PARK CITY, Utah -- Travis Mayer and Shannon Bahrke earned berths in the Winter Olympics freestyle competition Monday, and perhaps ended the bids of two gold medalists' returns to the games in the process.
Mayer, 19, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., won the men's moguls event in the U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup, accumulating 27.56 points out of a possible 30.
Mayer may well have qualified for an Olympic spot by virtue of a second-place finish in a World Cup event last week at Steamboat Springs. But he was assured a spot by capturing the winner-take-all victory in the Gold Cup.
His victory may have eliminated 1998 Olympic moguls champion Jonny Moseley, who has had indifferent results this season and certainly needed a Gold Cup victory to be sure of the chance to defend his title. Moseley dazzled a large and enthusiastic crowd with a jump he's dubbed "The Dinner Roll" but had some trouble skiing the bumps and finished ninth.
Shannon Bahrke, 21, of Tahoe City, Calif., won the women's moguls, a serious blow to Donna Weinbrecht, 36, of West Milford, N.J., the 1992 Olympic moguls winner who is bidding for a fourth Olympic trip. Weinbrecht finished fourth Monday.
Moseley's new jump, in which his skis come precariously close to going above his head - a violation of moguls rules - came about "because I was getting bored with everything. It doesn't give me any adrenaline to go out there and do the same old stuff" he used in winning in 1998. "Shouldn't this next Olympics have something better?"
To introduce something new in this Olympics, Moseley first must earn the trip and there's no guarantee he can do that.
"I've got four World Cup events left (before the Games) and I'll just keep going out there and doing the same thing until it hits."
Weinbrecht, a five-time World Cup champion with an American-record 46 career moguls victories, admitted she was concerned about her chances of making the field for Salt Lake.
"You're fighting for that last spot and there's great athletes fighting for it," she said. "The United States has been the dominant freestyle team for two decades and "I've never seen a team so talented, men and women."
Mayer stood on the bottom as the last competitor in the 15-racer field, Jeremy Bloom of Loveland, Colo., bolted down the Champion course. When Bloom stumbled a bit trying to land his second jump, Mayer let out a whoop knowing he had won the title.
"That probably wasn't too sportsmanlike of me to do that," Mayer said with a sheepish grin, "but I couldn't control it. I'm going to the Olympics!"
Mayer, with 27.56 points, edged Ryan Riley, 21, of Tabernash, Colo., by .42 points. Alex Wilson, 27, of Breckenridge, Colo., was third with 27.05 points.
Bahrke, 21, of Tahoe City, Calif., was a mere .07 better than 1998 Gold Cup winner Ann Battelle, 33, of Louisville, Colo., and .12 ahead of Hannah Hardaway, 23, of Castle Rock, Colo.
"A lot of my cousins and my brothers are up-and-coming moguls skiers and I want to help those guys," Bahrke said when asked how she would spend her $10,000 prize. "There'll be a shopping spree, but I want to help them"
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