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Ski notebook

Ski notes: Vermonters on winning streaks

Kearney and Clark on long runs

Hannah Kearney, center, has visited the podium often this winter.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Hannah Kearney, center, has visited the podium often this winter.

Must be something about those Vermont hills.

Hannah Kearney and Kelly Clark are hoping to extend long winning streaks.

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Kearney’s eyeing sweet 16 and 17 consecutive World Cup wins going into tomorrow and Saturday’s events in Naeba, Japan.

Last Sunday in China, the Norwich, Vt., Olympic champion mogul skier notched her 15th straight World Cup victory since Jan. 22, 2011, and broke Alpine icon Ingemar Stenmark’s all-discipline mark of 14 set between 1978-80.

“She usually skis best when she has a challenge or task to improve on,’’ said US moguls coach Garth Hagor. “It makes her hungry to perform.’’

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Kearney’s been scoring a half-point or more higher than her closest competitors, a rather wide margin.

Among those hoping to end her streak are Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Montana’s Heather McPhie.

The dominating Clark is in Oslo for the World Snowboarding Championships. Should she win Saturday’s women’s halfpipe, the two-time Olympic medalist from West Dover, Vt., will capture her 15th consecutive pipe victory.

Her streak has included winning the Dew Cup last Saturday in Snowbasin, Utah, after edging Gretchen Bleiler and earning an X Games gold in January, her fourth. She also won the US Grand Prix at Copper in early December.

Clark’s impressive run began Jan. 7., 2011, at the O’Neill Evolution tour in Davos, Switzerland. Along the way she’s won twice at Winter X Games in Aspen and picked up Euro X Games, and US, Canadian, and New Zealand Open victories.

Making best of it

On the cusp of February school vacation weeks, ski area operators are touting technology during this season of snowmaking.

Instead of snow from above, manmade winter has brought snow to the slopes during a time of below-normal snowfall.

Skiing and riding families will take advantage of a variety of activities and events largely courtesy of about three months of snowmaking.

“The season has proved to be challenging given the lack of snow and the warm weather in places like Boston and Providence,’’ said Ski New Hampshire’s Karl Stone. “Most people have bare ground in their yards while the current stretch of consistent cold weather has the downhill and cross-country areas in New Hampshire in excellent shape.’’

Stone says technology has become a crucial part of the ski industry.

“You would never choose to have a winter with low amounts of natural snow, but it is reassuring to the ski areas that the investments they’ve made in their snowmaking systems truly pay off in winters such as this,’’ he said.

Ski Maine executive director Greg Sweetser says live webcams, videos, and blogs have become tools in spreading the word about snow in Maine.

“In spite of all the messaging, there is still nothing like a good ol’ nor’easter to get people to grab their gear and head to the hills,’’ he said.

But until then, at least the roads are clear.

Sweetser said the weather pattern looks pretty friendly for the weekend, with moderate temperatures, “so we’ll have good driving conditions on the major arteries to the ski areas in Maine.’’

Quad for Crotched

Southern New Hampshire’s Crotched Mountain plans to install a high speed detachable quad to its summit for next season. The quad comes from defunct Mount Ascutney in Vermont and is part of a $3 million capital investment that includes three new trails - an easy one off the top and two to terrain parks - and a pair of gladed areas.

The quad replaces a fixed grip chair and has a projected sub-four-minute ride time.

“We hope to break ground by late summer,’’ said general manager Pat Terry.

The new trails at the Bennington ski area will be lit for night skiing and receive snowmaking coverage.

In the Mount Washington Valley, Cranmore management is mulling retiring the red East Bowl double on the southeast side of the mountain and replacing it with a triple.

“That lift was built back in the 1950s,’’ said president and general manager Ben Wilcox.

According to Wilcox, the triple would extend further down the mountain than the current lift and provide better access to trails such as blue square Artist Falls, steep Koessler, and underused terrain at the North Conway, N.H., resort.

Making the jump

More than 60 international ski jumpers, many seeking 2014 Olympic berths, take to the 90-meter Harris Hill Ski Jump in Brattleboro, Vt. this weekend. The two-day tournament is the only US stop on the International Skiing Federation schedule and also serves as the US American Ski Jumping finals . . . Ski with freestyle pioneer Wayne Wong at Nashoba Valley tomorrow through Sunday. The Canadian Ski Hall of Famer created several legendary early tricks . . . The coming week is loaded with family-oriented events across New England, including the always popular Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. It will be at Connecticut’s Mount Southington (Feb. 18), Mount Sunapee (Feb. 21), and Black Mountain in Jackson, N.H. (Feb. 22).

Kostelic hopeful

Overall World Cup leader Ivica Kostelic said he hopes to return to competing within a month despite having a knee operation.

The defending overall champion underwent surgery in Basel, Switzerland, after partially tearing cartilage in his right knee during his super-combined victory in Russia last Sunday.

He said upon his return to Zagreb, Croatia, yesterday that the best-case scenario would be returning March 10 at the World Cup slalom race in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

Kostelic holds a 70-point lead over Beat Feuz of Switzerland in the overall standings. The Croat clinched the super-combined title with last Sunday’s victory.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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