Hannah Kearney competes in the moguls finals at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Saturday.
(Photo: Nathan Bilow-USA TODAY Sports)
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - American Hannah Kearney won the bronze medal late Saturday night in women's moguls, falling behind on her final run to Canadian sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, who won the gold and silver respectively.
Kearney made mistakes on her final run and scored 21.49. Justine Dufour-Lapointe, 19, won with a score of 22.44. Her older sister Chloe scored 21.66.
The third Dufour-Lapointe sister, Maxime, also competed for Canada in the moguls final.
It was the second medal for the U.S. on the opening day of the Games. But it was little consolation to Kearney, who was emotional after the competition.
"I know it's up to me to see the positive; I did win a medal for the U.S. and that will help our medal count," she said before starting to cry. "But as you can hear in my voice, that's really hard."
Since the sport's debut at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, no freestyle skier has been able to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
It's a trend Kearney was positioned to break. The 27-year-old American entered Saturday's women's moguls final with the highest qualifying score and as a favorite to repeat her winning performance from Vancouver four years ago.
She bobbled the early part of her runs and was unable to put a complete run together Saturday night. "I think I really gave it away is what it felt like," Kearney said. "It was mine to ski for. I did try my best, the only positive I can see I guess is I didn't lose because I was conservative or being complacent.
"No one in life wants the best part of their career to be behind them, and unfortunately that's what it feels like right now," Kearney added.
She hasn't announced plans to retire immediately, but she knows the 2016 Games in PyeongChang aren't in her plans. Kearney tore her ACL in 2007 and returned to win her first gold in Vancouver - an example that should help teammate Heidi Kloser, who suffered torn knee ligaments and a broken leg in a training run crash here on Thursday.
A fall last year in preseason training may have been the worst of Kearney's career, with broken ribs and internal injuries. Rehab forced her to miss the start of the World Cup season, but by the time it was over, she was the champion.
Meanwhile, younger riders have begun to catch up, like Chloe (22) and Justine Dufour-LaPointe, and 15-year-old Perrine Laffont of France.
American Eliza Outtrim was sixth.
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