Lake Placid, N.Y. (March, 25 2003) AP — Veterans Bode Miller and Erik Schlopy set the pace, and rookie Jesse Marshall showed he could keep up.
Marshall capped a promising week by finishing third in the giant slalom as the U.S. Alpine Championship men’s events came to a close Monday.
Schlopy won the event in a time of 2 minutes, 24.64 seconds, coming from behind to edge Miller by 0.31 seconds in sloppy conditions at Whiteface Mountain. But Schlopy was more impressed by Marshall’s performance.
“He’s kind of been the diamond in the rough,'”Schlopy said of Marshall, who also finished third in Sunday’s slalom. “Now the coaches see his potential, see that he works hard. And it’s paying off.”
“He’s really on the right progression.”
For Schlopy, the test of the national championships is in having the World Cup-experienced members set the pace for the team’s younger members.
Marshall was elated.
“I’m just blown away by the weekend I’ve had,'”he said. “They were my goals going in, but to set goals and actually reach them at a series like this is just unbelievable. I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
Marshall’s performance follows a solid showing at the Nor-Am Finals a week earlier, where he earned three top-three finishes, including a win in the giant slalom.
“It puts a little more pressure on me,”Marshall said, looking ahead to next season. “I might feel a little more eyes on me, a little more expectations to perform. But I’m ready to rise to the challenge.”
The national championships conclude with the women’s giant slalom Tuesday.
Miller’s second-place finish in the giant slalom ended his bid to become the first skier in 44 years to win four U.S. championship events.
Miller won the super giant slalom, slalom and combined, which includes his slalom and fourth-place downhill finish. Buddy Werner won four events at the 1959 nationals.
It’s been a great season for Miller, who finished second in the World Cup standings and became the first American to win three medals at the Alpine World Championships.
And he’s encouraged by the potential for success the entire men’s team has going into next season.
“For sure, the potential’s there,”Miller said. “I’ve been at the top, I know what it takes to win and these guys have it. It’s just a gap between training and racing right now. It’s a tough gap to bridge, but if they can do it, then we’re going to have a lot of guys on the podium.”
Schlopy was looking forward to taking a break, ending a season in which he began re-establishing his place among the elite. After leading U.S. skiers with eight top-10 World Cup finishes in 2001, Schlopy struggled last season with mononucleosis and bronchitis.
He rebounded this year, winning a bronze in the giant slalom in the worlds and finished 29th in the World Cup standings.
“More elation than winning the race was the fact it was my last run of the season,'” Schlopy said. “It’s time to take a break, let the body heal up.”
U.S. ALPINE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
The Associated Press
1. Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah, 2 minutes, 24.64 seconds.
2. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 2:24.95.
3. Jesse Marshall, Pittsfield, Vt., 2:25.95.
4. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, N.Y., 2:26.84.
5. Jake Zamansky, Carbondale, Col., 2:26.95.
6. Chip Knight, Stowe, Vt., 2:27.17.
7. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, Wash., 2:27.82.
8. Steve Nyman, Sundance, Utah., 2:28.00.
9. Jeff Harrison, Steilacom, Wash., 2:28.23.
10. Martin Kroisleitner, Austria, 2:28.29.