Jackson Hole, WY Mar. 24--Daron Rahlves (Truckee, CA) andKristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN) - fresh off World Cup victories sinceMarch 1 - and a dozen or so Olympic or World Championships medalists,including adopted hometown hero Tommy Moe, will help energize thefestivities March 24-29 as the Chevy Truck U.S. Alpine Championshipsreturn to Jackson Hole and Snow King ski areas.
For the first time, the Chevy Truck Return of the Champions - whichnormally coincides with the final preseason alpine training camps eachNovember in Beaver Creek, Colo. - will be held during the title races.With the 2001 World Championships in St. Anton, Austria, the sixthedition of the "Return" will honor two U.S. teams which competed inchampionships in Austria, the 1958 team from Badgastein and the 1982team from Schladming and Haus, including GS gold medalist Steve Mahre.
The national downhill, super G, giant slalom, slalom and combinedtitles will be decided in races scheduled to start March 24. Theschedule:
March 24 (Friday) - men's and women's downhill at Jackson Hole Resort
March 25 (Saturday) - men's super G and Return of the Champions funrace at Jackson Hole Resort
March 26 (Sunday) - women's super G at Jackson Hole Resort
March 27 (Monday) - men's giant slalom at Jackson Hole Resort
March 28 (Tuesday) - women's giant slalom at Jackson Hole Resort
March 29 (Wednesday) - men's and women's slalom at Snow King More than 150 racers from around the nation will be competing for aU.S. title, but they'll also be looking to measure themselves againstWorld Cup racers from the U.S. Ski Team. "This is a terrific opportunity," said U.S. Ski Team VP-Athletics AlanAshley, "to see what it takes to be on the World Cup and to see wherethey stand. We've got World Championships again next season and it'sunder 700 days before the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, so there's a lot of interest in making certain everyone is doing his or her best. The Chevy Truck championships also give national team coaches a chance to see how some of the development-level skiers are coming along." Rahlves comes to town after back-to-back World Cup downhill victories on the 1994 Olympic speed run in Kvitfjell, north of Lillehammer, which was immortalized when Moe - wearing bib No. 8 - won the men's downhill on the first day of '94 Olympic competitions. Four days later, on his 24th birthday, Moe won the silver medal in super G on the same hill in Kvitfjell. After that golden season, Moe moved to Jackson Hole and he has been the resort's ambassador ever since. A week after Rahlves won his first downhill, Koznick collected the third World Cup slalom triumph of her career, winning in softening snow at Sestriere, Italy. She also added giant slalom on the World Cup this winter for the first time, so the former junior GS champion will be looking to add a national gold medal to her junior GS titles. Koznickwon the J3 giant slalom titles in 1988 and '90 at Vail, Colo., andcaptured the J2 GS crown at Mount Sunapee, N.H., several days before she made her World Cup debut at Waterville Valley, N.Y., during World Cup Finals in 1991. The Return of the Champions program is designed to remind those, who may have forgotten or those who may not have known, that U.S. skiers were winning races, titles and Olympic medals before Moe's heroics in '94 in Norway.In addition to the special guests from the 1958 and '82 WorldChampionships, the program brings back Olympics and World Championshipsmedal-winners. Included again in this year's roster, along with Moe, theonly U.S. man to win two ski medals at the same Olympics: Andrea MeadLawrence, double-gold champion from the 1952 Olympics; 1984 Olympic SLgold medalist and '80 SL silver medalist (and three-time World Cupoverall champion) Phil Mahre; 1984 Olympic GS gold medalist DebbieArmstrong; 1997 World Championships downhill gold medalist Hilary Lindh;'60 double-silver medalist Penny Pitou (a member of the 1958 Worldstteam); 1970 Worlds combined champion and '64 Olympic SL silver medalistBilly Kidd; Cindy Nelson, multi-medalist and the first four-time Olympicskier; and, among others, Jean Saubert, double-bronze medalist from the1964 Olympics. "I'm really excited again this year, but I always am," said MarilynCochran Brown, the first U.S. skier to win a World Cup title when shetook the women's giant slalom crown during the 1969 season. "The Returnof the Champions is so much fun, so enjoyable. It's nice to see oldteammates, some of America's greatest, and to see the current team,too." Said Linda Meyers Tikalsky, a '58 Championships racer (who at 20 wasmaking her first trip overseas from her home in Bishop, Calif. and whowent on to two Olympics and six U.S. titles), "Some of us haven't seeneach other in over 40 years. This should be so great, such a fun time."