Littman is second at U.S. Nationals |

Littman is second at U.S. Nationals

Ian CroppVail, Colorado CO
Special to the DailyJulia Littman, left, stands on the podium after her second-place finish in Fridays downhill at the U.S. National Alpine Championships in Girdwood, Alaska.

GIRDWOOD, Alaska Give her a downhill piste, and Julia Littman will go fast.On Friday, Vails Littman took second in the downhill at the U.S. Nationals in Girdwood, Alaska. The finish was Littmans first podium at nationals and was four spots higher than her previous best finish, which came at last years race in Sugarloaf, Maine.This was pretty much what I wanted, Littman said.Kaylin Richardson won the race, and Chelsea Marshall took third. Marco Sullivan won the mens race.Littman, who concentrated on training for speed this past summer, wasnt able to get in a ton of downhill races this season, as many were canceled because of weather.I was really excited because I had a couple of World Cup starts on the schedule, and a lot of Europa Cup starts, Littman said. This season turned out totally different because conditions were awful.Before U.S. Nationals, Littman was in Whistler, British Columbia, for the Canadian Nationals, where she had hoped to get some practice.That was the plan, Littman said. I was going to get some more downhill starts, but the weather didnt cooperate.After one day of shortened downhill training (which ended up being the length of a super-G course), Littman competed in some technical races and then headed to Alaska.Following two days of training, Littman took fourth in an International Ski Federation downhill race Thursday.The training runs before had gone all right, Littman said. Going into (Thursday) I knew I had to tighten up my line.

Earlier this year, Littman took first and third in a pair of downhill races at the same resort in Alaska. I came up to get a little more time on the track, but the course was a little different this time, Littman said. The course has a lot of varied terrain. … You look out from the top and can see out onto the ocean.The view from the course was equally as nice as the view from on the podium.It was a good way to end a bad season, Littman said. I think (nationals) is a really good event, and Im glad they have it. It gives me a taste that I can ski with the big guys and know that I can hold my own.Although shes enrolled at the University of Chicago for the spring, Littman took the first week off for nationals. After school, Littman said shell be back in Vail for dry-land training before the U.S. Ski Teams summer camp. The top finish will leave a good taste for Littman going into summer. Its definitely a great place to be at the end of the season with my confidence high, and it will keep me motivated, Littman said.

Ski & Snowboard Club Vails Erika Ghent was 16th in the downhill one day after taking 14th in the FIS downhill. Delainey Ackerman, a first-year J2 with SSCV, was 37th, while teammate Georgia Wettlaufer was 44th. Julia Mancuso was sixth.Sullivan, who missed two years after he tore his knee ligaments at the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey in 2004, won his first downhill nationals race. In 2002, Sullivan won a super-G at the nationals in Squaw Valley, Calif. Bode Miller was 12th. Bobby Poehling, of SSCV, was 45th, with teammate Will Gregorak in 61st.Racing continues today with a super-G.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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