Sullivan, Richardson win U.S. downhill titles |

Sullivan, Richardson win U.S. downhill titles

GIRDWOOD, Alaska – Kaylin Richardson couldn’t remember the last time she won a downhill – at any level.After thinking about it for a few moments, she realized that her victory in the downhill at the U.S. Alpine Championships was her first ever in the fastest of the four disciplines.”You know what? I’ve never won a downhill before,” said Richardson, who won the slalom in the U.S. championships last year. “It’s a good one to win, I guess.”

There was little question that Richardson’s time of 1 minute, 48.34 seconds would stand through the rest of the competition. It ended up being 1.7 seconds better than Julia Littman in second (1:50.04) and Chelsea Marshall in third (1:50.14).Richardson, a 22-year-old from Edina, Minn., got a quick hug and congratulations at the finish from Julia Mancuso, the top skier on the women’s national team. Mancuso, who won the 2006 Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom and placed third in this season’s World Cup overall standings, finished sixth (1:51.20).Mancuso already has seven national titles and plans to test new skis during this week’s championships at Alyeska Resort.

“In downhill, it kind of matters how long you’ve had your skis on the snow. it’s a pretty flat course and I just don’t think they were running very well,” Mancuso said. “They definitely didn’t feel fast. They turn well, though.”The women’s downhill was held in the afternoon with the sun shining brightly on the western face of the course. The men raced earlier in the day and the last half of the run was in the shade, making visibility a little difficult toward the finish.Marco Sullivan saw his line clearly and finished more than a second ahead of the rest of the field with a time of 1:43.70. It was the first national title for Sullivan since the super-G in 2002 at Squaw Valley, his home mountain.”I don’t know. Obviously I had something figured out that other guys didn’t,” Sullivan said. “I was able to hold my line and hold my tuck in some spots where some other guys weren’t and I guess that paid off.”

Erik Fisher was second (1:44.79), followed by Jeremy Transue (1:44.85).Sullivan stood at the bottom of the course and watched the racers come in, confident his time would be tough to beat but knowing Bode Miller was still to go.Once Miller, the eight-time national champion and World Cup overall winner in 2005, completed his run at 1:45.62, Sullivan knew he had won.

“I don’t really know what to say. I had a really good run,” said Sullivan, who missed two years after tearing a knee ligament in a fall at Beaver Creek, Colo., in 2004.Miller, who won the national downhill title a year ago, barely had any training time on the course because his equipment did not arrive until early Friday while he was sleeping. He finished 12th.”There’s not really anything to say about it,” Miller said with a shrug. “It’s hard to figure out where to make up time on a course like that.”

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