Marco Sullivan wins national downhill title
ALYESKA, Alaska – Squaw Valley’s Marco Sullivan and Kaylin Richardson od Edina, Minn., opened the 2009 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships with downhill wins at Alyeska on Saturday.
Richardson, the ’07 downhill and ’06 slalom champion, marked the third title of her career as Sullivan chalked his third U.S. downhill title.
“The people here at Alyeska really deserve the win,” Richardson said. “They have been dished the most unbelievable weather conditions, but they never stopped working to make our race happen today. It’s incredible we were able to race.”
Olympic giant slalom champion Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley, who has been hampered by the flu and arrived early Saturday morning to race, finished second followed by last years champion Stacey Cook of Mammoth. Erik Fisher of Middleton, Idaho, who stunned the World Cup field this season with a seventh in the Val Gardena downhill, was second ahead of Jeremy Transue of Hunter, NY.
The starts of both the men’s and women’s races where lowered because eight inches of new snow on top of the over two feet that fell over the last three days.
“The crew at Alyeska has been busting their butts to make this happen for us,” said Sullivan. “Every time I go up the lift, there’s people with shovels throwing snow off the hill and there’s tons of slippers – they did everything they possibly could yesterday for us to race super-G and it’s pretty impressive that we were able to get the downhill in.”
According to both Richardson and Sullivan, the course was soft due to the amount of snow and therefore, it took a light touch to be able to lay down a fast time.
“A lot of turns were really bumpy and you had to apply a supple touch to your skis to make a clean turn. If you dug in, it was all over,” said Richardson, who also won the ’07 downhill title at Alyeska. “I love this course and it’s great to win again, especially because I was looking for a lot more from my World Cup season. I’ll take the confidence, for sure.”
For Sullivan, who has won at the World Cup level, a win in Alyeska was still a good one as the young guns kept piling up fast times behind him.
“It’s amazing how fast the young guys were going on this hill,” Sullivan said. “I definitely had to put down a solid run to win because everyone was charging it. It’s pretty cool to see so many young guys up there. They were giving it and that’s what U.S. champs is all about – it’s fun to see that.”
Taking top honors in the women’s junior ranks was Alice McKennis of Glenwood Springs, Colo., who won four NorAm speed races in Canada earlier this season, while Jared Goldberg of Salt Lake City, Utah, topped the men’s junior standings.
World Championships giant slalom bronze medalist Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah, who was expected to compete in the downhill, suffered a right knee injury during the training run and will miss the remainder of the U.S Championships. According to U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Medical Director Richard Quincy, Ligety will return to Park City for further evaluation.
The Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships continue Sunday from Alyeska with men’s and women’s slalom.
Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships
At Alyeska, Alaska
Saturday’s downhill results
1. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley 1:08.07
2. Erik Fisher, Middleton, Idaho, 1:08.44
3. Jeremy Transue, Hunter, N.Y., 1:08.51
4. Ace Tarberry, 1:08.99
5. Jared Goldberg, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1:09.07
1. Kaylin Richardson, Edina, Minn., 1:10.18
2. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, 1:10.53
3. Stacey Cook, Mammoth, 1:10.72
4. Keely Kelleher, Big Sky, Mont., 1:10.97
5. Chelsea Marshall, Pittsfield, Vt., 1:11.29
1. Jared Goldberg, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1:09.07
2. Thomas Biesemeyer, Keene, N.Y., 1:09.10
3. Nick Daniels, Tahoe City, 1:09.26
4. Wiley Maple, Aspen, Colo., 1:09.46
5. Michael Ankeny, Deephaven, Minn., 1:09.69
1. Alice McKennis, Glenwood Springs, Colo., 1:11.39
2. Julia Ford, Plymouth, N.H., 1:11.49
3. Rose Caston, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1:12.05
4. Brooke Wales, Sammamish, Wash., 1:12.98
5. Lauren Samuels, Minneapolis, Minn., 1:13.14
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