Julia Mancuso ripped to a record 16th U.S. title with giant slalom victory at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw Valley (Mark Epstein/USSA)
SQUAW VALLEY, CA (March 21) - Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) took full advantage of home snow to win the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships giant slalom for a record 16th U.S. title. The Olympic gold medalist from Squaw Valley finished .88 in front of a red-hot Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO), 18, who had just locked the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom title in Switzerland. The race opened the four-day culmination of the alpine ski racing year with over 500 young athletes from across the country converging at the 1960 Olympic mountain to hunt for U.S. titles.
Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) mastered her home race hill to win a record (male and female) 16th Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships title.
World Champion and Audi FIS Alpine World Cup slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) was second by .88 and was also the top junior racer.
2013 NorAm overall champion Megan McJames (Park City, UT) finished third to round out the women's podium.
U.S. downhill champion Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR) was sixth and Foreste Peterson (Berkeley, CA) seventh to finish 2-3 among junior women.
The race was shortened from the planned start due to inconsistent snow after heavy snowfall on Wednesday.
A packed crowd was on site for the opening race under Squaw Valley's bluebird skies.
The Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships continue Friday with men's and women's super G.
NBC will broadcast a Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships special program on March 24 at noon ET.
QUOTES Julia Mancuso It’s very fun to be at my home mountain and, of course, I want to win here. I think that’s the cool thing about records even if it’s something like U.S. Championships; when you are kind of pushing for something or extending a record. It makes it that much more fun.
It’s really cool. I’ve seen a lot of people I know and all my friends come out to cheer me on. And all the kids, it’s really really fun. It’s even a school day so they're probably happy they got to miss school.
I knew that it (the short course) was going to be hard and Mikaela ia skiing really great GS through this year, so I just went for it. I was a little conservative on the bottom here, just because it’s still really icy.
Mikaela Shiffrin It’s another race. It’s another training day. It’s awesome to be here. It’s beautiful today and hopefully this weather keeps up. I love U.S. Championships, it’s such a fun event and there’s so much healthy competition. So I’ll be going for it.
It’s hard to sum up the year like that. I had a pretty good debut into World Cup. I love to train and I love to improve and I try not to lose sight of the fact that I can’t just become complacent. So I’m just trying to ski my fastest and break barriers every day.
Megan McJames This year’s been tough. I’m not on the U.S. Ski Team, so we’ve been figuring it out as we go along and it’s been pretty rewarding, pretty fun. Just a new challenge, but it’s exciting. I love ski racing so that’s why I’m still out here.
They did an amazing job. It rained all day yesterday and the snow is still awesome. Today was definitely a sprint, but that’s been good for me because I’ve been racing so many days in the last week. It was just ‘punch it as hard as you can’ and that’s ski racing at its finest.