Wow, what an amazing moguls competition. We saw some of the toughest athletes in the world at the top of their game. Reigning world champion Hannah Kearney said the rain was refreshing. The Vermonter with signature pigtails poking through her helmet was definitely focused Saturday. Kearney deserves a bucket-load of admiration. She was the favorite to win in Torino but didn't have the Games she had hoped for and failed to make the finals. On Saturday night, Kearney dominated in her air, her turns and her speed and was clearly the gold-medal winner.
Four years of preparation of body, mind and spirit, and it all came down to this – the pinnacle of a journey that started all those years ago for the athletes at the top of the Olympic moguls course Saturday.
Knowing that you have to put it all together in two runs of less than 30 seconds can be either overwhelming or inspiring. You can freeze up under the pressure and become stiff, which is completely anti-moguls skiing. Or you can embrace the moment and use the energy and atmosphere around you to your advantage, channeling the intense pressure into energy to become a quick-twitch, focused competitor. You have to resist the temptation to think about the outcome. In that state of mind you become open. You are in the present and the now, and that's when you allow yourself to win. That's how it was for me exactly 18 years ago, and that's what we saw from Kearney on Saturday night.
Heil comes up short
The pressure was on for Jennifer Heil, with the hope of her entire nation that she would bring Canada its first Olympic gold medal as a host country. I know first-hand exactly what kind of pressure Heil was under. The weight of a whole nation's expectation is a lot to bear. She skied well but had a few gaps in her performance.
Heartbreak for Heather McPhie
My heart goes out to America's breakthrough star Heather McPhie, who was skiing brilliantly until she pushed her feet through on the landing of a huge back layout. Her skis got away from her and she crashed. She has come so far this year, starting on the U.S. C-Team and ending up on the largest stage on the world. I'm sure she will have her day.
'Sparky' Bahrke goes out with a bang
A special word about my friend Shannon Bahrke: Her bronze medal brought a smile to her face and lit up the whole course. Her enthusiasm and positive attitude was overflowing. She will surely be missed on the tour when she retires at the end of this year. What a way to go out!
Looking ahead to Sunday: Men's moguls
What I would say to the U.S. men's moguls team after seeing the U.S. women ski Saturday is that they need to believe in themselves and great things can happen. All four members of the men's moguls squad are competing in their first Olympics. I'm sure they don't know what to expect, but after Saturday they should be inspired.