March 27, 2006
SUGARLOAF, Maine (USST Press Release)—Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN), still glowing from skiing at her first Olympics, caught a break Monday when Olympic teammate Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) survived a near spill but lost major time on her final run, making Richardson the 2006 U.S. slalom champion while Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) won her third consecutive U.S. combined title.
"It's been an amazing year - so many dreams have come true, Richardson said after earning her first U.S. gold medal with a two-run time of 1:41.26.
Caitlin Ciccone (Bethlehem, NH), a U.S. C Team racer, picked up her first U.S. championships medal with a time of 1:41.85. Mancuso, looking to start a new streak after her string of 12 straight championships races with a top-3 finish - and racing in a whimsical, piled-high Conehead style of hair-do, took bronze in 1:42.74.
Mancuso, the Olympic giant slalom champion and in her sixth year on the U.S. Ski Team at the age of 22 (as of March 9), has seven national titles - three combined, two in GS, one each in downhill and super G. The combined silver medalist was Ciccone with Stiegler, who skidded to sixth in the slalom when she dropped onto her left hip - but saved the run - about a dozen gates from the finish, bronze medalist.
Richardson: Gold is "exciting...satisfying...gratifying...
"I'm totally thrilled. It's really exciting, Richardson said. "It's very, very cool. Everyone wants to have that title and now that I have it, it's very satisfying.
"It's something that's really fun to say and I'm kinda, like, part of the club. 'You're a national champion.' 'No, you're a national champion.' To be among that great group of athletes is very gratifying, Richardson said.
With sunny temperatures nearing 30 but a consistent uphill wind, the Narrow Gauge-into-Cribworks racing trail stayed pretty solid as the schedule shifted from speed to technical racing after five days of downhill and super G.
"It's a pretty technical hill, so both courses were tough, Richardson said. "They were pretty turny and you couldn't let it go. You have to keep your balance. My first run, I thought I was sluggish. Probably after going so many speed events, I had to get my timing back a little bit in the morning, and Resi had an amazing first run.[pagebreak]"So, second run I knew I had to lay it on the line because the girls behind me were within hundredths. The second run was a little ragged at the top, so I knew I had to go, go, go at the bottom, and that's what I did.
Achieving her first national title, she said, was just about a bonus after making the Olympic Team. The three-time NorAm slalom champ who couldn't defend her back-to-back-to-back title this winter because she was racing on the World Cup tour, said her Olympic selection was a surprise.
Champ was surprised by Olympic spot
"I wasn't expecting to go. I was in no way a shoo-in, but then when I got named to the team I couldn't have been more excited. And now, being national slalom champion...it's been a sweet year and a sweet, sweet time in my life. Richardson laughed as she reflected on the three NorAm titles, saying she was passing the torch for NorAm supremacy to Sterling Grant (Amery, WI), an up-and-coming junior racer "and another Midwestern skier...and I hope to keep moving up on the World Cup.
Mancuso said her striking 'do - an obvious target for photographers on-course and in the finish - was designed to be a tension-reliever.
She consoled Stiegler in the finish after the first-run leader rescued what seemed to be a certain DNF-2 (did not finish, 2nd run) as she had a ski go out from under her and she hastily pulled the ski back, regained her balance and kept her focus to finish. She lost any chance for a slalom medal but her quick-thinking salvaged the bronze in combined; first place is worth $3,000 with second worth $1,500 and $750 for a bronze medal at the Banknorth championships.
>The races continue Tuesday with men's GS and conclude Wednesday at Sugarloaf USA with women's giant slalom.
2006 TD BANKNORTH U.S. ALPINE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sugarloaf, ME - March 27, 2006
1. Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah, 1:33.26
2. Jimmy Cochran, Keene, N.H., 1:33.35
3. (tie) Chip Knight, Stowe, Vt., and Cody Marshall, Pittsfield, Vt., 1:34.58 each
5. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, Wash., 1:34.75
6. Drew Roberts, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:35.11
7. David Chodounsky, Crested Butte, Colo., 1:35.65
8. Stefan Hughes, Killington, Vt., 1:36.57
9. Steve Nyman, Orem, Utah, 1:36.63
10. Zach Brown, Sun Valley, Idaho, 1:36.69
1. Kaylin Richardson, Edina, Minn., 1:41.26
2. Caitlin Ciccone, Bethlehem, N.H., 1:4.85
3. Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 1:42.74
4. Lucia Zikova, Czech Republic, 1:43.74
5. Jilyne McDonald, Bellevue, Wash., 1:43.62
6. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, Wyo., 1:43.99
7. Laurel Carter, Norwich, Vt., 1:44.24
8. Megan Hughes, Killington, Vt., 1:44.31
9. Jamie Kingsbury, Fayston, Vt., 1:44.63
10. Abbi Lathrop, North Conway, N.H., 1:45.36