Vail’s Sarah Schleper wins super combined title |

Vail’s Sarah Schleper wins super combined title

Geoff Mintz
Daily correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Sky-Hi News |

WINTER PARK – After winning her first U.S. alpine championship in the slalom Sunday, Mikaela Shiffrin had some big plans: algebra homework.

It’s not certain at the moment if the newly turned 16-year-old is the youngest national champion ever, U.S. Ski Team officials said after the race, but she’s pretty close. (Julia Mancuso had some young wins, also.)

“Oh, my gosh. Sarah (Schleper) and Resi (Stiegler) have been so supportive. Going over to Europe, they were so nice, and beating them today was crazy for me. But the better part of it was that they were still supportive of it,” Shiffrin said, choking back tears.

U.S. Ski Team members Schleper and Stiegler took second and third, respectively, at the race.

Growing up in Avon, Shiffrin spent her early racing days skiing out of Vail. Lately, she’s been spending her winters training and racing with Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont, partially for the caliber of the club and partially because her father works as an anesthesiologist at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. She spends her summers in Avon.

As she ripped the Winter Park slalom course with the steady precision of an obviously talented young racer, onlookers couldn’t help wonder if they were watching a legend in the making.

Shiffrin said one of her goals was to be the youngest girl to ever start at a World Cup race. And, while that official record is also unsure at this point, it’s safe to say she at least got pretty close to that mark, having started two races in the Czech Republic last month – a giant slalom and slalom, neither of which she finished. She has also collected a handful of NorAm wins, taking on many of the continent’s best racers.

This summer, she’s planning to ski every couple of weeks to not lose her feel for the snow, but when she’s not skiing, she will be living in Avon and doing some dry-land training at the Homestead Court Club in Edwards.

A win is a win, whether it’s on paper or at the finish line.

Vail native Sarah Schleper snagged her sixth national title with the best combined slalom and super-G times from the weekend – a “paper race,” the U.S. Ski Team calls it because they take results from other self-standing races.

“I wanted a championship title, of course, but I’m happy with a couple of silvers,” Schleper said prior to being informed that she had won the super combined. “That GS really hurts, too, because I had it by so much on the first run.”

Schleper was confined in drug testing immediately after the race, so it took some time to get the good news to her. But when she found out, she said she is happy for any type of win, on paper or not.

“I’m really excited for Mikaela and everything that’s going on,” Schleper said. “It was really exciting to see. It stings a little, but it’s cool.”

Schleper may have taken the brunt of some bad luck, as the weather changed drastically just before her first run, for which Shiffrin had much better conditions. Schleper won the second run but basically wrote off the weather as a major factor in the overall result.

“I think I got a little unlucky, but that’s ski racing; that’s our sport,” Schleper said. “You’ve got to be able to take whatever Mother Nature hands to you and do your best. Today my best was second.”

Another result worth noting is Devin Delaney (not a local herself but her brother, Sean, and sister, Carling, have raced in the local town series for years). She took 10th overall, second for the juniors, with a scorching second run.

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