Mancuso wins national GS; Vail’s Schleper second
Vail, CO Colorado
WINTER PARK – A second and a half inter-run gap wasn’t big enough to keep Julia Mancuso from claiming her third consecutive U.S. giant slalom title Friday at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Winter Park.
Mancuso, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in the discipline, trailed second-place finisher Sarah Schleper by 1.52 seconds after the first run. Mancuso cruised to the fastest run of the day (1 minute, 08.82 seconds) on the second run to take the win over Schleper with a 0.61-second margin. Downhill specialist Stacey Cook took her short skis for a ride to finish third, 1.94 seconds behind Mancuso.
“Sarah really layed it down first run. Maybe she shouldn’t have gone so fast, then I wouldn’t get so mad and want to ski fast. I like that kind of course, it was easy for me to see where I could go fast and just take risks,” said Mancuso, who landed her first World Cup victory in four years just two weeks ago. “It’s always hard to get back on the race skis after a little break, but second run I was a little more ready, it was softer but it was fun, a little wild ride like skiing in Squaw.”
The win marked Mancuso’s third straight national GS title (2009, 2010, 2011) and her 12th career national title across three disciplines.
Schleper crossed the line with a combined time of 2 minutes, 22.22 seconds.
“It was a frustrating loss but I knew Julia could beat me on a soft, straight course,” said Schleper of the intense competition among the the U.S. Ski Team’s World Cup regulars. “I didn’t want it bad enough obviously, I didn’t risk enough. I after the first run and I heard Julia’s time, I knew I had to go as fast as I could. I didn’t do that and that was the difference.”
“We have such a competitive team and Julia is always out there to win it, so you’ve got to put on your game face and really got out there with a mission. I still have the slalom and the super G – my first one since last nationals.”
Laurenne Ross finished fourth, 3.23 seconds behind Mancuso.
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Abby Ghent landed eighth overall as the top junior in the field. It is her second-best nationals result after finishing third in this season’s downhill race.
“It’s nice to be the top junior, but you are always shooting for the real podium,” Ghent said. “I tried to treat racing against girls like Julia and Sarah like they are any other competitor but it’s hard to – I’m kind of star struck. But it’s good to see them on the same course as me. I was two seconds off of Julia in the second run and she ripped, so that’s good.”
Mikaela Shiffrin, who grew up in Val and now attends the Burke Academy in Vermont, was the second-fastest junior. She was 10th in 2:25.55. Erika Ghent, Abby’s older sister, finished 13th in 2:27.31.
Nationals continue today with super-G for both the men and women.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.