Vonn, Cochran triumph in slalom at U.S. championships
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine ” Lindsey Vonn, the overall women’s World Cup champion, and Jimmy Cochran won slalom titles at the U. S. Alpine Championships on Saturday in a competition delayed because of rain, snow and wind. Vonn led both runs to win the event, which is not her strongest, with a combined time of 1 minute, 26.31 seconds for her first career win at Sugarloaf. Hailey Duke was second in 1: 28.21 and Jenny Lathrop finished third in 1:28.42.
“I’m still skiing well even though I’m completely fried,” Vonn said. “It proves that my hard work in the summer has paid off and there’s still some strength in the old legs.”
Cochran successfully defended his title with a combined time of 1:26.69, with Cody Marshall (1:27.90) second and Tim Jitloff (1:28.16) third.
The only thing that could’ve made the win better would’ve been if Ted Ligety and Bode Miller had been competing, Cochran said. Miller was resting after winning the men’s overall World Cup title, and Ligety, who holds the World Cup giant slalom title, has an injured thumb.
“Every race he’s in he makes it more difficult to win,” Cochran said of Miller, a fellow New Hampshire resident, “but I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”
Organizers altered the schedule several times in response to changing weather with winds gusting to 90 mph that shut down the mountain on Friday. Other events to be run over the course of the five-day championships include the downhill, super G and giant slalom.
Vonn’s victory in the opening event comes after she and Miller won overall World Cup titles for the first American sweep since Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney did it 25 years ago.
No one seemed to be more surprised by her success than Vonn, who didn’t start the season expecting to be in the hunt for a World Cup title. The former Lindsey Kildow was coming off an injury that cut last season short, and she returned to skiing after getting married in September.
Despite her World Cup success, Vonn said she was still pleased to win another national title.
“It means something to me. I know when I was 15 and 16 and coming up in the ranks, I thought that was the coolest thing ever to be the U.S. national champion,” she said.
The day started with the official announcement that Sasha Rearick will serve as men’s head alpine coach, replacing Phil McNichol, who announced his retirement last week.
Rearick, who was expected to arrive at Sugarloaf on Sunday, graduated from Maine’s Gould Academy and Western State University in Colorado. He taught and coached at ski schools in Vermont and France before joining the U.S. Ski Team coaching staff in 2002.
Despite being a big star, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen has frequently connected with the young AVSC athletes while training at Aspen Highlands over the years.