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10 U.S. Skiers Hit Soelden Openers

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Soelden, Austria, Oct. 26, 2001– Ten Americans, including seven men and three women, will be racing this weekend on the Rettenbacher Glacier above Soelden as the Cafe de Colombia World Cup season opens and athletes begin chasing Olympic Team spots for Utah in February.

Nearly a foot of new snow this week spruced-up course conditions.

The schedule calls for women’s giant slalom Saturday and men’s GS Sunday before the skiers take a short hiatus. The season really heats up Nov. 15-18 at the Chevy Truck Aspen Winternational in Aspen, Colo., with giant slalom and slalom for both men and women.

Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), who had the first two podiums of her career -one in GS, one in slalom-last season, will be joined Saturday byCaroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN). Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT), Bode Miller (Franconia, NH),Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), Thomas Vonn (Newburgh, NY), Dane Spencer (Boise, ID), Chip Knight (Stowe, VT) and Casey Puckett(Aspen, CO) are set to race Sunday.

“I’m feeling great. I’m looking forward to racing again,” said Miller, who is coming back from a left knee injury suffered at the World Championships in February. He rehabbed it without surgery and “has been on fire, really looking good,” said men’s Coach Jesse Hunt.

Schlopy had a pair of second-place finishes last season en route to grabbing the best U.S. men’s giant slalom results since Phil Mahre won the World Cup overall and GS titles in 1983. Spencer is returning with continued back problems that limited his racing over the last two seasons, while Knight and Puckett earned their start spots based on performances during recent time trials in Europe.

Check back with skinet.com for Soelden results.