Finally into the gates

March 28, 2009 

Lindsey Vonn manages to remain upright after catching an edge March 28, 2009, in the women's downhill at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.

AL GRILLO / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

GIRDWOOD -- There's something about Mount Alyeska that agrees with Alpine ski racers Kaylin Richardson and Marco Sullivan.

Both won downhill events at the U.S. Alpine Championships on Saturday, mastering the same mountain where they won titles two years ago.

Richardson finished in 1 minute, 10.18 seconds to edge Julia Mancuso (1:10.53) and Stacey Cook (1:10.72) for her second downhill championship. World Cup downhill champion Lindsey Vonn finished seventh after sliding wide near one of the final gates.

Sullivan finished in 1:08.07, ahead of Erik Fisher (1:08.44) and Jeremy Transue (1:08.51).

"This definitely is a hill that I have confidence in, because I've done well here before," Richardson said.

Most racers were just happy to finally compete.

Heavy snow and high wind forced the cancellation of mandatory practice runs for the men's and women's downhill on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as an International Ski Federation (FIS) downhill race on Thursday. Fog in the middle of the course canceled the super-G on Friday.

Shortly after the men's race Saturday, ski officials were dealing with a new hazard: ash from Mount Redoubt, which erupted several times Saturday.

Ten inches of new snow that started falling Friday night prompted officials to shorten the downhill run considerably. When Richardson won the race in 2007, her run lasted about 38 seconds longer than Saturday's did, a sign that this year's course was significantly shorter than usual because of the challenging conditions.

Richardson said she had no clue what to expect Saturday.

"The one training run I've had on it this week was super slow and I didn't ski that well, so I kind of just went into this run -- and you know, ski racing, there's so many variables out of your control -- just do what you can do," she said. "I just went for it and it worked out for me."

Things didn't work out nearly as well for Vonn, who just wrapped up her second World Cup overall and downhill titles. She slid wide near one of the final gates in soft snow and finished seventh.

Things went much better for Mancuso, who went from surf to snow in the course of one day.

"I just got here," she said, laughing. "I was in Maui and I just flew in. So I got here this morning at 7. I missed all the snow."

U.S. Ski Team member Ted Ligety fell on a practice run and was taken down the mountain in a sled. His condition was not known, but he was announced as a participant for today's slalom.

Sullivan said the men's race was a wild ride with all the new snow, which was filled with ruts after four runs between the men and women.

"The track was really soft," he said. "You just had to hang on."

Like Richardson, he didn't hold back because of the ruts.

"If you hit those holes and you're passive, it's going to throw you more than if you're driving through it," he said. "You have to be really smart tactically to try and give a little bit in some places so you can cut above some of the holes and stuff but still carry a fast line. I think I chose wisely, tactically today."

Sullivan said the men had been passing the time skiing in powder when there was too much snow for racing.

"We had some great skiing, just powder skiing," he said. "Going out with all the boys and just having a great time."

The national championships, after all, are one of the last events of the year and have a certain, laid-back social aspect that many of the riders enjoy.

"This definitely is not my most important race," Sullivan said. "It's basically an end-of-the-year little notch in the belt, national champion, which is awesome to do, but I don't take it with the same seriousness that I would a big World Cup race."

US Alpine Championships

at Alyeska Ski Resort

Saturday's results

Men -- 1) Marco Sullivan 1'08.07; 2) Erik Fisher 1'08.44; 3) Jeremy Transue 1'08.51; 4) Ace Tarberry 1'08.99; 5) Jared Goldberg 1'09.07; 6) Thomas Biesemeyer 1'09.10; 7) Tim Jitloff 1'09.20; 8) Kevin Francis 1'09.20; 9) Nick Daniels 1'09.26; 10) Chris Frank 1'09.44; 11) Wiley Maple 1'09.46; 12) Andrew Weibrecht 1'09.47; 13) Michael Ankeny 1'09.69; 14) Sam Coffey 1'09.78; 15) Joey Swensson 1'09.81; 16) John Love 1'09.95; 17) Greg Bartels 1'09.98; 18) Brennan Rubie 1'10.00; 19) David Owsley 1'10.02; 20) Nolan Kasper 1'10.07; 21) Jeremy Elliot 1'10.07; 22) Travis Ganong 1'10.10; 23) George Rolfs 1'10.12; 24) Bryon Friedman 1'10.14; 25) Will Gregorak 1'10.14; 26) Dan Loman 1'10.16; 27) Colby Granstrom 1'10.16; 28) Danny Moore 1'10.32; 29) Samuel Sweetser 1'10.36; 30) William Randall 1'10.39; 31) Taylor Wunsch 1'10.41; 32) Kieffer Christianson 1'10.52; 33) Trevor Leafe 1'10.58; 34) Tim Kelley 1'10.63; 35) Keith Moffat 1'10.76; 36) Liam Mulhern 1'10.81; 37) Jake Baker 1'10.83; 38) Scott Snow 1'10.84; 39) Taggart Spenst 1'10.86; 40) Jimmy Cochran 1'10.89; 41) Cory Mcconnell 1'10.96; 42) Ben Morse 1'11.04; 43) Derek Strand 1'11.06; 44) Max Lamb 1'11.08; 45) Mark Syrovatka 1'11.20; 46) Ryan Mcconnell 1'11.25; 47) Spencer Nelson 1'11.25; 48) Andrew Wagner 1'11.38; 49) Nathan Asoian 1'11.38; 50) Paul Warner 1'11.52; 51) Travis Kuster 1'11.55; 52) Christopher Acosta 1'11.63; 53) Hunter Black 1'11.72; 54) Sean Higgins 1'11.79; 55) Tommy Ford 1'11.79; 56) Maximilian Hammer 1'11.82; 57) Hig Roberts 1'11.85; 58) Zachery Rickenbach, 1'12.33; 59) Robby Kelley 1'13.70; 60) Clayton Krueger, 1'14.64; 61) Sam Glaisher 1'15.44; 62) Bryce Bennett, 1'24.88.

Women -- 1) Kaylin Richardson 1'10.18; 2) Julia Mancuso 1'10.53; 3) Stacey Cook 1'10.72; 4) Keely Kelleher 1'10.97; 5) Chelsea Marshall 1'11.29; 6) Alice Mckennis 1'11.39; 7) Julia Ford 1'11.49; 8) Lindsey Vonn 1'11.53; 9) Megan Mcjames 1'11.73; 10) Katie Hitchcock 1'11.88; 11) Rose Caston 1'12.05; 12) Laurenne Ross 1'12.43; 13) Julia Littman 1'12.62; 14) Brooke Wales 1'12.98; 15) Lauren Samuels 1'13.14; 16) Anna Marno 1'13.25; 17) Angel Collinson 1'13.36; 18) Katie Hartman 1'13.40; 19) Kirsten Cooper 1'13.70; 20) Vanessa Berther 1'13.79; 21) Geordie Lonza 1'13.92; 22) Kristin Leggett 1'13.95; 23) Jennifer Vanwagner 1'13.97; 24) Erika Ghent 1'14.31; 25) Mary Sackbauer 1'14.34; 26) Devin Delaney 1'14.42; 27) Kara Shaw 1'14.45; 28) Aylin Woodward 1'14.64; 29) Mary Rachel Hostetter 1'14.70; 30) Danielle Govan 1'15.02; 31) Valerie Porges 1'15.51; 32) Emily James 1'15.55; 33) Shane Mclean 1'15.58; 34) Kaylee Ann Cortopassi 1'15.75; 35) Jeanne Barthold 1'15.88; 36) Abby Ghent 1'16.23; 37) Abigail Fucigna 1'16.44; 38) Annie Rendall 1'16.72; 39) Taylor Verdun 1'16.77; 40) Sara Andrews 1'16.92; 41) Christie Patient 1'16.97; 42) Tanya Miller 1'17.21; 43) Sarah Williams 1'18.43; 44) Laura Crews 1'18.67; Joanna Coffey 1'18.67.

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