Laurenne Ross, shown here racing GS Thursday, captured the first U.S. Championships gold medal of her career with super G victory at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw Valley. (Mark Eptstein/USSA)
SQUAW VALLEY, CA (March 22) - Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) captured the first U.S. title of her career with a mere .01 second super G victory over Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) Friday at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley. The incredibly tight race saw favorite and defending champion Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) land third, .08 seconds behind Ross. Thousands were on hand as California sun continued to produce perfect spring race conditions at the home of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games. The race, along with a highlight package from the Championships, will air March 24 at noon ET on NBC.
Laurenne Ross (Bend, OR) ripped to the first U.S. title of her career with a gold medal super G performance at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships.
Ross recently capped the best Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season of her career with a second place World Cup podium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany just prior to the World Cup Finals.
The victory was by the narrowest margin possible, a mere .01 over Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA) and .08 in front of race favorite Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), who skied on borrowed equipment when her skis didn't make it to Squaw from World Cup Finals.
Mancuso won the U.S. super G title in 2011 and 2012 and had upped her own U.S. title (male and female) record to 16 in Thursday's giant slalom.
Mancuso narrowly missed winning the season-long World Cup super G title when the final race of the season was canceled, handing the title to Tina Maze of Slovenia.
Top junior honors went to Abby Ghent (Edwards, CO) followed by Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN) and Lauren Samuels (Golden Valley, MN).
The challenging super G course starts in the shadow of the fabled KT22 and going down Julia's Gold, named after Mancuso. It was a bumpy course with a tricky jump toward the finish.
The race served as the first half of the combined title, pairing the fastest times from super G and slalom.
NBC will broadcast the race and a highlight package from the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships at noon ET on March 24.
QUOTES Laurenne Ross Everybody always goes out there with the goal of getting on the top of the podium, but usually it's Julia. It's nice to beat her every once in a while because it doesn't happen very often and when it does, it's really exciting.
This was the toughest U.S. Championships super G course I've ever ran. There are a couple really technical sections. It never lets up, you always have to be on your toes and look ahead. I actually thought it was a lot of fun.
It's so cool to have all these people out here watching. I love hanging out with the young racers and having them come to the U.S. Championships is really cool. It's a big deal - even for us as World Cup athletes, it's cool. We all want to be the national champion.
Stacey Cook It wasn’t a feel good run at all, but it’s the time that matters in the finish. It’s not necessarily how you look on the way down, it’s how fast you can get here.
For the World Cup, that’s a small jump. What’s tricky about it is the direction, trying to get the right direction off of it. It’s completely blind. You can’t see anything past it and you’re aiming for a three-foot section of the course. (laughs) So that’s what’s hard about that.
I think you could have made one-hundredth up in a lot of places. That’s about as tight as it gets, maybe a few inches. But Laurenne has been so good all year, and also Julia. Anyone that beats Julia in super G right now is capable of a podium because she was there all year. So that’s pretty special. I’m very happy to be with my teammates. I don’t necessarily need to be on top.
Julia Mancuso There’s some difficult turns on top and it’s still bumpy from the new snow we got, but it was still a lot of fun. I wanted to make it to the finish and win, but our World Cup team is super tough, so it isn't a surprise that Laurenne and Stacey were faster.
Well I didn’t really have a gameplan. It’s not what I’m used to so my timing was off the whole way down. It was a little intimidating going over the road, so I could have skied better.
You have to always have a good run. Super G can be a little intimidating when you’re not ready and my skis didn’t make it. They went on a little trip around California so I borrowed someone else’s. So that’s always tough too. I brought my GS skis and my coach brought my super G skis and they didn’t make it. Thanks to Chelsea Marshall for letting me borrow a pair of hers.