Lake Placid, N.Y. (March 20, 2003) AP -- Nyman shocked the men's field Wednesday in the U.S. Alpine Championships, winning the downhill at Whiteface Mountain just ahead of two more surprises --Kevin Francis and Scott McCartney.
Nyman's triumph was surprising because his only podium this year came in the fifth super G race of the year, and he had developed an uncanny knack of not finishing races.
"It's pretty cool. I didn't expect it," said Nyman, 21, of Sundance, Utah, who skied the course in 1 minute, 34.81 seconds. "I haven't skied that well in downhill this year. I just want to focus on finishing. I came into the day 0-for-6 (in slaloms)."
Francis, of Bend, Ore., was simply thrilled to race against the top U.S. men. Winning silver hadn't really set in as he stood on the podium afterward.
"To bring it here is just incredible. Some of these guys are the best in the world," said Francis, who was on the development team last year. "I never really expected this, but this is the place to do it."
McCartney, who won the Nor-Am super G title to earn a spot on the World Cup tour next season, won bronze despite wearing a cast protecting a torn ligament in his left thumb.
"Not to nitpick, but it throws my balance off a little bit," said McCartney, 25, of Redmond, Wash. "It's not that bad, but it's an awkward hold to the pole. I can't really grip it or maneuver it. My training day I put my thumb down and I tore off my pole. I had to stop and put it back in with my other hand and then get going again."
McCartney's gutsy performance kept Bode Miller off the podium. Miller finished fourth, but really, he was fortunate just to be able to compete.
Miller had remained in Europe an extra day to test after Sunday's World Cup finale in Norway, and his bag wasn't on the plane when he landed at Burlington International Airport on Tuesday. He had to get up at 3 a.m. Wednesday, drive to the airport to retrieve his bag and arrived at the venue just in time for inspection.
Without the obligatory training run, he was allowed to ski the course less than 10 minutes before the race.
"It's nice, but not that nice considering the schedule I'm on, coming off the plane like that and getting up at 3 and driving over and racing right away into six days straight," Miller said. "But the big races are over, so I can take these, mellow and have some fun with it."
Two of the favorites in the race faltered. Jakub Fiala, fastest in training, was seventh, and Marco Sullivan veered off course and failed to finish.
In the women's race, Julia Mancuso ended Kirsten Clark's four-year domination of the downhill, racing to a convincing victory over Lindsey Kildow and Jonna Mendes.
Mancuso, who beat everybody in training on Tuesday by more than 2 seconds, nearly duplicated that feat in the race, finishing in 1:38.07. Kildow trailed her by 0.56 and Mendes was 1.98 seconds back. Fourth-place finisher Rachel Roosevelt was 2.57 seconds off the winning time.
Weary from the grueling World Cup tour, Mancuso was all smiles as she contemplated lying on a beach very soon.
"When the last month comes along, I don't have the whole season in front of me," said Mancuso, 19, of Olympic Valley, Calif. "I know that I can go out and ski as long as I want during the day and I won't have three more months of traveling in Europe to be tired. I realized that it just fills me with more energy because I love to ski."
Clark held the lead briefly and finished sixth.
"I made history," she said. "It's going to be a tough streak for someone to beat. If they do, more power to them."
The downhill, which was moved up a day because of the weather, was run in brilliant sunshine and firm conditions after a cold night. But with the forecast calling for rain, race officials moved the super G up one day to Thursday and pushed the FIS downhill back to Friday.
Alpine National Championships RResults
The Associated Press
1. Steven Nyman, Sundance, Utah, 1 minute, 34.81 seconds
2. Kevin Francis, Bend, Ore., 1:35.23
3. Scott McCartney, Redmond, Wash., 1:35.25
4. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 1:35.66
5. Eric Holmer, Bend, Ore., 136.00
6. Nicholas Baker, Gilford, N.H., 1:36.16
7. Jakub Fiala, Frisco, Colo., 1:36.37
8. Andre Horton, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:36.38
9. Justin Johnson, Park City, Utah, 1:36.73
10. Travis Svensrud, Bozeman, Mont., 1:37.56
10. Jeffrey Harrison, Steilacom, Wash., 1:37.56
10. Brett Fischer, Winter Park, Colo., 1:37.56
1. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 1:38.07
2. Lindsey Kildow, Vail, Colo., 1:38.63
3. Jonna Mendes, Heavenly, Calif., 1:40.05
4. Rachel Roosevelt, Storrs, Conn., 1:40.64
5. Kristen Bybee, Jackson Hole, Wyo., 1:40.95
6. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, Maine, 1:40.98
7. Libby Ludlow, Bellevue, Wash., 1:41.30
8. Bryna McCarty, Concord, Vt., 1:41.38
9. Lauren Van Ness, Colorado Springs, 1:41.43
10. Keely Blair Kelleher, Gallatin Gateway, Mont., 1:42.00
Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press