|SUGARLOAF, Maine (March 26) - Lauren Ross (Stowe, VT) powered through freshly falling snow to win the giant slalom on the closing day of the 2008 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf.|
"I'm psyched to have this title. I had to get a little fired up for that last run," said Ross, who missed the entire 2007 season with a torn ACL. "I was a little disappointed in how I skied in my first run so I knew there was a lot more to come for the second. I really had nothing to lose. I had a really solid run in the difficult section of the second run, so I knew it was going to be OK."
This is the first national title for Ross, a U.S. Ski Team athlete and Dartmouth College student, who had been under the weather earlier in the week, but pulled it together to nail down her win with a time of 2:15.22.
"I hadn't been able to really put it together in races this season, but training has been going well and to finish out the season so strong is good," Ross said.
Laurenne Ross (Klamath Falls, OR), a U.S. Development Team athlete from the Mount Bachelor Ski Education Foundation program, finished second in the women's GS at 2:15.31.
"It went pretty well but I think I gave it what I had," Laurenne Ross said. "I think my season was up and down, but my ups were really good and this is a good end. I'm just really happy for Lauren to win and with how things ended."
The U.S. Ski Team's Libby Ludlow (Seattle, WA), also a student at Dartmouth, finished third with a combined race time of 2:15.71.
"It's nice to finish the season on the podium. To be on the podium for nationals is satisfying," Ludlow said.
The Tom Garner Regions Cup also was awarded at the end the women's competition to USSA's Western Region with 3,012 points. The Regions Cup is determined by points accumulated throughout the U.S. Championships from the top 10 finishers of each event. The East finished second with 2,623 points, followed by Rocky Central with 1,428 points.
High praise for Sugarloaf
The 2008 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships got off to a rocky start when a storm blew high winds in excess of 100 mph and forced event organizers to cancel training runs and the annual FIS downhill. Despite the weather, all U.S. Championship races were completed successfully.
"If you had told me last weekend that we would be here on a Wednesday afternoon having pulled off all the disciplines to be able to crown national champions, I would have thought you were a bit mad," Senior Events Manager Mike Henderson said. "But it's a testament to the race crews, the volunteers and the organizing committee of Sugarloaf who pulled off a fantastically exciting and successful National Championships."
"It was definitely a challenge but we had a good group of people making decisions and it all worked," said Sugarloaf Competition Director James McCormack. "It's absolutely huge what the volunteers have done, as well. We couldn't have done it without them."
"It couldn't be better snow conditions. It's been great. Sugarloaf always has a great event. It's a good mountain and I'm an Eastern girl," Lauren Ross said.
The 2008 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships conclude the racing season for the U.S. Alpine Ski Team.
2008 NATURE VALLEY U.S. ALPINE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sugarloaf, ME - March 26, 2008
Women's Giant Slalom
1. Lauren Ross, Stowe, VT, 2:15.22
2. Laurenne Ross, Klamath Falls, OR, 2:15.31
3. Libby Ludlow, Seattle, WA, 2:15.71
4. Jessica Kelley, Starksboro, VT, 2:15.72
5. Stacey Cook, Mammoth, CA, 2:15.99
1. Laurenne Ross, Klamath Falls, OR, 2:15.31
2. Erika Ghent, Edwards, CO, 2:17.93
3. Kirsten Cooper, Eagle, CO,2:18.74
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com