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Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec: Kristen Mielke wins first NorAm GS in sketchy conditions

Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec: Kristen Mielke wins first NorAm GS in sketchy conditionsAmerican Kristen Mielke took a break from the World Cup circuit and survived brutal conditions on Tuesday to win the opening GS of the CIBC Coupe NorAm series at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec, Canada.

Eight to 12 inches of snow blanketed Mont-Sainte-Anne on Monday night, which made for unreliable conditions and forced incessant delays throughout the day. ‘We got the first run off ok’ said U.S. Ski Team coach John Hale, ‘but the second-run continued to get worse and worse, and the organizers had to call [the race] after 40 women.’

The afternoon was particularly frustrating for a handful of U.S. Ski Team athletes, several of whom were in position to sweep the podium at the conclusion of the first run. Caitlin Ciccone, Kara Crow and Megan McJames were three of the morning’s four fastest skiers, and NCAA champion Megan Hughes was in sixth place, not far behind.

None of these ladies made it to the second-run finish line. In fact, seven of the first-run’s top-10 athletes did not finish, and at the end of the day, only 23 racers remained standing.

U.S. Ski Teamer Kara Crow took a bad crash and will not race Wednesday’s GS, but it does not appear that she sustained any long-term injuries.

‘We’re obviously psyched that Kara is ok’ said Hale, ‘and we’re actually really happy with the way the girls are skiing, as evidenced by the first-run results; but we also know that we need to put two runs together, so we’re hoping the conditions are better [Wednesday].’

A couple of Canadian youngsters took full advantage of the field’s massive attrition, making the statement that they’re ready for the ’06 World Junior Championships, which will be hosted at Mont-Sainte-Anne in March. Marie-Pier Prefontaine, who turned 18 on Jan. 1, celebrated her recent birthday as the fastest junior, finishing second overall; Alberta’s Kelly McBroom, 17, was the next-fastest junior and placed fifth overall.

The win at Mont-Sainte-Anne punctuates the success Mielke, 23, has experienced on the NorAm tour, but the GS specialist from Silverthorne, Colorado, is still looking to crack into the World Cup GS points. Mielke narrowly missed making the second points run in the Aspen GS, Dec. 10. She did not qualify in the Soelden, Austria, or Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, World Cup GS races.

CIBC Coupe NorAm: GS, Jan. 3, 2006
1. MIELKE Kristen, USA, 2.19.36
2. PRÉFONTAINE Marie-Pier, CAN, 2.19.78
3. NJIEM Chirine, LBN. 2.20.15
4. HITCHCOCK Katharine, USA, 2.20.60
5. MCBROOM Kelly, CAN, 2.20.66
6. MCDONALD Jyline, USA, 2.20.77
7. LITTMAN Julia, USA, 2.21.15
8. LATHROP Jenni T, USA, 2.21.55
9. LUSTENBERGER Christina, CAN, 2.21.74
10. GAGNON Marie-Michèle, CAN, 2.22.21

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