Finally, racing on her own terms
ASPEN – For Lindsey Kildow, the World Cup starts here in Aspen.Kildow isn’t worrying much about her result from the opening race, a DNF at a slalom in Levi, Finland. “I was out of whack,” Kildow said. “Our bags didn’t show up. It was a total nightmare. I just wasn’t prepared for it.”But Kildow, a Ski Club Vail alumna, is as prepared as she could be for today’s giant slalom in Aspen.”I’ve been (in the U.S.) for two weeks now. I’m relaxed and I’ve been training well. My skiing is going really well. Anytime we can be in the U.S., it’s really good.”And add to those two weeks last year’s World Cup and Torino Olympics.”Every year you learn more and are more comfortable,” Kildow said. “I didn’t get the results I wanted to (in Torino), which is disappointing, but mentally I was 100 percent there.”After a crash in Austria back in October where she injured her right tibia, Kildow missed out on some technical training – an area she was hoping to improve on this year – but is still holding herself to a high standard. “That really set me back. I was skiing well in giant slalom in New Zealand (this summer), and I feel like I’m skiing well now, but I need to get into it again. Slalom is feeling good. I’m hoping for a top 10. My best finish is fourth, and I’m tempted to say (I’d like) a top-three finish, but this is a really tough hill.”
As good as Kildow feels on the slopes, there are some lingering effects of her October crash. Doctors have recommended the Kildow refrain from lower-body weight training.”I can’t do anything besides biking, core training and upper body,” Kildow said. “I’m going to get an MRI in a month, and if it’s healing well, I’ll be able to do (lower-body) stuff. I’m psyched I’m still able to be skiing. If feels great, and skiing is no problem.” Patrick Riml, the women’s head alpine coach, isn’t worried about Kildow’s training restrictions.”She did her job in the summer and spring time. That’s where you gain the most and prepare yourself for the winter,” Riml said. “Now it’s pretty much maintenance. As a four-even skier, there’s not a lot of time in the winter for (weight training).” Kildow said that in an ideal situation, she would take about six weeks off, but she’ll just do as much alternative training as possible.”I’ll get fed up with biking. I hope to have enough TV shows to last me the winter,” Kildow said. Jesse Hunt, the alpine director for U.S. Ski team, has plenty of confidence in Kildow.”At this point, she’s a veteran from coming back from an injury,” Hunt said. “We’re looking forward to seeing her (today).”Kildow may sit out a race or two later in the season, depending on how things progress.
Along with Kildow, Julia Mancuso is the top returning four-event skier for the Americans. Mancuso finished eighth overall in the World Cup standings, three places behind Kildow. In giant slalom, Mancuso was 11th, while Kildow, who was in the top 10 in all other disciplines, was 49th. Libby Ludlow, who finished 43rd overall in last year’s World Cup standings, is one of the top returning American giant slalom skiers (Kristina Koznick retired and Vail’s Sarah Schleper is taking time off).Last Friday, Ludlow broke her right thumb training at Keystone on a gate. Thursday, Ludlow was refit with another cast and is still adjusting. Friday, Ludlow, along with most of today’s field of 64 giant slalom skiers, spent 45 minutes free skiing. “It doesn’t hurt too bad to go free skiing, but I trained yesterday and when I hit gates, it hurt. It’ll be interesting (Saturday). “It’ll affect my start and how I hit the gates, because I can’t move my wrist the way I normally do. It feels totally different. When I’m thinking about how weird it feels, I’m not thinking about skiing.” Trained for successA distinct advantage the Americans have this weekend is snow and course familiarity.”We had a good training day here (last week) and that give me confidence that I can skill well on the hill were are going to race on,” said Jessica Kelly. “We had four giant slalom runs and a couple of slalom runs.” And since late October, the majority of the U.S. Ski Team has been training at Keystone.”We’ve had a good training block this fall, and we’re ready,” said Megan McJames, who is one of several skiers who will be making her first World Cup start this weekend. “They set up the snow really nicely, and they even injected the snow one day there.”Anja Paerson, a two-time World Cup overall champion, is also thankful for some training on similar conditions.”We had some really nice training (at Beaver Creek), and I’m in better shape now than in Levi,” Paerson said. “They injected the snow here, so it’s icier. I like the ice. The harder it is, the better.”
There will likely be a few new faces on this year’s podiums, as a trio of last year’s big finishers won’t be on the hill.Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister, who retired after last season, took second in the 2005 super-G; Spain’s Maria Jose Rienda, who injured her knee earlier this week training in Loveland and is out of the season, will not be able to defend her gold in the giant slalom; Croatia’s Janica Kostelic, who is taking the season off, captured the silver in last year’s slalom. “We lost a lot of great athletes who have a lot of character on the World Cup,” Kildow said. “It’s an opportunity to take their place and be a leader in the World Cup.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2935.