Vail’s Vonn takes slalom titie; Schelper second
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn won the women’s slalom, edging Sarah Schleper and Julia Mancuso Sunday at the U.S. alpine ski championships at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska.
David Chodounsky sped past veteran Jimmy Cochran in the second run of the slalom Sunday to win men’s gold.
“Oh my God, I can’t even explain it right now,” said Chodounsky, captain of the Dartmouth ski team and an NCAA slalom champion. “I’m so happy. I’ve been working so hard for something like this and finally got the race I was looking for this year.”
Chodounsky won his first national title in challenging conditions.
Six inches of new snow fell overnight, covering a layer of ash spewed by Mount Redoubt. The ash ” tiny ground rock that can damage lungs ” reached Mount Alyeska just after the men’s downhill races Saturday as winners were mounting a podium to accept medals.
Then seven more inches of snow fell before and during the competition, said Alyeska Resort spokesman Jason Lott.
Cochran led after the men’s first run in 51.28 seconds, ahead of Tim Jitloff (51.44), Cody Marshall, (51.51) and Chodounsky (51.52).
“I knew I could make it up,” Chodounsky said. “The second run, I was really in focus.”
Cochran was the reigning champ and had taken two additional slalom titles on Mount Alyeska before Chodounsky snapped his streak.
“I’m not to happy about that,” Cochran said, smiling. “That’s a real bummer. I was feeling good after the first run, but oh, well, that’s slalom. Anything can happen.”
Marshall finished third.
On the women’s side, the race came down to the three veterans.
Mancuso had plenty of reasons for falling behind ” she’s recovering from the flu and she flew all night Friday to arrive in Anchorage at 7 a.m. Saturday ” as Vonn edged Mancuso by .31 seconds for the title.
“It was cool to be duking it out with your friends, that’s what makes U.S. championships so much fun,” she said. “Julia and I were tied going into the second run, then Sarah has a super impressive run to move up ” it was pretty exciting.”
Especially for Schleper, who’s back racing after taking time off for knee surgery and a baby.
“Just to get back on the podium and nationals is cool,” said the four-time national champion.
She had the fastest second run and nearly caught Vonn for the title. Schleper said she could feel herself holding back on her second run and had to tell herself to go hard in the soft snow.
“These conditions are very rare,” she said. “Most of the year we’re skiing on ice. It’s a kind of a different technique to ski on the softer snow. You have to be really soft in the legs and just absorb the terrain in-between the gates.”
The women’s giant slalom is scheduled for Monday.