Sullivan fourth, Betschart eighth in super-G
BIG MOUNTAIN, Mont. – There were as many turns in the men’s results as on the course, during Saturday’s super-G national championship race. In a fluke series of events, Erik Schlopy, of Park City, Utah, in his first super G race in more than a year, tied for first with Paul Casey Puckett, of Aspen, Colo.
Their shared time was 1:43.00, which World super-G champion, Daron Rahlves, of Sugar Bowl, couldn’t quite bust. He trailed by a mere 1/100th of a second, with 1:43.01.
Solid results were posted by the remaining Tahoe squad; Marco Sullivan, of Tahoe City, held the podium hot seat for a bit, but ended up fourth with a time of 1:44.05. Wisi Betschart, of Heavenly, placed sixth in a field of 68, with his score of 1:45.06.
Recent World Cup recruit, Jake Fiala, of Breckenridge, Colo., almost had the win; he held the provisional lead until it was determined he’d indeed missed a gate on the lower course. With Rahlves racing sixth, Puckett seventh and Fiala eighth, spectators saw a quickly changing scoreboard. When it seemed like there could be no more surprises, Schlopy charged out of 31st spot to tie for the win. It was the first time in U.S. Ski Team history that the men’s downhill title resulted in a draw.
For top-ranked Schlopy, the entire day was remarkable. He’d traveled to Montana with no speed skis, and hadn’t even decided to race the super-G until awakening to Saturday morning sunshine.
“It’s the first super G I’ve done since last year’s championships. And yeah, these are Casey Puckett’s skis … team work, right?” he said.
Known more for his technical abilities than for his need for speed, Schlopy joked about the course.
“Yesterday I was riding the chair and I saw Chris Brigham setting the course. I started taunting him, yelling ‘turn, baby, turn! Make it turny!'”
Currently, the 28-year-old is ranked third internationally in giant slalom.
Schlopy explained his new game plan to lead him to the 2002 Olympics.
He said, “Super G really helps giant slalom for me. I think that if I start skiing super G on a semi-regular basis, I’ll be able to race in World Cups. More importantly, it’ll help me be more aggressive in GS.
“And that’s the next step for me, because right now in GS, I can ski as well as anybody. It’s a matter of line and skiing aggressively that’s going to help me beat Hermann [Maier] and [Michael] von Gruenigen and the rest of those guys. Also, if I want to win an overall title someday, I’m going to have to ski at least three events. Today was good practice.”
For Daron Rahlves, his narrow finish to bronze held little joy.
He said, “That (.01) doesn’t hurt as much as the way I skied it. I deserved to get beat on that run – I was all over the place.”
The new World Champion can take some consolation in his new national downhill title. On Friday, in unusually clear conditions, Rahlves bested the field for his first title in that event. He took the icy course in 1 minute, 24.78 seconds.
Silver went to Puckett with a time of 1:24.99, while Vail, Colo.’s Chad Fleischer claimed bronze with 1:25.43. Marco Sullivan posted sixth with 1:25.71, and Betschart placed 11th when he scored 1:26.54.
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