Vonn wins slalom, Vail’s Ghent takes 11th
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine Lindsey Vonn, the overall women’s World Cup champion, and Jimmy Cochran won slalom titles at the U.S. Alpine Championships on Saturday in a competition delayed because of rain, snow and wind.Vonn led both runs to win the event, which is not her strongest, with a combined time of 1 minute, 26.31 seconds for her first career win at Sugarloaf. Hailey Duke was second in 1:28.21 and Jenny Lathrop finished third in 1:28.42.”I’m still skiing well even though I’m completely fried,” Vonn said. “It proves that my hard work in the summer has paid off and there’s still some strength in the old legs.”Cochran successfully defended his title with a combined time of 1:26.69, with Cody Marshall (1:27.90) second and Tim Jitloff (1:28.16) third.The only thing that could’ve made the win better would’ve been if Ted Ligety and Bode Miller had been competing, Cochran said. Miller was resting after winning the men’s overall World Cup title, and Ligety, who holds the World Cup giant slalom title, has an injured thumb.”Every race he’s in he makes it more difficult to win,” Cochran said of Miller, a fellow New Hampshire resident, “but I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”Organizers altered the schedule several times in response to changing weather with winds gusting to 90 mph that shut down the mountain on Friday. Other events to be run over the course of the five-day championships include the downhill, Super G and giant slalom.Vonn’s victory in the opening event comes after she and Miller won overall World Cup titles for the first American sweep since Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney did it 25 years ago.No one seemed to be more surprised by her success than Vonn, who didn’t start the season expecting to be in the hunt for a World Cup title. The former Lindsey Kildow was coming off an injury that cut last season short, and she returned to skiing after getting married in September.Despite her World Cup success, Vonn said she was still pleased to win another national title.”It means something to me. I know when I was 15 and 16 and coming up in the ranks, I thought that was the coolest thing ever to be the U.S. national champion,” she said.The day started with the official announcement that Sasha Rearick will serve as men’s head alpine coach, replacing Phil McNichol, who announced his retirement last week.Rearick, who was expected to arrive at Sugarloaf on Sunday, graduated from Maine’s Gould Academy and Western State University in Colorado. He taught and coached at ski schools in Vermont and France before joining the U.S. Ski Team coaching staff in 2002.Rearick will help the team build on its success, said Bill Marolt, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. “It’s a great time in the evolution of competitors and our program,” Marolt said in between races. “We’ve got a good foundation on which to grow.”There was no talk of simply “maintaining” the status quo after the team’s success this year. Instead, there’s only talk of moving forward.”We don’t want anyone to say we’re maintaining,” Marolt said. “Maintaining only means that you’re getting ready to move backward.”
Ski & Snowboard Club Vails Erika Ghent has been to enough U.S. Alpine National Championships to know they arent a place to ski conservatively. So after a mediocre first run that put her in 23rd place in Saturdays slalom, Ghent let it fly on her second pass, moving her all the way up to 11th.It was so much fun, said Ghent, who picked up her career best finish at the national championships. I know I can ski the way I did. It was just really good to prove it to myself against the best girls in the nation.After a multi-day break from the slopes because of high winds, Ghent had a slow start to the first event of this years event.I was really disappointed, she said. I just wasnt taking any chances. I didnt let it go and theres no room for that. I was pretty bummed, and it helped me with my second run.Ghent, running early in the flip 30 order for the second run, had a screaming run of 42.54 seconds, which was the fourth-fastest run. Ghents combined time of 1 minute, 32.82 seconds was 0.08 seconds off ninth place.My second run was the best Ive raced all year, said Ghent, who has been to the national championships four times before. It feels normal to race against these girls.SSCVs Delainey Ackerman was 32nd, followed by teammates Joelle Chevalier in 34th and Abby Ghent in 35th; all three are J2 skiers.Its really fun to be with hero here, Erika Ghent said of her younger sister Abby.On the mens side, Vails Hunter Schleper, who skis with Iced Out Racing, placed 21st, third among J2s. SSCVs John Kemp was 32nd, while Iced Out Racings Kitt Flowers, a J2, was 36th.Vail Daily Sports Writer Ian Cropp contributed to this report
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