Kelleher, Ganong top Olympians at U.S. Championships
Aspen, CO Colorado
WILMINGTON, N.Y. – Keely Kelleher and Travis Ganong both topped fields brimming with U.S. Olympians to win super G titles at the U.S. Alpine Championships on Saturday.
Kelleher, of Big Sky, Mont., benefited from starting first in a field that included seven Vancouver Olympians, finishing in 1 minute, 6.31 seconds on Draper’s Drop at Whiteface Mountain near Lake Placid.
With temperatures nearing 50 degrees, later skiers had to deal with soft snow and a track that rutted quickly.
“I carried my speed, but it didn’t feel that good because of the conditions,” Kelleher said. “It was softer in some spots, harder in others.”
Chelsea Marshall of Pittsfield, Vt., a 2010 Olympian, started second and finished there in 1:06.67.
North American series downhill, super G and overall champion Laurenne Ross of Klamath Falls, Ore., finished third, 0.03 behind Marshall.
Ganong, of Olympic Valley, Calif., also used bib No. 1, winning the men’s super G in 1:05.43 against a field of 65 skiers that had five 2010 U.S. Olympians, including 2006 gold medalist Ted Ligety.
“With the warm weather, it was definitely better to start early,” said Ganong, who also captured the U.S. downhill title in Aspen last month. “The course is smoother, you can go where you want to go and trust your line.”
The field of 50 women excluded Julia Mancuso, a double Olympic silver medalist last month. Mancuso, also from Olympic Valley, Calif., will compete in Tuesday’s giant slalom.
Lindsey Vonn, of Vail, Colo., a winner of gold and bronze medals, has concluded her year to heal a variety of nagging injuries, including hand and shin problems.
Will Brandenburg of Spokane, Wash., was men’s runner-up in 1:06.20, followed by Warner Nickerson of Gilford, N.H., in third place with a time of 1:06.42.
Ligety, of Park City, Utah, had survival on his mind.
“I was just trying to make it down the course fast,” said the slalom and giant slalom specialist. “The snow conditions were tough because it’s so warm and soft. If you push it too hard, it could be dangerous.”
Vancouver medal winners Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht didn’t compete at the championships, which continue Sunday. Miller, of Franconia, N.H., shut down his season to heal an ankle injury after capturing three Olympic medals in February.
Weibrecht, the homegrown product from Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain, separated his shoulder in Lillehammer, Norway, one week after the games and had surgery one week ago.
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American giant slalom stud Ted Ligety won six times at Birds of Prey, be it five World Cups and/or gold in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, but we have to remember what a struggle it was for him to get there.