U.S. Women Ready for DH Opener - Ski Mag

U.S. Women Ready for DH Opener

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Lake Louise, Alberta Nov. 28, 2001 (USSA)--U.S. Head Coach Marjan Cernigojpronounced American racers "ready to go" Wednesday after the finaltraining run for the first women's World Cup speed races of the seasonat Lake Louise Ski Area.

Outdoor Life Network will boadcast coverage from the two downhills Dec.3 at 9 p.m. EST and Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. EST for the super G.

Canadian favorite Melanie Turgeon had the fastest time (1:38.23) in thethird training run over two days with German Regina Haeusl, returning toracing after missing last season because of a shattered leg suffered inthe final race of the 2000 season, in second place, .44 back. Top U.S.result came from Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA), who said she was plaguedby fogged goggles as she came out of the start but still finished 18thon her favorite World Cup hill.

"It's kind of tough," Mendes said with a wry smile, "when you get downinto your tuck and you're trying to keep your head down...but I had topull my head back to look out of the bottom of my fogged goggles."Mendes bagged her first top-30, first top-20 and first top-10 at LakeLouise; coming back from a broken bone in her ankle last spring, she'sglad the first races will be at Louise, about 120 miles west of Calgaryin the Canadian Rockies. "I like this place," she said.

Elsewhere among the Americans, Picabo Street (Park City, UT) was 20thwith Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) 25th and Lindsey C. Kildow(Vail, CO) 26th and Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME) 32nd in the field of 68.In a race-within-the-race involving two skiers from Bellevue, Wash., andthe Crystal Mountain program, Tatum Skoglund edged Libby Ludlow in thelast training run to earn the eighth and final U.S. start spot Thursdayin the first of two downhills.

"I think the girls are comfortable. They're ready to go," Cernigoj said."We still have to clean-up some things, but it's been good training."Lalive echoed her coach, noting, "Because the snow was so poor thisfall, I don't think a lot of skiers got much downhill training, so we'vebeen getting used to the course but also trying to use it as a goodtechnique training...and I think it's been good."

"It feels good to be back here," Street said, adding she also was"feeling some nostalgia for the old Lake Louise," especially the startof the 1995 season when she won her first World Cup race at the CanadianRockies resort. "I'm starting to feel comfortable. ...We have a goodstrong team. We have a good chance this weekend.

"In the more difficult sections of the course I'm able to run a bad-boyline and to have the confidence to do thatv means I'm making strides,"she said. "I still doubt myself every now and again -- I can't lie toyou about that one -- but it is getting better."

Street, the defending Olympic SG champion, unveiled a new racing helmetadorned with snakes. "Snakes are a sign of power and i need all theassistance I can get in that category," she explained in the finish;previous helmets also have tied-in to power, including ram's horns andthe tiger which decorated her helmet when she collected her Olympicsuper G gold medal in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. Street also noted she'sadded a "dedication section" on her mouthguard, including a Ground Zerosymbol, an Austrian flag for Uli Maier, a French flag for RegineCavagnoud and the number 3 in honor of Dale Earnhardt.

The women are scheduled to compete Thursday and Friday in DH, thenconclude the Winterstart World Cup will a super G Saturday. In additionto Clark, Mendes, Street, Lalive, Kildow, and Skoglund, the U.S. willstart Katie Monahan (Aspen, CO) and Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA).

In a related development, officials said the super G scheduled for Dec.6 in Val d'Isere, France, had been shifted because of poor snow to Dec.14 in Megeve, France. A GS in Val d'Isere also was threatened.

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