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Skier Hannah Kearney back in form

Hannah Kearney celebrated victory in the Ladies' Moguls Final at the USANA Health Sciences Lake Placid FIS Freestyle World Cup on Jan. 19, 2012 in Lake Placid, New York.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Hannah Kearney celebrated victory in the Ladies' Moguls Final at the USANA Health Sciences Lake Placid FIS Freestyle World Cup on Jan. 19, 2012 in Lake Placid, New York.

Hannah Kearney is cleared for takeoff.

The Olympic moguls champ is returning to competition for the USANA Freestyle World Cup Jan. 17-19 in Lake Placid, N.Y., following an October training crash in Zermatt, Switzerland, that left her with two fractured ribs and minor internal injuries.

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“The timing is really good for her,” USSA freestyle director Todd Schirman said on Wednesday. “We had her skiing at Copper Mountain in December, and as of January 1 she’s cleared to jump and train at her full level.”

Kearney is training in Colorado for Lake Placid. She then will move on to another popular domestic venue, Deer Valley, and then the Sochi World Cup, a test for the 2014 Olympics.

Last winter was a successful one for the Norwich, Vt., freestyler, who earned 16 straight World Cup wins on the way to overall freestyle and moguls championships.

“I wouldn’t doubt that she wants to do better than she’s ever done,” Schirman said. “She wants to do better each year with a goal this season of the world championships making sure she’s on her way to Sochi.”

Base jumps

What a difference a year makes.

“We sure did need it, especially after last year and the winter that wasn’t,” said Nashoba Valley’s marketing and sales director, Pam Fletcher, of the conditions for the holiday vacation week.

A healthy dose of natural snow and some serious snowmaking blasts beefed up bases, opened dormant terrain, and brought revenue to ski areas.

Fletcher said Nashoba got only 9 inches of natural snow last winter, not including the freak 10 over Halloween. This winter, the area already has received a foot, and expects to be 95 percent open this weekend. Business was up 20 percent over the Christmas break.

“The natural snow is key to driving customers to the mountains,” Fletcher said. “Most people don’t think about it or desire to go skiing or snowboarding if they don’t see snow on the ground or in the forecast.”

Vermont’s Green Mountains were also white, a big change from Dec. 26, 2011, when Stratton in southern Vermont had spring-like conditions.

Stratton’s Myra Foster reported that a year later, the resort had 60 trails open and a 19-32-inch base.

“Double the trail count, double the fun,” she said.

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