Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New winners crowned at Sugarloaf’s U.S. finals

Young alpine skiers make a name

Kevin Francis charges to the super G U.S. title.

A successful week of racing that started off with a wicked snowstorm came to an end last Wednesday in New England.

The Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships ended with the women's giant slalom at Maine's Sugarloaf/USA ski and snowboard resort.

It's been a great snow year for New England and the 2008 U.S. Nationals put the weather on center stage. Last week's storm forced event organizers to cancel downhill training runs and the FIS downhill. And Wednesday's women's GS was run in freshly falling snow.

Sugarloaf Competition Director James McCormack said, "It was definitely a challenge but we had a good group of people making decisions and it all worked. It was absolutely huge what the volunteers have done, too."

Mike Henderson, Senior Events Manager said, "If you had told me last weekend that we would be here on a Wednesday afternoon having pulled off all the disciplines to be able to crown national champions, I'd have thought you were a bit mad."

Those national champions included brand-new names, in fact, four of the 10 national titles went to first-time winners—three from the Western Region and one from the East.

Giant slalom champions were both first-time winners, the U.S. Ski Team's Tim Jitloff of Reno, Nev. in Tuesday's men's giant slalom and Dartmouth College racer Lauren Ross of Stowe, Vt. in Wednesday's women's giant slalom wrap-up.

Racers from Bend, Ore. figured prominently on the GS podiums as the USSA's Western Region (3,012 points) won the Tom Garner Regions Cup over the East (2,623).

Placing second in the women's GS was U.S. Development Team racer Laurenne Ross of Klamath Falls, Ore. and the Mount Bachelor Ski Foundation. The men's GS runner-up was junior division men's champion Tommy Ford of Bend, who was named Ski Racing's Junior of the Year during the annual athlete banquet held Sunday night.

Sun Valley native Hailey Duke, second to World Cup overall queen Lindsey Vonn in the women's slalom March 22, was 12th in Wednesday's GS. Miles Fink-Debray of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation was 25th in the men's GS. Sean Higgins and Zac Brown of Ketchum DNFd.

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