Mendes breaks foot on final day of nationals
Three gates from the slalom finish Jonna Mendes’ nationals championships turned from exhilarating to depressing.
Mendes fell near the end of her second run and broke her right foot at the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships on Wednesday in Big Mountain, Mont.
Mendes, underwent surgery at Valley North Hospital in Whitefish with Dr. Mike Soba, a U.S. Ski Team surgeon and chief of surgery at the hospital, performing the operation.
She is expected to return home to South Lake Tahoe today.
Mendes was in the running for the combined title and was riding high after landing on the podium in GS, downhill and super-G. Her giant slalom victory on Tuesday was her first national title.
Sarah Schleper of Vail, Colo., wasted no time crying over a lost ski, shedding the frustration of giant slalom a day earlier to lead both runs to collect the slalom gold medal on the final day of the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships.
Swedish star Pernilla Wiberg, the super-G winner, also earned the U.S. combined crown.
Schleper, who “threw a shoe” when her right ski came off with about 10 gates left Tuesday in GS, stormed to the first-run lead and tore through the second run as well, winning by more than a second and a half.
“I was hoping I could pull it off. I didn’t think I could have two unlucky days in a row,” Schleper said. “I know I can ski with the best, but I’m still no totally
comfortable. There are still a few little bugs I want to work out.”
It was the second U.S. title for the ’98 giant slalom champion. Her winning time was 1:27.90.
The silver medal went to Tasha Nelson of Mound, Minn., in 1:29.41 with Wiberg, racing her first slalom since injuring a knee at St. Moritz, Switzerland, in December 1999, finished third (1:29.55). Completing the first five were Lindsey C. Kildow of Vail, Colo., in fourth and Kristina Koznick of Burnsville, Minn., fifth. Kildow also clinched the junior combined calculation when Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley did not start her second run.
The new course had strange snow conditions, Schleper said. The 30-degree weather and mix of light rain and snow overnight created soft conditions “and it was kind of slick and peely,” she explained.
Although fog rolled in and out during the second run, hitting the middle of the course, Schleper said she had no problem with visibility.
Nelson, a 1998 Olympian and two-time World Championships skier who was not named to the U.S. team this season, conceded she has struggled over the past two winters and her slalom result probably won’t earn her a spot on the 2002 U.S. squad. However, she said, she is more determined than ever to regain her World Cup start spot and hopefully, a place in the 2002 Olympics.
CHEVY TRUCK U.S. ALPINE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Big Mountain, MT – March 28
1. Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 1:27.90
2. Tasha Nelson, Mound, Minn., 1:29.41
3. Pernilla Wiberg, Sweden, 1:29.55
4. Lindsey C. Kildow, Vail, Colo., 1:30.05
5. Kristina Koznick, Burnsville, Minn., 1:30.07
6. Katerina Tichy, Canada, 1:30.56
7. Courtney Calise, Littleton, N.H., 1:30.70
8. Mia Cullman, Vail, Colo., 1:31.06
9. Lauren Ross, Stowe, Vt., 1:31.48
10. Jessica Kelley, Starksboro, Vt., 1:32.23
11. Megan Hughes, Killington, Vt., 1:32.99
12. Hilary McCloy, Waitsfield, Vt., 1:33.22
13. Kaylin Richardson, Minneapolis, 1:33.68
14. Jamie Kingsbury, Waitsfield, Vt., 1:33.73
15. Erica MacConnell, Amherst, Mass., 1:33.94
1. Wiberg, 91.03 points
2. Schleper, 92.17
3. Kildow. 92.86
4. McCloy. 100.25
5. Bryna McCarty, Concord, Vt., 106.82
— Best in the World! —
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Athletes from across the globe will make their way into the National Stadium in Beijing, China, next month for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.