KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Patrick Deneen fought his way into the Olympic super final in men’s moguls Monday night but could not come up with a medal-winning performance in a Canadian dominated event.
Canada’s Alex Bilodeau became the first freestyle skier to defend a gold medal by separating himself from countryman Mikael Kingsbury, who briefly lost control of one ski at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Another Canadian, Marc-Antoine Gagnon, was fourth. Canadian women also won gold and silver medals in moguls.
Deneen, of Cle Elum, Wash., took sixth. The other American in the 29-man field, Bradley Wilson of Butte, Mont., was eighth in the first qualifying run to make the finals, only to fall on his first jump in the first of three finals to finish 20th.
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Deneen, 26, who raced while growing up at Silver Mountain, Idaho, was forced to ski four runs after hitting a control panel in the first qualifying. He came back to finish first in the second qualifying, made the cut to 12 then had to sweat out 10 skiers going after him to earn the final spot in the super final.
“It wasn’t the run I was looking for, but one thing is every time I’ve done the 10 in (per qualifying) competition I’ve crashed so it was pretty cool to bring it out at the Olympics and stick two runs,” Deneen said. “That being said it just wasn’t my night. My run was close to being what should have been on the podium, but it just wasn’t quite there.”
Deneen improved from 19th at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and true to his nickname “Rocket” had the fastest run (23.83 seconds) of the night in the super final.
“I came here for a medal,” he said. “It wasn’t my night. I was skiing really well but in my finals run I just didn’t ski up to my potential. It just wasn’t a medal-quality run tonight.”
Deneen is third in World Cup standings behind Bilodeau and Kingsburg; Wilson is sixth.
“I went a little too hard (on his first jump),” Wilson said. “It’s a trick that’s been going really well all season, but I just wasn’t able to put it together here.”
Wilson, 21, believes the Olympic format requires one too many runs. “It’s kind of crazy, we come to the Olympics and this is the first time we’ve ever done this format. I’m not a big fan obviously since I crashed. If I’d been on the podium, I would have loved the format. Overall, though, I think we’ve we got going on World Cup (three runs total) is a good format.”
Jeff Metcalfe writes for The Arizona Republic.