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U.S. Nat'ls: Slalom title is Vonn's, combined Mancuso's

The World Cup contingent was splitting hairs for the national slalom title on Sunday. Amidst more falling snow and poor visibility in Alyeska – not to mention settled volcanic ash and nearby avalanches – Lindsey Vonn added to her incredible season and her heavy case of medals, winning the U.S. alpine championship women’s slalom crown.

Tying Julia Mancuso after the first run, Vonn finished the race just .10 seconds ahead of veteran racer Sarah Schleper with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 43.17 seconds. Mancuso ended up third, .31 off of Vonn’s winning pace.

“The girls did a great job today,” said U.S. women’s head coach Jim Tracy. “It was pretty exciting seeing Lindsey and Julia battling along with Sarah right up there. There were also some new faces up near the top too, which is exactly what you want to see at the U.S. championships. All the athletes did a tremendous job in super tough conditions, even Lindsey had to adjust they way she skis to be fast today.”

It is Vonn’s third national slalom title. She also won last year in Sugarloaf and in 2004 on the same hill in Alyeska.The World Cup contingent was splitting hairs for the national slalom title on Sunday. Amidst more falling snow and poor visibility in Alyeska – not to mention settled volcanic ash and nearby avalanches – Lindsey Vonn added to her incredible season and her heavy case of medals, winning the U.S. alpine championship women’s slalom crown.

Tying Julia Mancuso after the first run, Vonn finished the race just .10 seconds ahead of veteran racer Sarah Schleper with a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 43.17 seconds. Mancuso ended up third, .31 off of Vonn’s winning pace.

“The girls did a great job today,” said U.S. women’s head coach Jim Tracy. “It was pretty exciting seeing Lindsey and Julia battling along with Sarah right up there. There were also some new faces up near the top too, which is exactly what you want to see at the U.S. championships. All the athletes did a tremendous job in super tough conditions, even Lindsey had to adjust they way she skis to be fast today.”

It is Vonn’s third national slalom title. She also won last year in Sugarloaf and in 2004 on the same hill in Alyeska.

“Just like yesterday, I didn’t think it was even possible that we’d be able to race, but everyone did such an incredible job getting the hill ready,” Vonn said. “It’s cool to be duking it out with your friends, that’s what makes U.S. Championships so much fun. Julia and I were tied going into the second run, then Sarah has a super impressive run to move up – it was pretty exciting.”

A national combined title was also determined by results from the slalom and Saturday’s downhill and Mancuso, who was second in the downhill, will claim that crown.

Mancuso skipped last year’s championships, but has national champs victories and podiums in every discipline dating all the way back to 2000 in Jackson, Wyoming, where she took second in super-G.

After a delayed second run start (3 p.m. local time), the race could have been anyone’s as Nor-Am regular Katie Hitchcock was sitting just .20 seconds behind Vonn and Mancuso after the first run and up-and-coming World Cup slalom force Hailey Duke was about a half second off the pace, as were Megan McJames and Schleper.

Then McJames, whose best World Cup results have come in giant slalom (she took 14th in Soelden this season, surpassing her previous best Cup result of 17th in Lienz from 2007) skied into the lead in the second run. Schleper, who recently turned 30, is likely the oldest woman racing at this year’s championships and is fresh off of two giant slalom wins – a Nor-Am in Lake Placid and a FIS race in St. Anton, earlier this month. A new mother who had baby Lasse and husband Federico on tour with her, Schleper’s best World Cup result this season was a 13th in the Aspen giant slalom. Her last national champs medal was a gold in slalom in 2005 at Mammoth Mountain.

McJames ended up fourth when it was all over on Sunday, finishing in 1:44.41 and Duke was behind her in fifth (1:44.85). Hitchcock went down in the second run as Laurenne Ross, who was second in last year’s national champs giant slalom race, took sixth and newly crowned national downhill champion Kaylin Richardson seventh.

The best junior result came from nearly 19-year-old (on Monday) Julia Ford, who was eighth (1:46.08) and who also raised eyebrows on Saturday with her seventh-place national downhill finish. Also, Devin Delaney, who just turned 18 last month, finished ninth ahead of Stacey Cook in 10th, Canadian junior Alexandra Parker was 11th and 17-year-old Vanessa Berther, wearing bib No. 43, tied Annie Rendall for 12th.

“It’s great to see all the younger racers,” Vonn said. “Julia Ford was fast in the downhill yesterday and she was the top junior today, so I’m going to keep an eye on her.”

The forecast in Alyeska is calling for more blowing snow and wind tonight as the women’s nationals wrap up Monday with giant slalom.

“The crew here completely deserves all the praise,” Tracy said.  “We’ve had 30 inches of snow, wind, volcanic ash falling from the sky, everything you can think of short of an earthquake and these guys have done an amazing job getting the job done.”


US Alpine Championships

Women’s Slalom
Alyeska, Alaska
March 29, 2009

1 Lindsey VONN, USA/84    1:43.17
2 Sarah SCHLEPER, USA/79    1:43.27
3 Julia MANCUSO, USA/84    1:43.48
4 Megan MCJAMES, USA/87    1:44.41
5 Hailey DUKE, USA/85    1:44.85
6 Laurenne ROSS, USA/88    1:45.05
7 Kaylin RICHARDSON, USA/84    1:45.08
8 Julia FORD, USA/90    1:46.08
9 Devin DELANEY, USA/91    1:47.25
10 Stacey COOK, USA/84    1:47.82
11 Alexandra PARKER, CAN/89    1:47.83
12 Vanessa BERTHER, USA/92    1:48.73
12 Annie RENDALL, USA/90    1:48.73
14 Angel COLLINSON, USA/90    1:48.88
15 Chelsea MARSHALL, USA/86    1:49.32
16 Kristin LEGGETT, USA/90    1:49.65
17 Lacy SAUGSTAD, USA/84    1:49.71
18 Madeline PACKARD, USA/90    1:49.89
19 Erika GHENT, USA/88    1:50.31
20 Anna MARNO, USA/92    1:50.32
21 Sofia SMITH, USA/88    1:50.48
22 Rose CASTON, USA/92    1:50.68
23 Danielle GOVAN, USA/89    1:50.76
24 Brooke WALES, USA/90    1:52.71
25 Abigail FUCIGNA, USA/91    1:52.76
26 Alice MCKENNIS, USA/89    1:54.17
27 Christine SCHOZER, USA/90    1:54.81
28 Allison EMPEY, CAN/85    1:54.82
29 Whitney SETTERBERG, USA/91    1:55.91
30 Kaylee Ann CORTOPASSI, USA/90    1:56.87
31 Alice RALSTON, NZE/89    1:56.88
32 Cassady ROBERTS, USA/91    1:57.08
33 Aylin WOODWARD, USA/92    1:57.78
34 Valerie PORGES, USA/90    1:58.15
35 Katrina STEWART, USA/91    1:58.23
36 Joanna COFFEY, USA/92    1:58.28
37 Sarah WILLIAMS, USA/91    1:58.89
38 Taylor VERDUN, USA/91    1:59.59
39 Laura CREWS, USA/92    2:00.32
40 Mary SACKBAUER, USA/92    2:00.59
41 Tanya MILLER, USA/90    2:02.20
42 Geordie LONZA, USA/89    2:03.63
43 Shane MCLEAN, USA/92    2:14.77
44 Abby GHENT, USA/92    2:15.81
45 Mary Rachel HOSTETTER, USA/90    2:17.19


Women’s Combined
(slalom and downhill)

1 Julia MANCUSO, USA    174.01
2 Lindsey VONN, USA    174.7
3 Kaylin RICHARDSON, USA    175.26
4 Megan MCJAMES, USA    176.14
5 Laurenne ROSS, USA    177.48
6 Julia FORD, USA    177.57
7 Stacey COOK, USA    178.54
8 Chelsea MARSHALL, USA    180.61
9 Devin DELANEY, USA    181.67
10 Angel COLLINSON, USA    182.24
11 Vanessa BERTHER, USA    182.52
12 Rose CASTON, USA    182.73
13 Anna MARNO, USA    183.57
14 Kristin LEGGETT, USA    183.6
15 Erika GHENT, USA    184.62
16 Annie RENDALL, USA    185.45
17 Alice MCKENNIS, USA    185.56
18 Brooke WALES, USA    185.69
19 Danielle GOVAN, USA    185.78
20 Abigail FUCIGNA, USA    189.2
21 Aylin WOODWARD, USA    192.42
22 Kaylee Ann CORTOPASSI, USA    192.62
23 Valerie PORGES, USA    193.66
24 Mary SACKBAUER, USA    194.93
25 Taylor VERDUN, USA    196.36
26 Joanna COFFEY, USA    196.95
27 Sarah WILLIAMS, USA    197.32
28 Geordie LONZA, USA    197.55
29 Laura CREWS, USA    198.99
30 Tanya MILLER, USA    199.41
31 Shane MCLEAN, USA    210.35
32 Mary Rachel HOSTETTER, USA    211.89
33 Abby GHENT, USA    212.04

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