January 7, 2007
KRANSJSKA GORA, SLOVENIA — (USST News Bureau Release) - Olympian Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN) earned the first World Cup top-10 of her career Sunday, finishing eighth in a slalom won by World Cup leader Marlies Schild of Austria.
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In a race moved from Maribor because of poor snow, Schild continued her slalom domination, winning for the fifth time this season in six races; her time was 1:40.96 with Czech Sarka Zahrobska second (1:41.62).
"Not bad, huh? She learned from Zagreb," Head Coach Chris Knight said, a reference to Thursday night in Croatia when she was 15th in the first run and got anxious before her second run under the lights. "She laid one down this time. Kaylin's skiing so well - good position, good balance, she's stable. It's all coming together for her."
From top-15 to top-10
Richardson, 14th in the morning run, had the third-fastest second run to finish in 1:43.19. Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) was 18th (1:44.56) while Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY), seventh in the opening run, straddled a gate and didn't finish her second run. Caitlin Ciccone (Bethlehem, NH) didn't make second run and Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO) crashed in the first run.
"I'm smiling; that was an exciting second run," said Richardson, a three-time NorAm slalom champion who got her first two World Cup top-15s last month (in a super G and super combined). "Today was a good day. The first run I skied well on top and had a bobble on the bottom, so the second I wanted to do exactly the same but keep it together and fix the bottom part of my run."
Jubilant in the finish, Richardson added, "I just skied really well. I did what I know how to do. Yeah, it's a big confidence for me...
"This course is pretty much in the shadow all day long, and there's no snow any other place. The race organizers did a great job of preparation. the conditions were so good, and the (course) sets were good, too, and I heard that from so many of the other girls on other teams. Chris and an Italian set the courses and they were so nice...fun to ski..."
She agreed with Knight that Zagreb played a key role in her top-10 breakthrough; she was 15th in the first run but slid back to 17th. "Zagreb was big for me. It's all a building process with everyone. The World Cup is tough - it's the World Cup! - and getting that second run is a 50-foot wall. But once you've been on top a couple of times, you start to believe you have what it takes...and I know I have it."
Athletes' energy, results fuel teammates
Team dynamics also played a role in her breakthrough, according to Richardson. "It's an exciting time for the U.S. Ski Team. All the girls are skiing fast. Caitlin's skiing so fast, too, and I've told her. This was only her sixth World Cup and I skied so many World Cups before I got that second run, and she'll get there. We've got so much positive energy bouncing off each other...and, of course, we're dominating the speed events..."
Knight also praised organizers for the "fantastic" conditions. "They know how to do much with so little, and it's been great here. You still could qualify from last place in that first run," he said.
"We're in a good place with slalom - we've got three girls making top-10s (Stiegler, Mancuso and Richardson) and making runs that are really competitive, and we'll get Lindsey back in there, too. She's a strong slalom skier," the coach said, "but she's got so much going on...and she's having such great results in downhill, but we've got a slalom and super combined next weekend along with a downhill, so a couple of days of training slalom can get her back in there, too."
The next women's World Cup races include a three-day visit to Zauchensee, Austria - a super combined, downhill and slalom, starting Friday.
For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=AL&event_id=20689.