KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Hannah Kearney toils in relative obscurity at women's moguls, where since the 2010 Olympics, she has positioned herself as the closest thing there is to a sure thing on snow.
She knows the deal. In her sport, there's one really big night every four years.
That's why the tears flowed hard Saturday night after she won an Olympic bronze medal that seems destined to land in a sock drawer back home in Norwich, Vt.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't feel good," she said. "It feels better to stand at the top of the podium."
She did that in 2010 — "The best prize ever," she called the gold medal that night.
It felt even better because of the heartache she'd endured four years earlier.
In 2006, Kearney was 19, the defending world champion and a good bet to contend for gold. Two turns into qualifying, she was all but gone — losing her bearings on a bump and never recovering. Didn't make it to the finals and finished 22nd.
Eight years later, it was a different bump — a mogul placed just after the landing on the top jump — that Kearney simply could not master. Not in practice, not in her first run, her second, or her third and final, where her left ski veered off line. The sort of error the judges simply do not miss.