Colorado duo capture gold
Two young Colorado ski racers – Aspen’s Will McDonald and Vail’sLindsey Kildow – made history Friday, when they became the firstAmericans to win gold medals in the boys and girls slalom racesat the junior world championships.The one-two punch of McDonald and Kildow knocked the wind outof Europe’s top racers, who have long dominated the championships,and set high expectations for the future of American skiing.They join the ranks of some of the best skiers in recent history,such as Picabo Street, Julie Parisien and Ingemar Stenmark, whohave also finished at or near the top at the championships, betterknown as the Trofeo Topolino race.”Anybody who is anyone in skiing for the last 20 years raced atTopolino,” said McDonald’s coach, Hermann Gollner. “All the goldmedalists in the World Cup and Olympics participated in thoseraces.”McDonald’s dominance as a slalom racer was apparent in trainingruns and at the U.S. team time trials before the race, Gollnersaid, but his best came during the race.”His first run was an incredible, flawless run – it was pictureperfect,” Gollner said. McDonald sliced through the course in 42.22 seconds – more thana full second ahead of Austria’s Manuel Pirker, who finished in43.54.With a 1.32 second lead, McDonald was in a strong position totake the gold medal, but he wasn’t a sure bet. Skiers with bigleads often ease up in their second run, Gollner said, but intrying to avoid mistakes, they often ski too slowly and are beatenby more aggressive racers. “The second run was very big pressure,” Gollner said, “becausedefending a lead from the first run is usually very differentthan attacking.”McDonald said he was a little nervous going into the second run,and he had good reason. Pirker burned down through his secondrun in 43.25 seconds and established himself as McDonald’s onlycompetition.The 15-year-old Aspenite attacked the course with his usual gustountil he was thrown off balance by the course about halfway down.His goggles were knocked out of position and McDonald had to skiblind through the next gate. “I had to reach up with both hands to adjust them during the transition[between gates],” McDonald said.Gollner reckons the mistake cost McDonald a few tenths of a second,but not enough to jeopardize his overall lead. McDonald finishedthe second run in 43.66 seconds, for an overall time of 1:25.88.McDonald’s aggressive second run contrasted sharply with the defenseput up by the girls leader. After one run, Slovak Veronika Zuzulovahad a commanding .97 second lead over Vail’s Kildow, only to losewith a tentative second run.Kildow secured America’s second gold of the day with a 41.67 finishin the second run, besting Zuzulova by 1.34 seconds and winningthe race by .37 seconds.McDonald and Kildow are members of a six-person American teamthat competed against the top 13- and 14-year-old racers from38 countries last weekend in Marilleva, Italy. Other Americanmedalists included Julia Mancuso, who took a bronze in the girlsslalom, and Evan Weiss, who captured bronze in the boys giantslalom. The Trofeo Topolino, held every winter in Italy, has been consideredone of the most important junior races for more than two decades,but Americans have competed regularly for only about the lasteight years. The race is sponsored by the Disney Corporation.McDonald’s next race is this weekend’s Junior Olympic competitionin Steamboat Springs.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.