Hair-raiser Mancuso takes gold
SUGARLOAF, Maine – For the second straight year, Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah, captured the slalom and combined gold medals Monday at the TD Banknorth U.S. Alpine Championships.
Ligety skied first and led all the way in the slalom, winning in 1 minute, 33.26 seconds with Olympic teammate Jimmy Cochran of Keene, N.H., the 2004 U.S. slalom champion, laying down the fastest second run to take the silver medal in 1:33.35.
“I’m definitely burned out more at this point of the year,” Ligety said. “It’s definitely nice to end it on a good note, and I hope it goes well (today) in GS.”
Vermonters Chip Knight of Stowe – the 1996 U.S. slalom champion at Sugarloaf USA – and Cody Marshall of Pittsfield tied for the bronze in 1:34.58.
That also gave Ligety the combined gold medal with a downhill/slalom time of 170.05, more than two seconds ahead of Cochran (172.10) with Steve Nyman of Orem, Utah, taking the bronze medal in combined (173.06)
Later, Kaylin Richardson of Edina, Minn., earned her first U.S. title in the women’s slalom while Olympic giant slalom gold medalist Julia Mancuso of Tahoe City won the women’s combined, the third straight year she’s taken that title. Overall, Mancuso has seven championships.
“It’s been an amazing year – so many dreams have come true,” Richardson said after earning her first U.S. gold medal with a two-run time of 1:41.26. “It’s very, very cool. Everyone wants to have that title and now that I have it, it’s very satisfying.
“It’s something that’s really fun to say and I’m kinda, like, part of the club. ‘You’re a national champion.’ ‘No, you’re a national champion.’ To be among that great group of athletes is very gratifying.”
Runner-up Caitlin Ciccone of Bethlehem, N.H., a U.S. C Team racer, picked up her first U.S. championships medal with a time of 1:41.85.
Mancuso, 22, said her striking stand-up ‘do – an obvious target for photographers on-course and in the finish – was designed to be a tension-reliever.
She had her streak of 11 straight national medals snapped on Sunday in the super-G, but started a new one with two medals on Monday. She finished third in the slalom.
Mancuso, a sixth-year member of the U.S. Ski Team, has collected three combined, two GS and downhill and super-G national titles.
Cochran, the son of Olympian Bob Cochran, came up to the U.S. Ski Team with Ligety a couple of years ago and the two are leading the next charge from younger skiers. He was second on the first run behind Ligety and nearly overtook him in the final run.
“I got in a little trouble early and I was able to punch it right back on line,” Cochran explained. That gave him new confidence and energy “and I started to be more aggressive, take more risks.”
With double silver, worth $6,000, Cochran was pleased with his overall performance, especially after struggling for much of the last half of the season.
“In the pre-Olympic period I had a stretch where I was really struggling,” he said.
Marty Harris of South Lake Tahoe and Shane Collins of Kirkwood didn’t finish their first slalom runs. North Shore’s Travis Ganong, who earlier placed 21st in super-G and 25th in downhill, also didn’t complete his first slalom run.
The championships continue today with men’s giant slalom and conclude Wednesday with women’s GS.
2006 TD BANKNORTH U.S. ALPINE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sugarloaf, ME – March 27, 2006
1. Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah, 1:33.26
2. Jimmy Cochran, Keene, N.H., 1:33.35
3. (tie) Chip Knight, Stowe, Vt., and Cody Marshall, Pittsfield, Vt., 1:34.58 each
5. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, Wash., 1:34.75
6. Drew Roberts, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:35.11
7. David Chodounsky, Crested Butte, Colo., 1:35.65
8. Stefan Hughes, Killington, Vt., 1:36.57
9. Steve Nyman, Orem, Utah, 1:36.63
10. Zach Brown, Sun Valley, Idaho, 1:36.69
1. Kaylin Richardson, Edina, Minn., 1:41.26
2. Caitlin Ciccone, Bethlehem, N.H., 1:4.85
3. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 1:42.74
4. Lucia Zikova, Czech Republic, 1:43.74
5. Jilyne McDonald, Bellevue, Wash., 1:43.62
6. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, Wyo., 1:43.99
7. Laurel Carter, Norwich, Vt., 1:44.24
8. Megan Hughes, Killington, Vt., 1:44.31
9. Jamie Kingsbury, Fayston, Vt., 1:44.63
10. Abbi Lathrop, North Conway, N.H., 1:45.36
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