Stiegler Caps Off 19-Year Career with National Title and Big Smile
For U.S. Ski Team alumna and three-time Olympian Resi Stiegler, Friday’s slalom victory at U.S. Alpine Championships at Aspen Highlands, Colo. was the cherry on top of a storied 19-year career. Team X Alpine and University of Utah’s Madi Hoffman was second, .30 seconds back, and Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team and University of Denver athlete Katie Hensien rounded out the podium in third.
After almost two weeks of sun-splashed days at Aspen Highlands, a late-season snowstorm dumped about eight inches of snow on the track for the final day of racing at the 2021 U.S. Alpine Championships. Organizers, athletes, and coaches descended upon the track early Friday morning to slip the excess snow down to a surface they could race on, then organizers poured water and salt on the track in an effort to salvage the surface. It wasn’t pretty, but the hard work paid off, and athletes and staff alike were stoked to pull off the final day of racing successfully with the slalom after a long season, challenged by COVID-19.
Hoffman, who was in 14th-place after the first run, 1.2 seconds out, took advantage of a solid start spot and put the foot on the gas to cruise to the fastest second run, .68 seconds ahead of Stiegler’s second-fastest second run. Hensien, who was sitting in 10th after the first run, skyrocketed to third place, with the third-fastest second run time, to claim her spot on the podium. Canada's Stefanie Fleckenstein was sitting in second after first run but did not finish the second run, and Klomhaus straddled just before the finish and was disqualified. Hoffman was the top junior on the day, followed by Canada’s Sarah Bennett in second, and Kiara “Kiki” Alexander in third.
When Stiegler realized she had won (her first national title since 2017 in Sugarloaf, ME), her current and former teammates and competitors Hoffman, Hensien, Allie Resnick, Emma Resnick, Tricia Mangan, AJ Hurt, and more, rushed to her to congratulate her and give her hugs. No one does a finish area celebration like Stiegler, and she will be remembered for her absolute pure love—which is unmatched and palpable even through a TV screen—for the sport of skiing.
Stiegler was overjoyed to cap her career with a victory on home soil. “It feels so good...this was the absolute best way to go out,” Stiegler beamed. To be honest, I kind of had to stay focused to the very end, because I’m a fighter and I’ve always wanted to win everything. I know in these days you want to celebrate everything and be ready to retire, but for me, I wanted to win so badly and go out with the fight I’ve always had and the best skiing I’ve always had.”
With her brother Seppi coaching her, and her best friend and U.S. Ski Team alumna Sarah Schleper there to cheer her on, Stiegler felt supported and loved for her final show, and was stoked for it to happen on home turf. “So I just had to stay super focused, and today I was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been, but I had my brother (Seppi) here on the hill and my best friend (Sarah Schleper) went up on the hill and got me fired up...so that always helps a little bit,” she giggled. “And obviously racing in Aspen again, it’s like our home hill, we race World Cups here, it’s close to Jackson, and it’s in the U.S. They put on a great show for the last race of the season for all of us.”
Resi Stiegler’s Career At-A-Glance
- World Cup Starts: 178
- World Cup Podiums: 1
- SL, 2nd, Ofterschwang, GER, 2012
- World Cup Top-Fives: 7
- World Cup Top-10s: 25
- World Championship Teams: 8 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
- Best result: sixth, SL, Santa Caterina, ITA, 2005
- 3x Olympian
- 4x National Champion
- 1 set of tiger ears that stood the test of time and the biggest heart and passion one could drum up
Stiegler rounded up all of the athletes for a little pep talk following her victory, in which she congratulated them for making it through what was such a challenging season for everyone due to the pandemic. Athletes clapped, cheered for her, and even shed some tears as Stiegler encouraged everyone to keep believing in themselves and thanked everyone for being there for her final last race…“as Resi Stiegler anyway,” she laughed. Of course, Stiegler will be marrying German fiance David Ketterer, so the comment was a nod to potentially racing with a new last name.
In the final Tom Garner Regions’ Cup results, Rocky/Central prevailed, with 2,045 points, followed by West with 1,713 points, and East with 1,384 points.
Friday’s slalom caps the two-week-long U.S. Alpine Championships series at Aspen Highlands, and the long 2020-21 season, which has felt like an eternity to many. U.S. Ski & Snowboard would like to thank Aspen on behalf of all of the athletes and coaches for working tirelessly to make the event a reality.
Until next year, cheers!
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