Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Squaw Valley a sunny showcase for U.S. Nationals

2013 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin (right) signs autographs during the sun-splashed 2013 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley, Ca. Sunday. U.S. Ski Team photo by Mark Epstein

No, Vail teenager and World Cup “Rising Star” Mikaela Shiffrin didn’t win the U.S. Nationals women’s slalom race Sunday at Squaw Valley, Ca. She straddled a gate on the second run after taking a big lead on the first of two heats.

But the 18-year-old newly-crowned World Cup slalom queen thoroughly enjoyed herself and waded into the crowd of adoring ski racing enthusiasts to sign autographs.

Shiffrin said, “I think it’s most important that I try to connect with younger kids here. Most of them say they watch World Cup races so I think they’ve seen the skiing and it’s probably cool to see it live.

“The most important thing is I get to have some time face-to-face with them and show them I’m not actually that different and that I’m a goofball. We can have conversations and they can get to this point.”

And the point of the 2013 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships Thursday through Sunday was to celebrate an outstanding U.S. Ski Team international racing season—and enjoy four days of perfect California sun and warm spring temperatures.

The event capped an extremely successful U.S. National Championships that drew record numbers of fans to Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

Shiffrin and World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety were the biggest stars. Shiffrin won the World Cup slalom globe with a spectacular final run at Lenzerheide, Switz. to beat the best female skier in the world, this year’s overall queen Tina Maze of Slovenia.

Winner of four World Cup slaloms this winter, Shiffrin was named the Cup’s “Rising Star” for the 2012-13 campaign. She was the first U.S. World Cup slalom champ since Tamara McKinney in 1983-84. And she also became the first non-European to win four World Cup slaloms in a season.

Sunday, world slalom champion Shiffrin led by 1.22 seconds after the first run and primed to lock a third straight Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championship slalom title when she straddled a gate on the tight middle section of the Squaw Valley Olympic slope.

It handed the gold medal to Canadian and Westminster College (Utah) student Anna Goodman, who recently won the Nor-Am slalom title. Resi Stiegler of Jackson Hole, Wyo. captured silver with Norwegian Tonje Sekse, also a Westminster athlete, in bronze.

In the U.S. nationals combined race (fastest super G plus slalom), top honors went to Katie Hartman (Breckenridge, CO) followed by Lila Lapanja (Incline Village, NV) and Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN).

The final race also awarded the Tom Garner Memorial Trophy to the defending champion Western Region, which piled on 2,964 points to top the second place Eastern Region (1,506) and third place Rocky/Central (1,403).

Bill Marolt, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, said, “The U.S. Championships are an opportunity to bring together the best athletes from our USSA clubs across the country.

“Squaw Valley provided an amazing experience for our athletes with well prepared courses, huge crowds and the enthusiasm of hundreds of young ski racers who turned out to see their heroes. It’s encouraging to see how important ski racing is to the fabric of the Squaw Valley community.”


Other national results

Triple world champion Ligety, 28, of Park City capped a career-best season with a massive 1.48-second slalom victory to close out men’s competition at Squaw Valley on Saturday.

A week after winning his fourth World Cup giant slalom title, Ligety grabbed his seventh U.S. Championship gold and first since 2007—a season in which he won both the GS and combined titles.

Earlier this winter Ligety won three gold medals at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships to become the first man since France’s Jean Claude Killy in 1968 to win three or more golds in one World Championships.

Finishing second behind Ligety in the Squaw Valley slalom and earning the 2013 national combined title was Will Brandenburg of Spokane, Wash. Here are other top three results from nationals, along with a podium summary from the U.S. national downhill held Dec. 7 at Copper Mountain, Co.:

- Men’s slalom: 1—Ted Ligety (Park City), seventh national title. 2—Will Brandenburg (Spokane). 3—Colby Granstrom (Lake Stevens, Wa.). DNF—Kipling Weisel.

- Men’s combined: 1—Will Brandenburg. 2—Mark Engel (Truckee, Ca.). 3—Robert Cone (Killington, Vt.).

- Men’s giant slalom: 1—Tim Jitloff (Reno, Nev.), fourth national title. 2—Robby Kelley (Vt.). 3—Seppi Stiegler (Jackson Hole). 43—Kipling Weisel (SV) 8th U-18.

- Men’s super giant slalom: 1—Travis Ganong (Squaw 

Valley, Ca.), third national title, 2—Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah). 3—Mark Engel (Truckee, Ca.). 29—Kipling Weisel (SV) 8th U-18.

- Men’s downhill: 1—Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah. 2—Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, C a.). 3—Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, N.Y.). 36—KJ Savaria (SV). 56—Kipling Weisel (SV). 83—William Harder (SV). 92—Ben Kanellitsas (SV). 100—Tanner Josey (SV).

- Women’s slalom: 1—Anna Goodman (Canada). 2—Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole). 3—Tonje Sekse (Norway). 25—Kyla Miller (SV) 5th U-18. 29—Linnea Baysinger (SV) 7th U-18.

- Women’s combined: 1—Katie Hartman (Breckenridge, Co.). 2—Lila Lapanja (Incline Village, Nev.). 3—Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, Minn).

- Women’s giant slalom: 1—Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, Ca.) record 16th national title. 2—Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle/Vail, Co.). 3—Megan McJames (Park City). 38—Linnea Baysinger (SV) 12th U-18. 43—Kyla Miller (SV) 14th U-18.

- Women’s super giant slalom: 1—Laurenne Ross (Bend, Ore.), first national title. 2—Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mt.,  Ca.). 3—Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, Ca.). 23—Kyla Miller (SV) 5th U-18. 25—Linnea Baysinger (SV) 7th U-18.

- Women’s downhill: 1—Jacqueline Wiles (Aurora, Ore.). 2—Katie Ryan (Aspen, Co.). 3—Anna Marno (Steamboat Springs, Co.). 33—Jordan Fitzgerald (SV).

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