PARK CITY — Attention athletes: Sometimes coaches actually know what they're talking about.
A suggestion by the U.S. moguls coach to Jeremy Bloom gave him the edge in the semifinal round of the FIS World Cup dual mogul competition Saturday night at Deer Valley.
"I got a call before semis when I was at the top from my coach saying I should ski (the) red (line) against the Russian because he'd been skiing (the) blue (line) really well all day," said Bloom, who won his second event in three days and earned himself the yellow bib with enough points to take over the lead in the World Cup standings.
Because Bloom was the No. 1 seed and Russian Sharifulin was the 12th seed, Bloom had his choice of which side to ski in the head-to-head competition that is both a race and a judged event.
A mogul skier usually sticks with the same line on a course because that consistency can provide the comfort and confidence an athlete needs in a tough competition. But Bloom went with his coach's suggestion and skied an unfamiliar line.
"It was a long day," said Bloom, who won the mogul competition on Thursday at Deer Valley. "Five runs on one course takes it out of you."
In dual moguls, there is an element of unpredictably that comes from the racing aspect that is absent in standard mogul competition. There is also the added distraction to the skiers of the athlete racing down the hill next to them.
"For me it's really one run at a time," Bloom said. "In duals it's easy to get ahead of yourself. . . . You can see (your competitor) next to you. . . . I just try to have tunnel vision."
The U.S. freestyle team qualified six men and five women for the finals. Hannah Kearney, who took second in Thursday's event, was poised to win Saturday night when she under-rotated a back flip and landed on her back. The fall knocked the wind out of her and scared her coaches.
"I was quite worried for her," said head moguls coach Don St. Pierre. "We're going to have to pack her in ice. . . . Every dual is quite a risk above and beyond what we see in singles.
"But it's definitely an adrenaline rush, and from a fan's perspective, it's awesome to watch."
Kearney said she saw Canadian Jennifer Heil going into the second jump with her and was a bit distracted, but she's not quite sure what happened during her trick.
"I could see Jennifer next to me. . . . I forgot what I was doing or something," she said. "I was fortunate to land where I did."
Her fall gave Heil the win, and she, too, took over the World Cup standings and put on the yellow bib at Deer Valley.
Dale Begg-Smith of Australia finished second and 2002 Olympic gold medalist Janne Lahtela of Finland was third.
With Heil first and Kearney second, Nikola Sudova of the Czech Republic was third with a win over 2002 Olympic gold medalist Kari Traa.