Swede Takes Final Nature Valley Alpine Cup Women's Slalom


Georgetown, Colo. Nov. 18, 2001 (USSA)--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.