LAKE LOUISE, AB - Veteran U.S. Ski Team downhiller Marco Sullivan of Truckee parlayed a strong training run Thursday into a third-place downhill finish Saturday in the opening Audi FIS Alpine World Cup speed event of the season in Lake Louise.
Starting 42nd, the former Squaw Valley Ski Team standout hit a perfect line to tie with Austrian Klaus Kroell, .64 seconds behind winner Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.
It was his first World Cup podium since 2009, and the fourth podium of his 13-year career with the U.S. Ski Team. He won the downhill at Chamonix, France, in 2008, but is coming off a couple of down seasons.
"It was a little bit emotional at the finish," Sullivan said. "Just to have that happen after a few down years and to start out the year like this, is beyond my expectations.
"I wouldn't still be racing if I didn't think I could still compete," he added. "This year, my place on the team was a little bit in jeopardy. I lost a lot of sponsors. I worked really hard this summer, and for it to show on the first race of the year was special."
After recovering from a back injury this past spring, Sullivan switched to Atomic skis and boots and spent more than a month in Chile dialing in his new equipment.
"I had a couple of herniated discs in my back this spring and didn't do a whole lot for three months, except for therapy for that," he said. "Once I was finally feeling good, I spent a six-week block in Chile and really got comfortable on the new equipment."
Sullivan also credited two weeks of training recently with his U.S. team.
"We showed up at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper and it was in great shape. The training was fantastic and that really gave me some confidence. I came up to Lake Louise knowing I could do something good. My goal was top 10 and to exceed that was awesome," he said.
American Ryan Cochran-Siegle was 25th for the best downhill result of his career. Travis Ganong of Squaw Valley was 39th and Steven Nyman was 40th.