Marco Sullivan blazing trail
Marco Sullivan finally got the post-injury monkey off his back, winning two Nor-Am downhills recently at Lake Louise, Canada. The20-year-old US Ski Team racer from Squaw Valley stomped an international pack that included several established World Cup competitors.
Sullivan won the first speed event with a time of 1:12.73, mastering a field that hosted nearly 100 racers. Next place was nearly a half second out, when Ed Podivinsky of Canada finished in 1:13.17, while third went to his Canadian teammate Kevin Wert with 1:13.44.
Wisi Betschart of South Lake Tahoe took 23rd spot with a clocking of 1:15.47.
Of the second of back-to-back competitions, Sullivan said, “I wasn’t nervous at all about going up and racing the second race in the same day. If anything, I felt more confident because I had already performed well. I mainly thought about repeating my previous performance.”
His win was timed at 1:12.98, while the second and third finishers just exchanged places from the previous day. Wert scored 1:13.29 and Podivinsky finished in 1:13.39.
Betschart moved up one spot to 22nd with his time of 1:15.12.
For Sullivan, it was simply time to get his groove back. Formerly ranked the top junior racer in the nation, he spent the past spring recuperating from knee surgery, followed by summertime outpatient heart surgery. Initially, the game plan was to take things slowly.
Early on, Sullivan’s coach, Bill Egan, said, “He’s a great talent and we don’t want to rush him back. He’ll take it easy through the season, then accelerate. We’re looking for Marco to be full-on by the end of the season.”
“Full-on” came early – quickly showing top form again, Sullivan is expediting his advance. Prior to the holiday break, he raced in three Europa Cup speed events in St. Moritz, Switzerland. In the first downhill, the Squaw Valley alumni placed 24th, before moving up to 10th spot in the following
downhill. He capped his ascent with a seventh in super-G, which was also the top American placing.
With these recent wins, Sullivan’s international race points will be low enough to guarantee earlier start positions when racing resumes on the European circuit. According to USSA rules, if Sullivan can place top three in Europa Cup competition, this all-event racer will be plugged into the World
Teammate and fellow Tahoe resident, Betschart, is experiencing a slower start to his race season. Similarly coming back from injuries, Betschart, 24, spent last winter coping with crash-induced shoulder and back damage.
In December, during Super Series (the US equivalent to Nor-Am) races, Betschart topped Sullivan. Day one of the super-G posted 10th- and 11th-place scores for Betschart and Sullivan, respectively. On the second day, Sullivan held on to 11th, while Betschart dropped to 16th.
Both local athletes will have a chance to continue their comebacks when
racing resumes today with a super-G at Lake Louise. Following that, the tour heads to Altenmarkt, Austria.
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