Richards leaps to golden start

Landing gold and silver medals in Suomo, Finland last weekend released a huge amount of pressure from Kristi Richards.

Landing gold and silver medals in Suomo, Finland last weekend released a huge amount of pressure from Kristi Richards.

The feat, accomplished in back-to-back World Cups during the weekend, gave the Summerland native her second career World Cup win and a sure feeling to qualify for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

“It was a week full of surprises, beginning with a last minute decision to host an extra World Cup event on Friday to make up for the cancelled event in France,” said the 2007 world champion in Finland. “I was excited about the new opportunity to compete twice on this course and I felt confident and ready because of the training and competition experience that I already had from the Europa Cups. It was to my advantage that I had already spent a week on the course.”

Other competitors had only one day to prepare after arriving on Wednesday. The extra time for Richards removed any challenge the hill would provide and as she put it, made the competition about “perfection.”

“One small mistake would cost you a podium finish,” said Richards, a 2006 Olympian. “You had to really prove to the judges by being that much faster, that much cleaner and jump that much better than the others. I am really happy about my turns and speed, which won the event for me on Friday.

“I really feel like everything that I have been working on over the past three and a half years is coming together,” she continued.

“I know that I have put in the time, effort and focus. I am confident in my technique and I am in the best physical shape of my career. This weekend’s performance was just a small taste of what I am capable of.”

This is the first time that Richards has received the coveted yellow bib, making her the World Cup overall points leader. The position means a lot to Richards and reinforces the fact she is confident her inconsistencies from last season is no longer an issue.

To solidify a spot on the Olympic team, which will be announced Jan. 25, Richards said one more top-five finish would be ideal.

With her next World Cup event in Calgary Jan. 8-10, Richards said discipline is a key to keeping the rhythm, but she also plans to enjoy the company of those close to her.

“I’m going to go home and ski and be with friends and family,” she said.

“Just relax.”

Kristi Richards of Summerland jumped to second place at a FIS freestyle moguls event in Suomu, Finland, Dec. 12. On Friday, Richards earned her second career World Cup victory.

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