Ross beats Ross at nationals |

Ross beats Ross at nationals

Daily Staff ReportVail, CO Colorado
AP Photo/Pat WellenbachLauren Ross races to the finish line as she places first in the women's giant slalom Wednesday at the U.S. Alpine Ski Championship at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, Maine.

SUGARLOAF, Maine Lauren Ross powered through freshly falling snow to win the giant slalom on the closing day of the 2008 U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf, Maine, Wednesday.Im psyched to have this title. I had to get a little fired up for that last run, said Ross, who missed the entire 2007 season with a torn ACL. I was a little disappointed in how I skied in my first run so I knew there was a lot more to come for the second. I really had nothing to lose. I had a really solid run in the difficult section of the second run, so I knew it was going to be OK.This is the first national title for Ross, a U.S. Ski Team athlete and Dartmouth College student, who had been under the weather earlier in the week, but pulled it together to nail down her win with a time of 2:15.22.I hadnt been able to really put it together in races this season, but training has been going well and to finish out the season so strong is good, Ross said.Laurenne Ross, a U.S. Development Team athlete from the Mount Bachelor Ski Education Foundation program, finished second in the womens gian slalom at 2:15.31.It went pretty well but I think I gave it what I had, Laurenne Ross said. I think my season was up and down, but my ups were really good and this is a good end. Im just really happy for Lauren to win and with how things ended.The U.S. Ski Teams Libby Ludlow, also a student at Dartmouth, finished third with a combined race time of 2:15.71.Its nice to finish the season on the podium. To be on the podium for nationals is satisfying, Ludlow said.The Tom Garner Regions Cup also was awarded at the end the womens competition to USSAs Western Region with 3,012 points. The Regions Cup is determined by points accumulated throughout the U.S. Championships from the top 10 finishers of each event. The East finished second with 2,623 points, followed by Rocky Central with 1,428 points.This years U.S. Alpine Championships got off to a rocky start when a storm blew high winds in excess of 100 mph and forced event organizers to cancel training runs and the annual International Ski Federation downhill. Despite the weather, all U.S. Championship races were completed successfully.If you had told me last weekend that we would be here on a Wednesday afternoon having pulled off all the disciplines to be able to crown national champions, I would have thought you were a bit mad, Senior Events Manager Mike Henderson said. But its a testament to the race crews, the volunteers and the organizing committee of Sugarloaf who pulled off a fantastically exciting and successful National Championships.It was definitely a challenge but we had a good group of people making decisions and it all worked, said Sugarloaf Competition Director James McCormack. Its absolutely huge what the volunteers have done, as well. We couldnt have done it without them.

U.S. Ski Team Womens Head Coach Patrick Riml is leaving the team after five successful seasons, culminating in Lindsey Vonns overall and downhill World Cup titles this year. Alpine Director Jesse Hunt made the announcement following Wednesdays race.Patrick did an outstanding job in leading his team, Hunt said. He is a great coach who has the ability to make a connection with athletes and staff and lead them to success as a team. He made a great contribution to our program and we will miss him.Riml, an Austrian native, came to the U.S. Ski Team in 2001 as the Europa Cup head coach, and moved up to the top national team spot in 2003. He oversaw a program that produced strong athletic success, including the Olympic combined gold of Julia Mancuso in 2006, and World Championship medals in 2005 and 2007. Mancuso and Vonn each challenged for World Cup titles the last two seasons.Riml, who lives in Heber City, UT, had no specific plans but was looking forward to spending more time with his wife Jodi and daughter Raina.I had a great time and I always had a lot of support from the entire company, said Riml. It was a real pleasure to work for the U.S. Ski Team. It was a tough decision. I wasnt planning on it but my family is very important to me.Hunt indicated that he hopes to announce a new coach shortly to head the womens program.

So maybe Erika Ghent didnt get that top 10 she had hoped for at the U.S. Alpine Championships, but there was no regret on her end.Im really excited about how everything went, said Ghent, the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail racer. It was good to finally execute. I think it was the best series Ive had in all my life.Ghent closed out a stellar showing at nationals with an 11th-place finish in Wednesdays giant slalom, tying her best career finish at the event.After the first run, Ghent was in 14th place, but she had the ninth-best second run to move up a few spots.It was kind of the same way the slalom went, said Ghent, who had the second best finish among juniors Wednesday. I was kind of not that happy with the first run and I let the second one run out.Ghent took 11th in the slalom, 12th in the downhill and 13th in the super-G.It was good to be consistent in all of the events, Ghent said.Former Team Summit racer and Eagle resident Kirsten Cooper was 14th Wednesday. Cooper, who is on the U.S. Development team, was 25th after the first run, but put down the second-best final pass to move into the top 15 for the third time at this years nationals. Cooper was eighth in the super-G and 10th in the downhill.SSCVs Delainey Ackerman was 34th Wednesday with teammate Abby Ghent on spot behind her.Sports Writer Ian Cropp contributed to this report.

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