Alice Merryweather (Hingham, Mass) skied to her first U.S. downhill title, and Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, Vt.) added his second downhill title, and fifth-career U.S. title Tuesday on the first day of racing at the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.
Following a double-downhill training day Monday on Sugarloaf’s Narrow Gauge course, Tuesday was another double-downhill day with the first run counting as a NorAm Cup, and the second also counting as a NorAm Cup, in addition to being scored as the U.S. Alpine Championship race. Both Merryweather and Cochran-Siegle finished third in the first race and stepped it up for the one that counted for the U.S. title in the second.
“I just gave it a little more edge to cut through the ice...and tried to try to clean up a couple of sections that I didn’t ski as well as I wanted (in the first run),” Cochran-Siegle said of his championship run. “The biggest difference was...I stuck to my line that I wanted, carried more speed on the flats, and was able to hold off coming through the finish.”
Although referring to the course’s hard-packed condition as “ice,” Cochran-Siegle chuckled when his terminology was corrected to “New England packed powder!”
“It’s all East Coast, so we all get the same variable snow,” he said, referring to his family's’ home hill, Cochran’s Ski Area in Vermont where he grew up skiing. But in all seriousness, he had nothing but praise for the course conditions at Sugarloaf.
“This is honestly such an amazing surface to be racing on,” he said. “For a lot of racers, they look forward to being on a surface like this because it’s fair and it holds up. And I was so happy to come here and see just how well the hill has been prepped, it makes it a lot more enjoyable for racers like us to come here.”
Merryweather took a similar approach to the second race as Cochran-Siegle but cranked up the speed a few notches.
“I just sent it a little bit more,” she said of her second race. “I dialed in a some of the things I messed up in the first race and then I just tightened the screws.
‘It was an improvement over the first run,” she added. “It still wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot of fun. The snow here is amazing. It’s just really fun to be back here at Sugarloaf!”
Sugarloaf holds a special place for Merryweather, who grew up just a few hours south in Massachusetts, and she is glad to be close to home following a long World Cup season.
“It’s really, really fun,” she said. “It’s nice to race, not necessarily with less pressure, but different pressure. And especially to come back to a place where I raced my first downhill ever, it’s really special.”
Merryweather’s U.S. Ski Team teammates Keely Cashman (Strawberry, Calif.) and AJ Hurt (Squaw Valley, Calif.) rounded out the podium in second and third respectively. Cashman was also the top junior.
Rounding out the podium in the men’s race, Tommy Biesemeyer (Keene, N.Y.) was second, and Jared Goldberg (Holladay, Utah) was third. Kyle Negomir, who finished sixth in the downhill at the 2019 FIS Junior Alpine World Championship last month, capped off his outstanding season finishing fourth Tuesday and was the top junior finisher. Negomir also leads the overall NorAm Cup standings with four events remaining.
Up next, another double-race day with super-G on the schedule Wednesday at Sugarloaf. Both races will count as NorAm Cup events, with the second race of the day also counting as the U.S. Alpine Championships. Thursday’s schedule includes alpine combined before the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships head south to New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Resort for slalom, parallel slalom, and giant slalom events Saturday through Tuesday (March 23-26).
Men’s U.S. Alpine Championships downhill
Women’s U.S. Alpine Championships downhill
Men’s NorAm Cup downhill
Women’s NorAm Cup downhill
March 20 Super-G (National Championships) - Sugarloaf, Maine
March 21 Alpine Combined (National Championships) - Sugarloaf, Maine
March 23 Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 24 Parallel Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 25 Women’s Giant Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.
March 26 Men’s Giant Slalom (National Championships) - Waterville Valley Resort, N.H.