Cochran, Kildow Win SLs in U.S. Alpine Championships

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GIRDWOOD, Alaska March 22, 2004 (AP by Doug Alden) - Despite a painful fall that left her woozy and knocked her out of the downhill, Lindsey Kildow is having quite a run at the U.S. Alpine Championships.

Kildow has two victories after three races, capturing her first slalom title Sunday. She successfully switched gears from speed to technical skiing one day after winning the super giant slalom.

``It's definitely been a great end of my season,'' Kildow said. And she may not be done. Kildow can win a third title Tuesday in the giant slalom. The women have Monday off, while the men wrap up their races with the GS at Alyeska, which went from frigid to almost balmy on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Kildow was the defending champion in the combined event, which counts the downhill and slalom, but lost a chance at repeating when her skis got crossed Friday and she hit the snow hard. Kildow said she had a slight concussion, but was cleared to ski Saturday.

``It just took a lot of relaxing and forgetting about it and just moving on to the next day,'' said Kildow, who grew up outside the Twin Cities but now skis out of Vail. ``Right now, my skiing is really awesome and I know that. Just because I crash one day doesn't mean I can't win the next. That's kind of the approach I took.''

The men's slalom went to Jimmy Cochran, a first-time national champion from a family that has won many.

His grandfather, Mickie Cochran, coached the U.S. alpine team in the early 1970s and had four children star for the U.S. team. Jimmy's father, Bob, is a former Olympian and World Cup racer along with sisters Barbara, Marilyn and Lindy. Barbara won the 1972 Olympic slalom gold, and Marilyn was the 1969 World Cup GS champion.

And two more family members got top-10 finishes Saturday. Roger Brown, son of Marylin, and Jessica Kelley, Lindy's daughter, both placed sixth. ``It was important to me. I don't think they were putting any pressure on me,'' Cochran said. ``But it's really fun skiing with them all here - having the whole crew. It's kind of like a family vacation.''

The family has been getting together every spring for nationals and several members skied Saturday afternoon in a parallel slalom race that featured some of the top U.S. alumni and a few current members of the team.

``They're very competitive, but they sort of enjoy sports for the sake of the sport, not so much for the sake of winning,'' Jimmy Cochran said.

Cochran, part of the U.S. ``C'' team, led by 0.38 seconds after the morning run and increased it with a flawless afternoon run to finish with a combined time of 1:31.91. He had to wait a second or two after crossing the finish line before the scoreboard flashed his time to confirm he had beaten Jesse Marshall (1:32.51) and 11-year U.S. team veteran Chip Knight (1:32.89).

Cochran, fifth in the U.S. Championship slalom a year ago and third in the NCAA giant slalom while skiing for the University of Vermont, was immediately swarmed by teammates and family, who hugged and congratulated him for his first championship.

Kildow easily won the women's slalom after two of her closest competitors went off course. She finished with a combined time of 1:35.53. Julia Mancuso was second (1:36.01), followed by Katy Hitchcock (1:36.92).

Mancuso got her third second-place finish in three races. But with her silver in the downhill on Friday, she walked away with the gold in the combined. Men's downhill winner Bryon Friedman took the combined with an 11th-place finish in the slalom.

Bode Miller, the top American skier in the World Cup, slipped on his opening run and finished 54th out of 56.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press

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