Nine at World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden


Are, Sweden, March 7, 2001--Nine U.S. skiers are competing this week at alpine World Cup Finals. Six will race Thursday in downhill.

Outdoor Life Network will broadcast coverage each night; Thursday's report begins at 8 p.m. EST.

The group includes three men and six U.S. women. The men: Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) and Erik Schlopy(Park City, UT); the women: Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME), Megan Gerety (Anchorage, AK), Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN), Caroline Lalive(Steamboat Springs, CO), Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA) and Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO).

In addition, downhiller Alison Powers (Winter Park, CO) and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) qualified for Finals, but are sidelined by injuries.

The racing schedule was revised because of a snowstorm that forced cancellation of men's downhill training Tuesday. The new schedule:

Thursday: men's and women's downhill
Friday: men's and women's super G
Saturday: men's GS and women's slalom
Sunday: men's SL and women's giant slalom

Women's Coach Marjan Cernigoj said Clark, who won the last World Cup downhill Feb. 24 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, will be joined by Gerety,Mendes and Lalive in the downhill while Rahlves and Fleischer will race for the men. Clark and Rahlves are the lone super G skiers. On theweekend, Koznick and Schleper will race in the slalom; if Koznick has a top-3 finish that would put her over the 400-point plateau, she'll race inthe GS. Schlopy will run both GS and slalom.

"It's a short downhill, a sprint downhill - about 1:16,1:17 for the women, 1:27 on the men's course," Cernigoj said. "They may run a little fasterbecause we had rain Tuesday followed by some snow, then it got warm, then cooled off. The forecast for Thursday is overcast, so the light willbe tough...but we're ready. The girls are anxious to race again."

Men's Coach Bill Egan agreed with Cernigoj, noting, "They're short downhills, but that's okay for World Cup Finals. It's been a long year." Themen's DH will feature a duel between Austrian teammates Stephan Eberharter and Herman Maier for the downhill title; Eberharter leads by sixpoints going into Thursday's race.

World Cup Finals is restricted to the top 25 skiers in each event with no exceptions; though, even though Powers finished 25th in downhilldespite missing the last two months of the season with a knee injury, Olympic champion Picabo Street (Park City, UT), who was 26th in DH,was not permitted to take Powers' spot. Koznick is 26th in GS points.

After the weekend, the skiers will return for the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championships, which open March 23 at Big Mountain, Mont.