Kristina Koznick's season of independence was also a season of trial. She left the U.S. Ski Team last summer after falling in love with a coach, then spent $125,000 from savings and personal fund-raising to race independently on the World Cup circuit.
Erik Schlopy was the first skier on a snowy slalom course. That meant everybody else was racing for second place. Schlopy won the men's slalom Wednesday at U.S. Alpine nationals, beating runner-up Casey Puckett by more than one second.