Coming out on top
Lahtela takes moguls gold; American Mayer secondPosted: Tuesday February 12, 2002 2:57 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 12, 2002 4:09 PM
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) -- Jonny Moseley stole the show with his Dinner Roll on Tuesday. Then a fellow American, Travis Mayer, came along and bumped Moseley off the medals stand.
Skiing the last run of the day, Mayer won the silver medal in Olympics men's moguls, behind gold medalist Janne Lahtela of Finland.
Richard Gay of France won bronze, leaving Moseley in fourth even after pulling off his revolutionary jump without a hitch.
"I thought I stuck two sweet jumps today," said Moseley, the trendsetter who won gold four years ago in Nagano. "That was my personal goal -- to come out here and put on a good show."
Mayer's silver was something of a surprise. On the U.S. developmental team less than a year ago, he qualified for the Olympics at the Gold Cup in December, an event in which the winner gets an automatic spot in the games regardless of what he does the rest of the year.
"I was just hoping to come out and have a good time," Mayer said. "To make the Olympics was way beyond my expectations this year. I thought if I skied my best for a couple runs, that would be a great day. To end up second behind one of the greatest moguls skiers ever, it's the ultimate Olympic experience, pretty much."
Mayer won medal No. 7 of these Olympics for the Americans - six of which have come in the new-age sports of freestyle skiing and snowboarding.
His surprise was a nice ending to an event that Moseley defined and energized, even though he didn't win anything for his efforts.
In the seconds leading up to his historic run, the chant of "Mo-seley, Mo-seley, Mo-seley" rang out from the rowdy flag-waving crowd that was pro-American, but really, more pro-Jonny.
Moseley smiled and pumped his fists, then pushed off from the starting line.
For his top jump, Moseley executed a triple twister, flying off the ramp and moving the skis 90 degrees right, then left, then right again. That was the warmup.
The Dinner Roll was the main course -- revolutionary, controversial and exciting, and unlike anything anybody else tries.
After approaching the second ramp, Moseley took off, got his body almost parallel to the ground and did two side rolls, the first with his skis crossed, the second with them parallel.
The crowd gasped, then went wild after the smooth landing.
Always the showman, Moseley headed straight toward the stands when he finished, where he started high-fiving anyone and everyone. He even thought about jumping the fence to celebrate, before an Olympic worker talked him out of it.
For 15 magical moments, Moseley was in first place with a score of 26.78, and his quest to push this sport into the future with the unheard-of jump looked like it would pay off with more than just good publicity.
But Gay, who had never finished above fourth in world-class competition, knocked him out of first with the help of a triple-twister spread and a little bit faster time.
Then came Lahtela, the 1998 silver medalist, who is more technically precise than almost any skier in the world. He goes faster, smoother and more upright between the bumps. A quad-twist at the top and a triple-twister spread -- both conventional jumps, but very difficult to pull off successfully -- put him over the top.
He was the winner, but like everyone else, he knew the Dinner Roll was the talk of the slope.
"It's a great jump, no doubt about that," Lahtela said. "But
you need a lot more than one jump to win the competition."