U.S. freestyle skier Hannah Kearney and teammate Eliza Outtrim easily advanced to the second round of Sochi's moguls competition with strong finishes in Thursday's first qualifying event.
Kearney, the reigning Olympic champion with 25 world cup wins, notched the top score--23.05 out of a possible 30 points. She and Outtrim, who qualified with a socre of 21.51, compete against a smaller field of athletes in Saturday's knock-out style competition.
They will be joined by eight other qualifiers: Canadian sisters Chloe, Justine and Maxine Dufour-Lapointe; France's Perrine Laffont, Kazakhstan's Yulia Galysheva, Japan's Aiko Uemura and Russia's Regina Rakhimova.
This is the first year moguls skiers will compete in the new knock-out style format. Previously, the contest lasted two days with athletes advancing from the first round to a final medal round. The new format adds three additional contests--all scheduled for Saturday--with the top scorers in each advancing to the next.
In an interview with NBC Olympics, Kearney said that it was "strange to be testing out a new format at the Olympics," but added that she felt prepared. "I've never been in better shape," she said. "So bring it on."
Fellow teammates Heidi Klosser failed to qualify for the next round. A leg injury kept USA's Heather McPhie from competing Thursday. She will be reevaluated, however, and could return to competition Saturday, The Associated Press reported.
The ten qualifiers hit the slope again Saturday at 9 a.m. ET.