Stacey Cook wins first career national title |

Stacey Cook wins first career national title

AP photo Stacey Cook charges down the slope for a first-place finish in the super G at the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships Sunda in Carrabassett Valley, Maine.

SUGARLOAF, Maine – Olympian Stacey Cook spoiled Kirsten Clark’s homecoming parade Sunday, barreling past the local favorite to win gold – her first U.S. title – in super G at the TD Banknorth U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf, Maine.Clark, who went to school and learned to race at nearby Carrabassett Valley Academy, hadn’t raced at Sugarloaf since the 1997 U.S. championships had concluded. However, she won the FIS downhill Friday and swept the DH title Saturday.

Sunday, she was looking sold until Cook, skiing 13th, came down and upended her by .11 seconds. Cook’s winning time was 1 minute, 23.90 seconds with Clark taking silver in 1:24.01 and the bronze medal going to another Olympian, Kaylin Richardson, who finished in 1:24.04.Cook said she knew her performance was pretty good as she wrapped it up.”I was really excited half way down,” she said. “I knew I had nailed the hard section and I was just like ‘keep it together,’ because I knew I had a fast time through there and so I tried to keep it together for the bottom. I knew I had a good run when I crossed the finish line.”She said success by Mancuso, the Olympic giant slalom champion who also won two bronze medals at the 2005 World Championships, and Lindsey Kildow, who has won four World Cup downhills in the last two seasons, has helped spur the newer skiers to step up their performances. Mancuso, Kildow and Cook are all 21.

“We have so many young people on our team and the veterans, too. But there’s like five or six girls born in 1984 alone,” Cook said. “We have a young team and I think Julia and Lindsey’s success definitely pushes us. I know I feed off of it and I see them do it and I know I can do it, too. I just have to get more experience.”Clark wasn’t too broken up about taking silver.”I knew there were still some great girls still to come down,” she said. “You’ve just got to wait and see. I did my job. It’s a tight race. It was fun.”

Clark, the only American to win four consecutive U.S. downhill titles, was pleased to see her Olympic teammate earn her first gold medal. “I’m psyched for her,” Clark said of Cook. “She’s had a breakthrough year.”Mancuso finished fourth Sunday with Resi Stiegler in fifth and Jonna Mendes sixth.

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