Maier, Kostelic are World Cup champions
Schlopy third in giant slalom ranks
It was an eventful week of racing during the Chevy Truck
U.S. Alpine National Championships at Big Mountain, Mt.—but the jury is
still out on Bill Johnson.
Johnson, 1984 Olympic downhill gold medalist, remained in
stable condition but in a coma Monday following brain surgery at Kalispell
Regional Medical Center 20 miles from the race site.
Doctors were credited with saving Johnson’s life after
he was injured in a horrific face-forward crash during Thursday’s FIS-level
He was navigating a right turn through a section of the
course known as the Corkscrew, when he lost control and pitched forward on
his face before sliding through two rows of protective fencing.
Unconscious when help arrived, Johnson was treated at the
scene for head trauma and transported by Alert medical helicopter to
Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
According to Dr. Keith Lara, director of emergency medical
services at the hospital, Johnson suffered a subdural hematoma and
diffused swelling of the brain.
The doctor said, "The fortunate thing is Dr. Rob
Hollis was able to perform the neurological surgery quickly. Now it’s
just a matter of God and time. He’s critical, but neurologically
Johnson’s accident happened shortly before 10 a.m. MST
Thursday. When he arrived at the hospital, doctors worked to stabilize his
airway and performed a CT scan.
He went into surgery shortly after noon.
The four-hour neurological surgery involved draining blood
from his head and left lung. Additional surgery continued for lacerations
on his tongue. He also suffered lacerations to his arms and legs.
On Monday, four days after Johnson’s crash, hospital
spokesman Jim Oliverson said the doctors continued to see improvement in
"Bill continues to improve and we’re all cautiously
optimistic," said Oliverson. "His athletic background gave him
an incredible edge in his recovery. The progress he’s made has been
amazing, and we’re optimistic.
"But there’s also a need to find the balance
between optimism and reality—what could be down the road, just around
the corner. With any patient there are post-surgery complications, and
that’s a natural part of the recovery."
The Southern California native, who turns 41 Friday, was
making a season-long comeback bid with an eye on making the 2002 U.S.
Olympic ski team.
He had skied the Big Mountain course the previous two days
in official training. The accident came in a non-championship event during
the U.S. Nationals.
Street wins Thursday DH
Although Johnson’s accident dominated Thursday’s news,
the winners of the FIS downhill were world super giant slalom champion
Daron Rahlves and Sun Valley’s Picabo Street, who recently won the
Nor-Am downhill title.
Street, who turns 30 next Tuesday, took the FIS race by
.36 seconds over Lindsey Kildow of Vail, with Kirsten Clark of Maine
third. Rahlves was a .43-second winner over Casey Puckett. Sun Valley’s
Carl Rixon Jr. placed 37th.
On Friday, the national championships officially started
and Kirsten Clark, 23, made some history and collected a $3,000
Clark became the first skier to win four consecutive U.S.
downhill championships when she nipped Street by .33 seconds. It was the
sixth national title overall for the Carrabassett Valley Academy graduate.
Silver medalist Street was disappointed about not winning,
but also philosophical about coming back from two years on the sidelines.
"I didn’t have the run I wanted," she said.
"And it’s hard to have it happen at nationals with everybody
"I’m just getting hungry and starting to get moody
again, and all I want to do is break something right now because I’m not
happy with what I did.
"But at the same time, I can look at the big picture
and say I’ve made a lot of progress and the fact I’m even out here and
still doing it and not afraid is huge. I’m ahead of where I thought I
was gonna be—but I’m not a patient person."
Street won national DH titles in 1996 at Sugarloaf, Me.
and in 1994 at Winter Park, Co. In addition, she has won two national SG
Rahlves stayed hot by winning Friday’s men’s downhill.
Rixon was 31st of 55 racers.
Super giant slalom winners were Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden
and, in a tie, Casey Puckett and Erik Schlopy. Sun Valley’s Rixon had
his best result with a 17th place in Saturday’s SG. He was 52nd in the
same event last year.
The X-Nix U.S. Snowboard Championships wrapped up last
weekend at Sunday River in Newry, Maine.
Mount Snow racer Kelly Clark, 17, and Canadian Jasey Jay
Anderson captured the overall Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix titles
and with it, new Chevy S-10 pick-up trucks.
First-year national team rider Clark, victorious Saturday
night in the superpipe contest, also won Sunday’s snowboardcross, good
for $1,700 first-place prizes.
Sun Valley’s Graham Watanabe was seventh in Sunday’s
Watanabe’s other results were 13th in parallel giant
slalom, 10th in Thursday’s slalom and 22nd in last Wednesday’s ISF
Other top results for Sun Valley riders were:
Sondra Van Ert fourth in slalom and sixth in parallel
giant slalom; Claire Cetera fourth in parallel giant slalom; Aprilia
Hagglof 16th in slalom; and Quinn Orb 21st slalom.
ESPN will air coverage of the championships Thursday,
April 12 at noon MDT.