Jeremy Cota had his best finish in the Olympic moguls qualifying races Wednesday, but it still left him shy of earning a berth in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Cota, from Greenville, finished 10th in the World Cup moguls race at Lake Placid’s Whiteface Mountain in New York. But American skiers finished second, third and fourth in the team’s best showing, putting pressure on Cota to get a top-three podium finish in the final qualifying event Sunday at Val St. Come, Quebec.
“Yep, I pretty much need a podium,’’ said the 25-year-old Cota. “I still think I’m capable of doing it. I’ll have one race to ski my absolute best.’’
Cota, who entered the qualifying races as a top contender, finished no higher than 19th in four previous qualifying events.
Maine’s other Olympic moguls hopefuls, Troy Murphy of Bethel and Dave DiGravio of Farmington, finished 30th and 31st.
Murphy entered the race as the third-ranked U.S. moguls skier, based on a fifth-place finish in his first qualifier at Deer Valley in Utah last week. But after Wednesday’s results, with Patrick Dineen finishing second, Bradley Wilson third, Bryon Wilson fourth, Sho Kashima seventh and Cota 10th, he likely will drop.
Dineen has been the top moguls skier for the U.S. team throughout the qualifying races. Cota had said coming into the Lake Placid event that the Wilson brothers were capable of very high finishes. They did just that.
“They were skiing well today,’’ he said, “and I think the results showed.’’
Cota said he felt good in both his runs, and felt he could have been scored higher in his second run, where he finished with a score of 23.85.
“I think I held back a bit,’’ he said. “I wanted to get a couple of solid runs under me coming off the last few events, so I think I was a bit conservative.
“But I also think that my finals run could have done a little better than it did, but that’s part of the sport. Sometimes that run will put you on the podium, sometimes it gets you 10th.’’
Now it’s on to Quebec for one final qualifier for Cota. DiGravio’s qualifying races are done. It is uncertain whether Murphy will race in Quebec.
“I did a little better,’’ said Cota. “I’m on the right track. Hopefully I can lay down my run. I’m going to go for it for sure.’’
The Sochi Winter Games begin competition Feb. 6 with opening ceremonies Feb. 7.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: