O’Brien wins super-G, Ross says goodbye as racing resumes at nationals in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

O’Brien wins super-G, Ross says goodbye as racing resumes at nationals in Aspen

Sarah Schleper, left, Resi Stiegler, Laurenne Ross and Alice McKennis Duran drink champagne at the base of Aspen Highlands after the women’s super-G races on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Nina O’Brien added to her career nationals haul and Laurenne Ross again said goodbye as the U.S. Alpine Championships got back to racing with the women’s super-G on Tuesday at Aspen Highlands.

O’Brien, a native Californian, took the super-G national championship with a time of 1 minute, 15.78 seconds, nearly a full second ahead of runner-up Hannah Saethereng of Norway. Former University of Denver ski racer Storm Klomhaus was third, a full 1.13 back of O’Brien.

More of a technical specialist, the 23-year-old O’Brien was competing in her first super-G since the 2019 nationals. She avoided any rust to win her eighth career national championship.

“I really haven’t trained much, so I didn’t have many expectations going into today other than I wanted to remind myself that I want to go fast in speed and not be afraid of the speed,” O’Brien said. “So I was pretty happy to do that on my run. It was a little bit soft and sugary, but I felt super comfortable on the course and I could go for it and attack it … and it was pretty fun. It was nice to ski super-G again.”

O’Brien is coming off a career-best season, which included her best individual World Cup result to date, when she finished ninth in a Dec. 29 slalom in Semmering, Austria. She also finished 10th in giant slalom at this year’s world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

During the races, Oregon’s Ross took her career’s victory lap. She announced recently she would retire after this week’s U.S. nationals and officially competed for the final time in Saturday’s downhill, which she won.

Tuesday’s plan had originally been to hold a combined, with a super-G and a slalom, but warm weather Tuesday led organizers to split that event into two days. There will now be a slalom on Wednesday, which will be added to Tuesday’s super-G results to determine the combined national champion.

There was a second super-G on Tuesday, this a standard FIS race won by California’s AJ Hurt. Canada’s Britt Richardson was second and Saethering was third, with Klomhaus finishing just off the podium in fourth. O’Brien did not finish her run in the FIS race.

“It’s really nice to be able to pull off the event … I feel like all season everything was uncertain,” O’Brien said. “I was so glad we got that done, but to come home and race with everyone in the U.S. is also really special. So, thanks to Aspen for hosting us.”

The U.S. Alpine Championships remain scheduled to conclude this week with the women’s giant slalom on Thursday and the women’s slalom on Friday.


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