PARK CITY, Utah Two great dinner rolls does not a banquet make.
Jonny Moseley left the Deer Valley Resort as the people's champ Tuesday after twice nailing the Dinner Roll, his crowd-pleasing 720-degree twist. But he also left without an Olympic medal.
Travis Mayer, who was coming up in the U.S. freestyle junior program when Moseley found gold in Nagano, knocked Moseley out of medal contention with the last run of the day in the men's moguls competition.It was good enough for a second-place finish, and it knocked Moseley from third to fourth.
The gold medal went to Finland's Janne Lahtela, who was two seconds faster than Moseley down the bump-filled, 268-meter course, and more conservative in his two aerial tricks.
Mayer, a 21-year-old Steamboat Springs, Colo., native, took the silver after
a fast run with tight turns and two solid jumps: a helicross (the helicopter turn in the Iron Cross position) and a conservative triple twist on the bottom.
Moseley's nearly-inverted new trademark aerial, conducted almost flawlessly
in both preliminaries and the finals, wasn't enough to offset his time and form
in coming down the hill. In moguls, an athlete's total score is a combination of
time and the judges grading on tricks and form.
Tricks are for show and turns are for dough, is the standing line in moguls,
which means Moseley will have to be content with hosting Saturday Night Live in
March and making a good living in endorsements. But he did not leave Deer Valley
disappointed, the roaring approval of some 13,400 fans still fresh in his
"This was a great day for me,'' Moseley said. "I went for it and did
something unique, something special I wanted to do. Both times I landed I was
like, 'Woooohhh!' I was so stoked.
"I feel like I laid down a good run, and I think they scored it accordingly.
I was a little slow (28.56 seconds, to :26.55 for Lahtela and :26.57 for Mayer), but I did
better than I expected. I came back (after two years away from moguls skiing)
because I felt I should and because I had something to contribute. But I didn't
want to come back and do the same old things.''
Those "same old things'' worked well for Lahtela, who did the same aerials, a quad twister at the top and a triple with a spread at the bottom, that he did in
finishing second to Moseley in 1998 at Nagano.
"I've been injured, I didn't have time to put in any new tricks,'' said
Lahtela, who blew out his anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in his
knee in February of 2000.
But even if he had perfected some new tricks, Lahtela isn't sure he'd have
tried them in the Olympics.
"What Jonny is doing is really good for the sport,'' he acknowledged. "But I
don't know if the Olympics is the place to try something new. You don't work
four years and try something you're not sure will work. Not me anyway.''
Then, just for giggles, Lahtela said that he too had played with the Dinner
Roll, a name Mosley pulled out of the air.
How many times has he tried it? "About 100,'' he replied. How many times had
he nailed it. "Ninety-nine,'' he said with a straight face.
Good for him, Moseley might say. Let him show it in competition.
"The good thing about me losing is that I tried something really slick and
the crowd loved it,'' Moseley said. "I'm feeling amazingly good. There was a
time when I'd have been disappointed not getting the gold medal. But to me,
right now, performing like that is even more exciting.
"This sport should be exciting, it should be fun. We had that today. We had a
great competition, we had a great crowd. I think we put the free in freestyle,
and now I'm done with it as far as the moguls go.''
Mayer earned the right to ski last by posting the top qualifying score.
Lahtela had moved into first just ahead of him in the finals, then could only
watch from the bottom while the gold was being decided.
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