Independent American Mielke still looking for first World Cup pointsWhat happens to a dream deferred? In the case of independent American giant slalom specialist Kristen Mielke, it picks up and goes to the Czech Republic for another shot at World Cup GS points.
Mielke, 23, finished the first run in 31st place, five-hundredths behind Canada’s Emily Brydon, in Saturday’s GS in Aspen, Colorado.
Brydon went on to lay down the fastest time in the second run and finished 13th, while Mielke watched from the stands with her family, friends and Igor, her Siberian husky.
“It’s disappointing,” she said. “But I know I’m really close.”
Mielke, who makes her home and trains in Silverthorne, Colorado, earned her spot in the Soelden and Aspen GS races by finishing second in the NorAm GS overall last season. She said her goal this season was to score World Cup points and earn a spot on the official U.S. team.
In only her second World Cup start, Mielke, a Quantum Sports Club product, laid down a blazing run – for an American, anyway – in the first run of Saturday’s GS to put her into 23rd place with 37 skiers left to race.
“I hope I’ll make it,” she said after the run, glancing up at the scoreboard anxiously. “I might squeeze in there. I’ll be close.”
It was close. Mielke’s time held up as American after American skied out or crossed the finish one, two or three seconds off the pace. But when the snow spray settled in the finish, Switzerland’s Fraenzi Aufdenblatten, skiing with the 60th bib, crossed the finish line in 24th, knocking Mielke to 31st and out of the points.
Mielke said she knew it would be tough to crack the top 30, but that she was encouraged with her skiing and knew where she could improve for the next race.
“I know where I made mistakes,” she said. “I made mistakes up top. But I think I know now that when I ski my best, I’ll be right in there with the rest of them.”
If not earning a second run in front of the home crowd was disappointing for Mielke, she didn’t show it. Maybe it’s because she’s battled her way to the World Cup after a near career-ending knee injury in the spring of 2001. Or maybe it’s because she’s been skiing her way through the NorAm circuit on her own dime. Or maybe it’s because she just loves he sport.
“From here I take the positives and get ready for the next race,” she said with a smile. “I’m going to Austria to train and then on to the Czech Republic for the races in Spindleruv Mlyn. I’m looking forward to it. I know I’m ready after this.”