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Ryan and Bennett lock up NorAm downhill titles


The U.S. Ski Team's Katie Ryan (GEPA/Florian Ertl)

The U.S. Ski Team’s Katie Ryan (GEPA/Florian Ertl)

The U.S. Ski Team’s Katie Ryan successfully defended her NorAm downhill title from 2013 after winning the final race in the discipline this year in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada on Thursday (Feb. 12). Her American teammate, Bryce Bennett, who finished third in last year’s standings, improved to take the complementary men’s title for 2014.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished as runner-up in the men’s standings and Julia Ford, who will head to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi to race the slalom next week, finished second in the women’s standings after winning Wednesday’s race.

Canadian Dustin Cook leads the men’s overall standings, and he picked up two career-best downhill results on the heels of fellow countryman Jeffrey Frisch in both Tuesday and Wednesday’s races. On Cook’s 25th birthday, he scored an 8.55-point result after finishing second behind Frisch and beating the rest of the field by 0.65 seconds. With similar results on Wednesday, Cook effectively cut his downhill points from 22 to 10 after taking full advantage of the sprint course.

“Conditions are really good, firm and icy but fairly grippy. The course (was) really short and easy other than one bump at the bottom that nobody seemed to have figured out yet,” said Cook.  “Just tried to charge and keep it smooth on a course where any mistake can take you out of contention pretty quickly.”

Despite back-to-back victories in the final races, Frisch could only manage to finish third in the standings, just one point behind Cochran-Siegle, after missing the first two races of the series while competing on the World Cup circuit. Bennett, certainly no stranger to the World Cup himself, was able to secure the title with consistent results in all four NorAm races. The Squaw Valley native finished on the podium in both December contests at Copper Mountain, Colo., and added fourth and eighth places in Canada to steadily pile on the points throughout the season.

In the women’s series, Ryan was thrilled to successfully defend her title after making a critical correction in her run from Tuesday to Wednesday.

“I had one pretty costly technical error yesterday that I knew I could clean up for today, and I was able to do so,” noted Ryan after Wednesday’s win. “The track continued to get down to a harder surface so I decided to run my line out a little bit more today, knowing I had something better to push off of.”

Canadian national team skier Madison Irwin currently holds a 37-point lead over development teamer Julia Roth in the chase for the women’s overall, a coveted title that grants the victor a World Cup start in every discipline for the following season.

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