Georgetown, CO, Nov. 16, 2001--Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT), who won back-to-back slaloms at Loveland Ski Area a year ago, made it three straight SL victories at the area in the inaugural Nature Valley Alpine Cup. Chip Knight's (Stowe, VT) third place finish put two U.S. skiers on the podium in the World Cup-level throng of 132 skiers.
First-run leaders Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) and Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) each ran into problems on the final pitch and couldn't finish the race. Schlopy's victorious time of 1:41.87 was worth $1,500 with Tom Stiansen of Norway second ($1,000) in 1:42.07 and Knight took third (worth $500), another five-hundredths off the pace. Miller, who came out of the No. 51 start spot to lead the first run by more than a half-second, had problems from the top of the final run and eventually went down at just about the same spot where Puckett skied off course.
Schlopy grinned a little and said he was surprised a bit by his success at Loveland, but he's also pleased. He and Knight raved about the course conditions; course crews had injected the course with water Wednesday so it would freeze and present solid conditions for the racers.
"Last year, it was a great start. It was a big surprise," Schlopy said. "I hadn't really skied hot slalom in a long time. The rest of the year, the World Cup didn't go exactly as I wanted in slalom, but it was really good in GS.
"This year, the hill was prepared perfectly, almost identically to what a World Cup would be, and it makes me more excited, because it's a better gauge of where I am now with my skiing. To tell you the truth, I have work to do. Today was a mental exercise, more than anything for me, to be able to fight back from making a huge mistake at the top so," he went on, "for me, that was my biggest victory--the one in my brain."
Knight added, "Conditions couldn't have been better. I haven't seen conditions like this even on the World Cup. Normally, on the World Cup they'll break down after 20 or 30 racers, but I think what Bode did showed how terrific conditions were." The fifth and sixth finishers came out of the 60s.
He was understandably pleased with his race, noting, "I'm ecstatic. It's been a long time since I had a good slalom results. It gives me a lot of confidence."
The Nature Valley Alpine Cup, part of the Chevy Truck Super Series, which represents the U.S. portion of the Nor Am Cup races, continues Friday with another men's slalom. The women take over Loveland for the weekend with Saturday's slalom doubling as the U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup; the top-finishing U.S. skiers not only receives $10,000 but earns an automatic berth on the U.S. Olympic Team for February's Winter Games in Utah.
NOR AM CUP MEN'S SLALOM
Loveland Ski Area, CO - Nov. 15
1. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, 1:41.87
2. Tom Stiansen, Norway, 1:42.07
3. Chip Knight, Stowe, VT, 1:42.12
4. Giorgio Rocca, Italy, 1:42.40
5. Bernard Vajdic, Slovenia, 1:42.51
6. Ivicia Kostelic, Croatia, 1:42.59
7. Angelo Weiss, Italy, 1:42.66
8. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, WA, 1:42.75
9. Mario Matt, Austria, 1:43.01
10. Jure Kosir, Slovenia, 1:43.06
11. Sacha Gros, Vail, CO, 1:43.08