don't know. I messed up," Hannah said at the bottom of her disappointing—and disqualifying—run.

The other American woman competing was Jillian Vogtili of New York. Vogtli placed 11th in the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Utah. She failed to qualify for the finals this year.

Women's freestyle skiing is a very competitive sport. The skiers have to maneuver through moguls, or large mounds of snow. They must also gain enough speed to complete two jumps, called "kickers." The runs are judged on speed, style, and execution of maneuvers.

The event took place in Sauze d'Oulx, about 53 miles west of Torino in the Italian Alps.

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Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.