GIRDWOOD, Alaska March 19, 2004 (USST) - World Cup rookie Bryon Friedman (Park City, UT), prepping for his final round of classes at Dartmouth College, took the rest of the field "to school" Friday as he won his first national title, finishing nearly two seconds ahead in capturing the men's downhill on Day One of the Chevrolet U.S. Alpine Championships.
Friedman, third Thursday in a pre-championships FIS downhill won by Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), covered the 2.7K Bowl/Gelende racing trail at Alyeska Resort in 1:38.96. The silver medalist was Jeremy Transue (Hunter, NY), whose time was 1:40.85, with Rahlves claiming the bronze medal in 1:40.94. Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), who just arrived from Europe, fore-ran the women's downhill so he would be eligible to race in the DH and finished 10th.
On a sun-bathed day with temperatures in the mid-20s, Friedman capped the best season of his career. He had said the night before the race he was relaxed and looking to get his first U.S. championships - "or two!" - before heading back for his final term; classes begin March 29 at Dartmouth.
"This was my goal all week - to save it for Race Day. I brought everything I had," Friedman said. "I probably skied the most aggressively of my whole season. I wanted the national title.
"I was third Thursday but I didn't give it 100 percent. That was a FIS race and I wanted to save it all for today, which is what I did."
The race hill has two jumps, Silvertip in mid-course and Waterfall, which leads to a traverse into the final section. "I absolutely flew off Silvertip jump and Waterfall as well," the winner said. "I knew I was hauling ass; I could feel it. It's a great course, a lot of air, a lot of fun."
Miller, who stayed in Sestriere, Italy, after World Cup Finals ended Sunday so he could test equipment, arrived late Thursday night and said it was harder having only one run on a new hill where he'd never raced. But, he added, "We've been doing it quite a bit this year on the World Cup. We had a bunch of times where we had only one training run and then we had to go."
The obvious disadvantage, Miller said, is the basic lack of familiarity with a course. "It's tough to know where to find speed, to know what to do, and you don't get any information on skis, either. ...You make one little mistake and there are not a lot of places where you can make up that much time. I'm surprised I wasn't a little faster, but..."
The men's schedule continues Saturday with super G before turning to tech events with slalom Sunday and giant slalom Monday. In addition, the Chevrolet Return of the Champions, bringing together Olympic and World Championships medalists with today's racers, will be highlighted Saturday afternoon with a relaxed GS.