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American Leads Moguls Qualifying

By Salavtore Zanca
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, February 7, 1998; 11:18 p.m. EST

Johnny Moseley
American Jonny Moseley leads in the qualifying in the freestyle event.
(Paul Sakuma/AP)
IIZUNA KOGEN, Japan — American Jonny Moseley led the men's qualifying in the Olympic freestyle moguls, while one of America's top female hopes barely made it to the finals.

Ann Battelle, a gold-medal favorite, snagged the 16th and final spot Sunday (Saturday night EST) when a two-time world champion failed to finish.

Battelle, skiing next to last, had a poor run and found herself in 16th with Candice Gilg of France to ski. But Gilg, trying a "helicopter'' spin in which she turns 360 degrees in the air on the first of two jumps, fell off balance and nearly stopped.

She continued for the second jump but, disheartened after the error, skied off the course and stopped, giving Battelle the final qualifying spot.

"I thought I skied good enough for the top 10, but when I saw I was 16th I thought my Olympic experience was over,'' said Battelle, from Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Gilg said that after her troubles on the top jump, "I could have fought harder but I knew it was a huge mistake and I didn't have the energy to fight back.''

Donna Weinbrecht of West Milford, N.J., the gold medalist in the event from the 1992 Olympics, tied for first with Canadian Anne-Marie Belchat with 23.35 points. A tie-breaking procedure gave Pelchat the top spot, although the skiers start from scratch in Wednesday's final.

Liz McIntyre of Winter Park, Colo., the 1994 silver medalist, tied with Tatjana Mittermayer of Germany for third. That tie couldn't be broken.

Moseley, from Tiburon, Calif. scored 26.53 points to top the men's event on the 275-yard course that dropped about 105 yards. Finnish skiers Janne Lahtela and Sami Mustonen were second and third, 25.43 and 25.16.

Jean-Luc Brassard of Canada, the defending gold medalist from Lillehammer, had some ragged jumps and placed seventh in qualifying.

Moseley cemented his top spot in qualifying by doing a unique jump, called a 360-Mute-Grab jump. Among the freestyle skiers, he's the only one to do it.

"I plan to do it all week. I wasn't sure I would be able to do it with all the pressure and different situations,'' Moseley said. "It's one thing on the World Cup, but the Olympics are a different story.''

Another American, Alexander Wilson of Buffalo, N.Y. came in 10th with 24.32 points to advance to Wednesday's final. Jim Moran, of Stowe, Vermont, was 23rd and Evan Dybvig of Tunbridge, Vermont, did not finish, losing a ski between the first and second jumps.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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