SUN VALLEY, Idaho – U.S. Development Team member Galena Wardle of Aspen, Colo., managed to claim her maiden national title on Wednesday, taking the women’s alpine combined with a total time of 2:04.44 seconds. Finishing in second was veteran American independent racer Megan McJames, a razor-slim 0.02 seconds behind as fellow D-teamer Patricia Mangan squeaked into third, 0.38 seconds off of Wardle’s pace.
In much the same way as the men’s race the day before, Sun Valley’s Greyhawk venue proved a formidable challenge for the women in the morning’s super G run as only 27 of the 43 starters managed to finish the super G portion.
World Cup veteran Laurenne Ross had set the time to beat in the super G by 1.66 seconds over Wardle, who sat in eighth. As the afternoon sun beat down on Sun Valley, the stage was set for a battle of wills as yesterday’s men’s race proved just how important a strong slalom showing would be to name the final podium.
After the lead changed hands numerous times as the flip-27 progressed, Wardle took to the course and knew she would have to do something special if she was to make up the advantage Ross had after the super G. Smooth and precise on the warm and peeling snow, Wardle danced down the slalom and crossed the finish with an impressive advantage and then began the nervous waiting game as the rest of the field took to the course.
As racer upon racer failed to match Wardle’s pace, only Ross stood between the Aspen native and her maiden national title. Ross, hot off an impressive finish to her World Cup season, looked to have the victory sealed as she approached the finish showing an advantage of over a second at the final intermediate. But then disaster struck as she found herself on her hip mere feet from the finish line as the title slipped away and into Wardle’s hands.
“I was a little nervous, but I knew that if I gave it all I had and skied solidly that I could make up that time,” Wardle said in the finish. “So, I went for it.”
Wardle also claimed fastest junior honors as a U19, indicating that big things may be on the horizon for the youngster.
McJames also sat over a second behind Ross after the super G, but was confident in her slalom abilities and knew she was more than capable of making up her first run deficit.
“I feel like in slalom I’ve been feeling more comfortable, but it was also turny,” McJames explained. “The goal was just to stay ahead of the course the whole way down and the girls who did that were fast today.”
Mangan also managed to grab her first nationals podium appearance and was delighted to find herself among the fastest women in the country.
“It’s very cool, very cool,” Mangan said. “The super G was tough so it was good to make it down and then the slalom was pretty soft, so, also happy to make it down that but it’s pretty awesome, I’m psyched!”
Racing action continues in Sun Valley on Thursday with men’s and women’s super G.
See more photos from today’s race in the gallery here.
|6||2||6536179||TALBOT Nellie Rose||1999||USA||1:18.23||47.56||2:05.79||+1.35|
|7||14||6535773||O BRIEN Nina||1997||USA||1:20.71||45.42||2:06.13||+1.69|
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