Ford, Schleper Win Slalom Titles
Call it a belated birthday present – after turning 21 on Saturday, 2010 Olympian Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) took his first U.S. title with the slalom win at the 2010 Visa U.S. Alpine Championships at Whiteface on Sunday. Ford was joined in the winner’s circle by fellow Olympian Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), who marked her fourth U.S. slalom title and her first U.S. crown since ’05.
“I was just letting it go, and that’s what I’ve been doing in the last few weeks of slalom and it’s really improved. I kept it up through the race and I’m happy with it,” Ford said. “It’s the best I’ve done in slalom in a while.”
Following Ford in the men’s race was Dave Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) in second and Nolan Kasper (Warren, VT) in third.
According to the new champion, his northwest roots gave him the advantage on somewhat tricky snow conditions on the slalom course Sunday.
“The conditions definitely favored me because everyone here is used to injection and clean courses on their World Cups and I’m used to running ruts. I’ve been running them my whole life and I actually kind of like skiing them sometimes,” Ford said. “The first run was tough with random rhythm and the second run was a lot more rhythm based down the fall line.”
Now, with the added confidence in his court, Ford says with some ore training he could be poised to keep the momentum up through the 2011 season.
“I turned it on at the end of the year. That’s what I’ve been doing the last few years. If I get some more training, I’ll be in there for the whole season. I felt strong all the way through even though I was tired,” Ford said.
For Schleper, the final races of the year at Whiteface were a sweet reward for hard work, as well as a great fun.
“This title is really the icing on a hard two years. It was a lot of fun, I love my teammates and I loved being here,” Schleper said.
After having a child two years ago, coming back to professional racing had been difficult for Schleper, but the past season put her right where she wanted to be.
“This whole thing started two years ago when I had my son Lasse. It was a big obstacle and my first year back was really tough because I didn’t have results like I had when I left skiing. That was really tough on me emotionally and psychologically. But I stayed persistent, kept fighting and kept training,” Schleper said. “I was happy with the results I did score. That got me my spot in the Olympics and that was the goal.
“I was pleased with how I skied, I thought I skied passionately and with a lot of heart and showed how much I loved skiing.”
In the women’s field second went to Canadian Erin Mielinski and third was Hailey Duke (Boise, ID), to mark her third slalom podium at the U.S. Championships after a third in ’07 and second in ’08.
Sunday’s race also determined U.S. combined titles, which went to Ford for the men and Megan McJames (Park City, UT) for women.
Julia Ford (Plymouth, NH) took the honor of top junior racers in both the slalom and combined races. Colby Granstrom (Lake Stevens, WA) took the men’s junior title for slalom and Jared Goldberg (Salt Lake City) earned the combined honor.
After the slalom and combined races, the West leads the Tom Garner Regions Cup with 2,363 points, followed in second by the East with 1,408, and in third the Rocky/Central with 777.
Racing in Lake Placid continues on Monday with the men’s giant slalom.
2010 Visa U.S. Alpine Championships
Lake Placid, NY – March 21, 2010
1. Tommy Ford, Bend, OR, 2:02.17
2. David Chodunsky, Crested Butte, CO, 2:02.94
3. Nolan Kasper, Warren, VT, 2:03.35
4. Leif Hauggen, Norway, 2:03.94
5. Chris Frank, Windham, NY, 2:04.94
1. Sarah Schleper, Vail, CO, 2:03.67
2. Erin Mielzynski, Canada, 2:03.80
3. Hailey Duke, Boise, ID, 2:04.85
4. Megan McJames, Park City, UT, 2:04.92
5. Malin Hemmingsson, Sweden, 2:04.97
For more on this story, please visit TeamUSA.org