Updated: February 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm
SOCHI, Russia – In the middle of a jubilant Canadian family party stood one distraught American.
Hannah Kearney traveled to Russia expecting to defend her gold medal in women’s mogul. She instead settled for bronze.
Medalists, whether gold, silver or bronze, are usually happy, or at least act as if they are, when their competition ends.
Not Kearney. She cried. She struggled to speak. She wanted more. She expected more. And she did not mind saying so.
“Nobody in life wants the best part of their career to be behind them and that’s how it feels right now,” said Kearney, who won gold in moguls in Vancouver in 2010. “I had my chance. Unfortunately, it was in the past.”
While Kearney stood talking to a few reporters, Justine and Chloe Dupour-LaPointe were surrounded by a throng of cameras and recorders and gleeful Canadians. Justine won gold, and her sister Chloe claimed silver.
Kearney’s chance to again rule in the moguls ended on her second run. She lost her balance and lurched forward on one ski. This miscue cost her in scoring and doomed her to bronze when she clearly hoped for gold. Kearney finished at 21.49, behind Chloe’s 21.66 and Justine’s 22.44.
The sisters delivered an impressive performance, but Kearney believes she could have again returned to America with a gold.
“I felt like I was the person who beat myself today,” she said. “…In the past four years, I’ve had immense success. It’s very disappointing that the time I chose not to win was at the Olympics.”
Kearney was asked why she was crying, even though she had claimed a medal. She stuck with her message of the night.
“Oh, because I was a gold medalist,” she said. “That, to me, is clearly going backward.”