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Slalom racers welcome smooth Colorado conditions

The cold, smooth conditions of Colorado snow came as a huge welcome for members of the U.S. men’s alpine team on Thursday.
      Ted Ligety, Jimmy Cochran and Tom Rothrock had free rein to the still-closed terrain at Keystone Ski Resort Thursday morning, and began training on their own exclusive race course on Friday, when Keystone opened to the public.  
     "Ted, Jimmy and 'Rotty' were on the first chairs up for the grand opening. It was fun and went pretty smoothly," head coach Phil McNichol said. "We took some pictures, did some interviews for the media … and opened the resort early because of the recent snowstorms."
    Keystone and the ski team worked out a deal where the team will have exclusive training rights this season to Starfire run on the ski area’s North Peak. The resort will begin turning its lifts for the public Friday morning. Almost three feet of October snowfall accumulation paired with efficient snowmaking allowed Keystone to open six runs to the public on Friday.
    On Thursday, however, the few members of the ski team had a large, open carving radius on one of the public runs to themselves. And having arrived on the heels of the World Cup giant slalom cancellation in Sölden (canceled due to warm temperatures and sloppy snow conditions), the athletes enjoyed the dry and cold snow conditions.


THE COLD, SMOOTH CONDITIONS
of Colorado snow came as a huge welcome for members of the U.S. men’s alpine team on Thursday.
    Ted Ligety, Jimmy Cochran and Tom Rothrock had free rein to the soon-to-be-opened terrain at Keystone Ski Resort Thursday morning, and began training on their own exclusive race course on Friday, when Keystone opened to the public.  
    "Ted, Jimmy and 'Rotty' were on the first chairs up for the grand opening. It was fun and went pretty smoothly," head coach Phil McNichol said. "We took some pictures, did some interviews for the media … and opened the resort early because of the recent snowstorms."
    Keystone and the ski team worked out a deal where the team will have exclusive training rights this season to Starfire run on the ski area’s North Peak. The resort will begin turning its lifts for the public Friday morning. Almost three feet of October snowfall accumulation paired with efficient snowmaking allowed Keystone to open six runs to the public on Friday.
    On Thursday, however, the few members of the ski team had a large, open carving radius on one of the public runs to themselves. And having arrived on the heels of the World Cup giant slalom cancellation in Sölden (canceled due to warm temperatures and sloppy snow conditions), the athletes enjoyed the dry and cold snow conditions.
    “It was great,” said U.S. men’s technical coach Greg Needell. “It was nice to get on some man-made snow. It’s really smooth and consistent, none of those bumps or ice chunks you get on the Pitztal glacier [Austria]. Out there, you go from super-slick, rock-hard ice to extremely grippy, windblown snow, and it’s hard to figure out timing and stay on the course. On a day like today, when we can go out and freeski on something that’s totally smooth and consistent, it’s a treat.”
    Cochran, Rothrock and Ligety began giant slalom training Friday and will move into three days of slalom training on North Peak. Needell said the freeski-to-GS-to-slalom format is the best training formula with which to prepare for a World Cup slalom event.
    “In general the guys get pretty beat up running too many days of slalom in a row,” Needell said. “You have to manipulate the volume with slalom. All three guys seem to ski a lot better slalom after they’ve skied GS. The balance comes in GS. The balance and recovery is so violent in slalom, it’s hard to go from never having to force a turn to having to force it at a maximum level in slalom. GS transitions well into slalom.”
    There were certainly no complaints Friday.
    "Conditions were beautiful, that nice, grippy Colorado snow," Cochran said. "And there were only the three of us … pretty sweet. We had a full-length GS course. It was perfect … but we'll have to mess it up because Keystone does a great job and we won't find something this sweet on the World Cup. We'll probbably inject it for slalom, put some water into the snow because pretty much every World Cup course is watered.
     "Today was smooth and soft — that nice feel-good skiing."
    Cochran, Ligety and Rothrock are set to race in their first World Cup on Nov. 12 in Levi, Finland, one day after the women debut on Nov. 11. Although Ligety is suffering from an injury to his hand after hitting it on a gate while training in Austria, he joined the others for freeskiing on Thursday and is scheduled to continue with training.
    — USSA contributed to this story

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