Women’s downhill back in the U.S.
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL ” What Bode and Daron have done at Beaver Creek, Lindsey and Julia may now be able to do in Aspen.
For the first time in more than a decade, a World Cup women’s downhill race will be back in the United States when the tour makes a stop in Aspen this December.
“It’s going to be fantastic, particularly because of the team we’re fielding at the moment,” said U.S. Ski Team head alpine coach Jesse Hunt.
The women’s tandem of Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Kildow finished second and third, respectively, in the World Cup downhill standings last season and won two races apiece. Vail’s Kildow, who had four downhill podiums, missed the final two of the season due to a knee injury, while Mancuso picked up five downhill podiums.
At the men’s World Cup downhill venue in Beaver Creek, an American has won a race the past four years. Bode Miller won in 2006 and 2004, while retired racer Daron Rahlves won in 2005 and a race in 2003 that was rescheduled to Beaver Creek from Val d’Isere, France.
Aspen, which has hosted five sets of women’s World Cup races since 2000, last held a women’s downhill in March 1988. Prior to that, Aspen hosted a downhill in March 1981. Vail was the most recent American site to host a women’s World Cup downhill in 1997 during the World Cup Finals in March. Since then, Vail hosted a women’s downhill during the 1999 World Alpine Championships and Salt Lake City hosted a women’s downhill at the 2002 Olympic Games.
In late May at the International Ski Federation (FIS) calendar meetings in Portoroz, Slovenia, the Aspen downhill was put onto the 2007-2008 schedule for Dec. 7. A super-G will run on Dec. 8 and a slalom on Dec. 9.
“We’ve wanted to have a draw (in Aspen) for a long time,” said Tom Kelly, the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Association’s vice president of marketing and communications. “It’s a great showcase for Julia and Lindsey and it brings a little more marquee value to the event.”
Downhill races are known as the premier event in ski racing.
The men’s Birds of Prey races at Beaver Creek features four races. Beaver Creek and Aspen are the only two current American stops on the World Cup.
“We want to have three to four events at each site,” Kelly said.
Last season, Aspen hosted a slalom and a giant slalom in late November.
“One of the challenges we do have is calendering with FIS,” Kelly said. “But this event will be in December, which is a really a plus. We’ve got a good opportunity to have good snow conditions.”
The downhill race will likely be held on Ruthie’s Run, Hunt said.
Red, white and gold
While the American women haven’t been too successful in the technical events (slalom and giant slalom) at Aspen in recent years, it may be easier for a breakthrough in the downhill. The last American woman to win a World Cup downhill on home soil was Hillary Lindh, who won in Vail on March 12, 1994.
“Racing in your country is so exhilarating,” said recently-retired U.S. Ski Team member Kristina Koznick. “The thing about technical events is that it’s so tough to be consistent. In speed events, if you’re good, you’re good.
“It should just fuel their fire. Hopefully, it will turn into the same thing as the men at Beaver Creek.”
If Kildow can transfer her North American downhill dominance from Canada to the U.S., Aspen may get to see the American flag fly in December.
In each of the last three seasons, Kildow has won one of the two downhill races held in Lake Louise, Alberta. After the 2004 Lake Louise races, Kildow was second in the next downhill. After the 2005 Lake Louise races, Kildow won the next downhill. And after the 2006 Lake Louise races?
Well, Mancuso won that one. Kildow was third, and won a downhill the following day.
Lake Louise only has one downhill this year, which falls on Dec. 1.
And the next stop?
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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