Miller, Rahlves ready for U.S. Alpine Championships
GIRDWOOD, Alaska – Newly crowned World Cup champion Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves – America’s most successful male downhill racer – are headlining upwards of 250 athletes from across the country gathered at Alyeska Resort for the 2004 Chevrolet U.S. Alpine Championships.
Snow shouldn’t be an issue.
A snowstorm left a fresh covering of several inches Tuesday and another trace Wednesday, boosting race conditions at Alyeska, which has received 583 inches of snow.
After training runs Tuesday and Wednesday on Bowl/Gelende racing trail, the championships have a rolling start, which began Thursday with a non-title downhill race, which gives everyone an extra speed event.
The championships get under way today with men’s and women’s downhills.
The week of racing also includes the 11th Chevrolet Return of the Champions, which includes U.S. Ski Team medalists from Olympics and World Championships, who compete in a “relaxed” giant slalom blending alumni and current Ski Team athletes as well as development racers.
Miller won three U.S. titles (super G, slalom and combined) a year ago at Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid, N.Y., while Rahlves, who has developed into a strong three-event World Cup racer, will be competing at the championships for the first time in three seasons.
Bryon Friedman of Park City, Utah, who emerged this season as a World Cup downhiller, and Summit County’s Jake Fiala and NorAm downhill champion J.J. Johnson lead the opposition in the speed events.
World Cup teammates Tom Rothrock, Chip Knight, Dane Spencer, Thomas Vonn and up-and-comers led by NorAm slalom champion Ted Ligety, Jimmy Cochran and Jake Zamansky are out to take Miller down.
On the women’s side, Julia Mancuso won three gold medals (downhill, super G, giant slalom) at Whiteface last season, too.
This year, she will defend against Jonna Mendes, Vail’s Lindsey Kildow, Resi Stiegler, Libby Ludlow and, among others, NorAm overall champion Stacey Cook, NorAm super-G champion Bryna McCarty and Nor Am slalom champion Kaylin Richardson.
The women’s field figures to be wide open with defending slalom champion Kristina Koznick , Vail’s Sarah Schleper and Caroline Lalive skipping the races because of injuries.
“This is the time youngsters can step up,” said U.S. men’s head coach Phil McNichol.
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