Copper Mountain, CO, Nov. 21, 2001--Norway's Andrine Flemmen, shaking off the effects from a knee injury a year ago, picked up her second World Cup win Saturday while Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) tore out of No. 50 start and finished ninth in giant slalom at the Chevy Truck Women's World Challenge.
ESPN will televise coverage from Copper Mountain Sunday at 5 p.m. EST.
Flemmen was deadlocked with Sonja Nef of Switzerland, the reigning World Cup and world GS champion after the first run but Nef struggled a bit on her second run, opening the door for Flemmen, who missed of late season after injuring her right knee during training in Aspen, Colo. Her victorious two-run time was 2:23.81. Canadian Allison Forsyth, fourth in the season-opening race Oct. 27, earned the fourth second-place finish of her career in 2:24.48 and Nef was third.
Meanwhile, Clark - the Carrabssett Valley Academy grad, whose best previous World Cup GS had been 26th last winter in Park City -- had been savoring the moment. Starting 50th, she came down 21st in the first run, and when she lit-up the hill on her final run, she got to wait "on the bubble" as racer after racer couldn't match, much less top, her time of 2:25.27.
Throw-back to a World Cup win
"Yeah, it reminded me of Lenzerheide," Clark said with a grin, recalling her downhill victory last February in Switzerland. "I came down fifth there and had to wait for everyone...
"The first run I had a lot of nerves and I was a little stiff and I didn't ski the top section of the course as well as I could have," Clark said. She checked with Coaches Marjan Cerigoj and Thomas Stauffer, regrouped "and sort of made a plan for what I should do for second run. I guess I was a little bit disappointed because I felt I could've skied better on the fist run and I definitely went for it on the second run. ...The nerves definitely played a role in the first run, technically and tactically. I was just a little bit off," she said.
"Copper did a great job. The race crew did a great job keeping it smooth," she said, and course reports from her teammates and other coaches helps her visualize potential trouble spots on her first run. She attacked the bottom and looked to increase the aggressiveness on her final run. With that accomplished, Clark said she would be taking more confidence into the two downhills and a super-G Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies.
Cernigoj saluted Clark, citing her "professional approach" to training throughout the preseason as well as her obviously strong skiing despite a way-back start number. "I cheer for one but I worry for the others," he said, referring to the frustrating performances by other U.S. racers. Only Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) also had a second run and she had problems before finishing 30th (2:27.32).
He pointed to the Ski Team's weather-troubled training camps in Chile, Norway and central Europe plus another European camp lost following the attacks of Sept. 11, which grounded many Americans. The women are in a catch-up mode, trying to train, race and make-up lost training time, he said. "The Europeans just out-ski us in September and October-time. They have the luxury of staying home when the weather's bad and coming out to train on glaciers when it's sunny," he explained.
Cavagnoud remembered at Copper
Many racers wore a black ribbon or armband to honor the memory of French skier Regine Cavagnoud, the 2001 world and World Cup super G champion who died in a fluke on-course crash during training on the Pitztal Glacier in Austria shortly after the season opener in Soelden, Austria. Coincidentally, Cavagnoud marked her return to World Cup racing from injuries by winning the Chevy Truck GS at Copper in November 1999. Organizers showed TV footage of her winning run on the big-screen TVs in the finish area.
Clark, echoing the top three finishers, praised Cavagnoud as "a great competitor but, even more so, she was a greatt person and she's definitely missed on the the World Cup circuit." Forsyth added, "I think everyone misses Regine."
The World Cup stop at Copper -- the second time in three seasons the Summit County resort has taken women's races because of little or no snow elsewhere -- concludes Thursday with the first slalom of the season.
CAFE de COLOMBIA ALPINE WORLD CUP
Chevy Truck Women's World Challenge
Copper Mountain, CO - Nov. 21
Women's Giant Slalom
1. Andrine Flemmen, Norway, 2:23.81
2. Allison Forsyth, Canada, 2:24.48
3. Sonja Nef, Switzerland, 2:24.50
4. Karen Putzer, Italy, 2:24.67
5. Stina Hogard Nilsen, 2:24.80
6. Carole Montillet, France, 2:25.06
7. Michaela Dorfmeister, Austria, 2:25.08
8. Caroline Pellat-Finet, France, 2:25.20
9. Kirsten Clark, Raymond, Maine, 2:25.27
10. Alexandra Meissnitzer, Austria, 2:25.31
30. Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 2:27.32