April 1, 2007
GIRDWOOD, ALASKA - (USST News Bureau Release) - Jimmy Cochran (Keene, NH), returning to the venue where he won two gold medals three years ago, collected his third U.S. title Sunday as he won the men's slalom on Day Three of the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships. Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) earned his third straight U.S. combined gold medal.
"I don't know what it is, but I wish they'd hold a World Cup up here," Cochran laughed. "That would be very nice."
Versus, formerly OLN, will broadcast coverage from the championships Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.
Cochran clan reunion
The 2004 U.S. championships, which turned out to be a major "Skiing Cochrans" reunion involving his grandmother, Ginny (who died in 2005 as Cochran prepared to race at the World Championships in Italy), plus her four children - all Olympians, including his dad, Bob, who won seven U.S. titles. Jimmy Cochran marked the occasion by winning the '04 slalom and giant slalom titles on consecutive days.
Sunday, Cochran tied Ligety in the 61-gate first run - Cochran skied No. 1 and Ligety raced No. 2 - and fought his way down the 66-gate second run to finish with a total time of 1:45.72. Ligety was silver medalist in 1:46.04 with Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) turning-in the second-fastest final run to move up four places as he completed the podium (1:47.15).
In the combined calculation, blending results from the downhill Friday and the slalom, Ligety made it three straight U.S. titles with a time of 3:31.74. T.J. Lanning (Park City, UT) - sixth Sunday after posting the fastest second run - was second (3:32.54) with Cochran as bronze medalist at 3:32.74.
Cochran theorized that perhaps part of his comfort level came from recalling his late grandmother; he lived with her the last couple of summers she was alive, and they shared a special bond, he said. "Y'know, part of it might be my grandmother's spirit. She had a great spirit and she was here last time, cheering - that was a lot of fun for us...and I could feel her spirit today. It's like a spiritual thing, I guess - her memory or whatever. ...Whatever it is, it's motivating for me."
Cochran made early start pay off
Reflecting on a frustrating World Cup season, Cochran said, "This is the whole game - two good runs. I had 'em today and that was different on the World Cup. Starting first in that first run was huge...really, HUGE. The snow was buffed, just perfect snow, and I could let things go. Second run, it was a matter of hanging on.
"On this course, it's real easy to look for speed. I could really push it." The course "is not too steep, but not flat, either - nice and in-between, so you can make speed and then not have to pay on some steep pitch," he added.
The men have a day off Monday before concluding their title races Tuesday with giant slalom.
For complete results: www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?event_id=21397&cal_suchsector=AL.