Breckenridge, CO, Dec. 13–Veteran mono-ski champion Sarah Will(Vail, CO) collected her third straight victory Friday while blind skierBobby McMullen (Redding, CA) and Mary Riddell (Dove Creek, CO) hung-uptheir fourth straight top-3 result, this time in giant slalom, as theinaugural official disabled World Cup races came to a close atBreckenridge Ski Area.
Coaches and athletes had high praise for the work Team Breck chief JohnLeffler and his staff and the crews from Breckenridge Ski Area instaging the first four races, the Chevy Truck Disabled World Cup. About80 athletes from a dozen nations competed in a pair of “sprint” (i.e.,two-run) downhills, necessitated because of the snow drought and mildtemperatures which limited snowmaking over the past six weeks.
“We’ve got nothing but the highest feelings for Breckenridge. This isthe third time we’ve had ‘World Cup’ races here, and the first timethey’re official because this is the first time FIS the InternationalSki Federation has officially sanctioned them, and Breck did its usualsuper job,” said U.S. Coach Ewald Zirbisegger as he led the kudos forlocal oreganizers.
On the final day, Will gave another clinic in how to deal withadversity, posting an adjusted time of 2:26.59 for the two runs of GS.That put her nearly four seconds ahead of Cecilia Paulsson of Sweden(2:30.39) with Jutta Nebauer of Germany third.
Will said she didn’t inspect the course before her final run because ofsome mixups “but that was okay because when I’ve done this before – andI have gone without an inspection before – it actually turns out prettygood because I have to keep looking ahead. Not knowing the courseforces me to look ahead and keep my focus. There was a good bump at thebottom I didn’t expect,” she grunted, “but things worked out okay.”
Will, who came to town battling a cold which she’s had for more than aweek, echoed a consistent theme from the U.S. skiers and coaches:there’s plenty training and technique work to accomplish before theWorld Championships, which begin late next month in Switzerland. “I’vegot a lot of work to do before the championships. I’ll take it easy andhave a quiet Christmas in Vail,” she said, “but I’ll be free-skiing andmaking some adjustments.”
In the men’s mono-ski class, Karl Lotz of Germany edged Jorgen Egle ofAustria by .01 with a winning time of 2:11.05. Chris Waddell (Park City,UT) was the top U.S. skier, finishing fifth (2:13.19).
“I think this week was a wake-up for some people on the U.S. team.There were a lot of surprises this week. We didn’t do as well as we’reaccustomed to doing; we’re not used to not winning or being on thepodium, although it’s good to see new faces on the podium,” Waddellsaid. “A lot of people are adjusting to new equipment and we’ve had someinjuries – losing Muffy Davis Sun Valley, ID – shoulder and thumb,Jennifer Kelchner Cazenovia, NY – possible broken thumb and JasonLalla Bradford, NH – bad crash in the first DH – and losing thosethree alone is a big loss; they’re winners … It’s obvious you can’trace on an intellectual level. It’s got to be instinctive. I need to getsome mileage on this new equipment and I know we’ll all be workingharder before we go to the World Championships.”
In the stand-up category, Canadian Ramona Hoh won in 2:24.14 and Riddell(third in the first DH, winner of the second DH and second in Thursday’sslalom) took third with a time of 2:25.31. Csilla Kristof, the SLwinner, was sixth with Sarah Billmeier (Yarmouth, ME) seventh and leeJoiner (Red Lodge, MT) 10th.
“I feel like I’m skiing better than I did last year but they’re beatingme. It’s frustrating,” Riddell – who won three unofficial World Cuptitles last season and never lost a GS – said, “because I hate losing.Still, it’s the first event of the year and I don’t want to be somentally strong that I’d be wiped out by the time the Worlds come along.I’ve got some things to work on, though. I mean, you can’t pull all yourtricks out of the bag yet, riight? I’ve worked a lot with mental strengthand I’m learning you’ve got to go with what happens.”
Gerd Schoenfelder of Germany edged Swiss skier Hans Burn – who won thetwo DHs – to win in 2:12.77. Burn was second in 2:13.11 while MonteMeier (Hastings, MN) was the best U.S. racer, finishing seventh(2:16.46). Greg Mannino (Vail, CO) was ninth and Daniel Kosick(Binghamton, NY) 10th.
Reflecting on the results, Zirbisegger echoed his athletes. “We came insaying we wanted to be ready for the World Championships and theathletes have already said it – we need more work. They done a good jobin the preparation with training camps, but we need to get a couple ofour people healthy again and we saw this week the rest of the disabledworld is closing-in on us faster than we thought,” he said. “I knowthese guys and these ladies and they’re the best, and they know they’vegot to pick it up. We’ve got about a month of hard work if we’re goingto show the Europeans and the Canadians and everyone we’re still thebest.”
As a footnote, Will said she pleased several disabled skiers who wereattending The Hartford’s annual Ski Spectacular for disabled skiers atBreckenridge entered some of the races “and got a chance to see what aWorld Cup is like. I think it will motivate some of them, inspire themabout where they could go with their skiing.”
With the Chevy Truck disabled races history, the next races for the U.S.team will be Jan. 4-6 for the annual Huntsman Cup races in Park City,Utah. The World Alpine Disabled Championships will be Jan. 24-Feb. 5 inAnzere, Switzerland.
CHEVY TRUCK DISABLED WORLD CUPBreckenridge, CO – Dec. 10Giant Slalom (adjusted times)Mono-skiersWomen1. Sarah Will, LW-11, Vail, Colo., 2:26.59
2. Cecilia Paulsson, LW-12, Sweden, 2:30.39
3. Jutta Neubauer, LW-10, Germany, 2:31.43
1. Karl Lotz, LW-11, Germany, 2:11.05
2. Jorgen Egle, LW-11, Austria, 2:11.06
3. Harald Eder, LW-11, Austria, 2:11.98
-5. Chris Waddell, LW-10, Park City, Utah, 2:13.19
12. Ken Lacome, LW-11, Taos, N.M., 2:34.59
14. Keith Pendill, LW-11, 2:44.68
15. Erik Bayindirli, LW-11, 2:46.62
-DNF-1: Joe Tompkins, LW-10, Juneau, Alaska
1. Ramona Hoh, LW-6/8, Canada, 2:24.14
2. Rachel Battersby, LW-6/8, New Zealand, 2:25.29
3. Mary Riddell, LW-4, Dove Creek, Colo., 2:25.31
-6. Csilla Kristof, LW-6/8, Las Vegas, 2:27.54
7. Sarah Billmeier, LW-2, Yarmouth, Maine, 2:27.91
10. Lee Joiner, LW-9, Red Lodge, Mont., 2:33.24
-Men1. Gerd Schoenfelder, LW-5/7, Germany, 2:12.77
2. Hans Burn, LW-4, Switzerland, 2:13.11
3. Romain Riboud, LW-9, France, 2:14.32
-7. Monte Meier, LW-2, Hastings, Minn., 2:16.46
9. Greg Mannino, LW-2, Vail, Colo., 2:16.86
10. Daniel Kosick, LW-2, Binghamton, N.Y., 2:17.06
18. Jake Rife, LW-3, Pocatello, Idaho, 2:21.95
19. Adam Fromma, LW-6/8, Winter Park, Colo., 2:22.34
22. Clay Fox, LW-4, Gillette, Wyo., 2:23.77
23. George Sansonetis, LW-9, Winter Park, Colo., 2:24.31
24. Matt Perkins, LW-2, Twin Falls, Idaho, 2:26.51
27. Charlie Quist, LW-9, 2:33.93
28. Scott Durham, LW-2, 2:36.01
DNF-2: Theresa Fancher, B-2, Omak, Wash. (only blind woman skier)
1. Chris Williamson, B-3,Canada, 2:05.39
2. Bobby McMullen, B-2, Redding, Calif., 2:14.56
3. Kurt Primus, B-2, Austria, 2:17.71