American Marco Sullivan wins Chamonix downhill
CHAMONIX, FRANCE Two-time Olympian Marco Sullivan, who missed two seasons with knee injuries, used his gliding skills almost flawlessly in a tricky Kandahar downhill Saturday in Chamonix, France, to win the first World Cup race of his career. His time over the 3.4-kilometer La Verte course was 2 minutes, 00.11 seconds for a victory by four-tenths of a second over World Cup downhill leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland. Slovenias Andrej Jerman (2:00.57) rounded out the podium. Bode Miller of Bretton Woods, N.H., was seventh (2:00.91) and American T.J. Lanning (2:01.67), running 55th, finishing 23rd. I knew I could kill em with my gliding if I could carry my speed off the top. It all came together, Sullivan said in a U.S. Ski Team news release. I wasnt sure if my run would be good enough to win. I had a couple of small scrubs [of time] on top, but I knew this was my kind of course, and I knew I had a good run. Sullivan, 27, in his ninth season on the U.S. Ski Team, got his first World Cup podium Nov. 24 when he was second on another gliding course at Lake Louise, Alberta. Saturdays results tightened the overall mens points race. Austrian Benjamin Raich finished outside the top 30 but held onto his lead with 892 points in 25 races. Cuche moved past Miller into second at 874 and Miller is now third (867). Sullivan, who jumped into fourth in the downhill standings, was seven-hundredths behind at the first split but took the lead the rest of the way. I had bib No. 11 and thats my sisters favorite number. I talked to her last night and told her I was gonna lay one down for her, a smiling Sullivan said in the finish after phone calls to two missing teammates. I felt like I was skiing for more people than myself. I talked to [Steven] Nyman and I talked to Mac [Scott Macartney], and theyre both out with injuries. So, in the start, I told myself, This is for everybody. Although there was a bright sun and a cloudless sky, there were shadows which were problematic for some skiers. It was dark in the shadows, but I had this funny confidence I wasnt gonna hit any bumps, Sullivan said. I couldnt see in the flats, but I just kept standing on that Nordica ski and kept rolling. I never slowed down. Securing his first two podiums are a payoff for the hard work Sullivan has put into his training and skiing after suffering torn right knee ligaments in a Dec. 4, 2003 training crash at the Birds of Prey races in Beaver Creek. He reinjured the knee and missed the 2005 season, returning to make the 2006 Olympic Team. Quite a day, quite a fantastic day, U.S. downhill head coach Chris Brigham said simply. The boy was very impressive. Obviously, its been an emotional week for all us, the athletes and the coaches, the team as a group with Mac and Steven being injured and not here. But this caps it off nicely. Unfortunately, Steven and Mac arent here or we could have had one hell of a day. Mens races in Chamonix continue with a super combined Sunday featuring a downhill and one run of slalom.
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