Georgetown, CO, Nov. 18, 2001--Sweden's Susanne Ekman took charge on the second slalom run Sunday to win the final race of the Nature Valley Alpine Cup, a slalom that served as a tuneup for World Cup racing in three days at Copper Mountain. Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO) had the top U.S. finish, coming in 14th at snowy Loveland Ski Area.
Ekman, fourth in the first run, had a total time of 1:43.83 in the intermittent snow showers, to collect $1,500 as she edged Slovakian teenager Veronika Zuzulova, who was second for the second time in 24 hours. Zuzulova's two-run time was 1:44.21 with Austrian Christine Sponring in third place with a time of 1:44.40.
Schleper, who won both Nor Am Cup slaloms at Loveland a year ago, finished in 1:47.08. Tasha Nelson (Mound, MN), a 1998 Olympian, was 17th and Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO) was 25th in the field of 82.
"I'm just a little bummed out because my timing was not good. I knew I needed more slalom training. I didn't feel ready coming in. But I think, hopefully, it'll help me," Schleper said. "Now I know what I can do in a race and, hopefully, I can really charge in Copper. I finished four runs, so that gives me confidence to charge on the World Cup."
The women regroup this week with the start of continuous racing, starting with a giant slalom Wednesday and a slalom Thursday at nearby Copper Mountain.
NATURE VALLEY ALPINE CUP
Loveland Ski Area, CO - Nov. 18
1. Susanne Ekman, Sweden, 1:43.83
2. Veronika Zuzulova, Slovakia, 1:44.21
3. Christine Sponring, Austria, 1:44.40
4. Elisabetta Biavaschi, Italy, 1:45.07
5. Carin Raich, Austria, 1:45.11
U.S. skiers in the top 30:
14. Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 1:47.08
17. Tasha Nelson, Mound, Minn., 1:47.45
25. Caroline Lalive, Steamboat Springs, Colo., 1:48.99
26. Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, Wyo., 1:49.01
28. Erika Hogan, Holmes, N.Y., 1:49.31
29. Jessica Kelley, Starksboro, Vt., 1:49.63