Alpine

Maple and Johnson Take National Downhill Titles

by
Courtney Harkins
2016-03-14 16:20
 

ASPEN, CO (March 14, 2016) – The first event of the U.S. Alpine Championships kicked off Sunday in Aspen, CO where hometown favorite Wiley Maple (Aspen, CO, U.S. Ski Team/ Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club) defended his national title successfully, winning the downhill. Breezy Johnson (Victor, ID, U.S. Ski Team/Rowmark Ski Academy) took home the title for the women.

While the rest of the U.S. Alpine Champs take place in Sun Valley, ID next week, the downhill is held in conjunction with the NorAm Finals. This year, the venue was Aspen, where the World Cup Finals will be held in 2017. The race was moved up by a day to avoid forecasted heavy snowfall.

“It feels pretty good to win at home,” said Maple. “I was probably the favorite coming in and it was cool to perform under pressure and win in front of the home crowd defending my title. It was a super fun track that I think everyone enjoyed.”

Maple squeaked out a win over Canadian Jeffrey Frisch by only .05 seconds, grabbing his second title in two years. Erik Arvidsson (Woodside, CA, U.S. Ski Team/Squaw Valley Ski Team), who recently won the World Juniors downhill title, was third.

“Going into World Juniors I had a lot of confidence in speed events and felt really comfortable on my skis. Obviously the win there was an incredible result,” said Arvidsson. “Then to come back home and cap of the season in downhill a third place against a really tight field and moving all the way up into second in the NorAm standings and grabbing a personal World Cup spot for next year was definitely an incredible day and an incredible feat for me.”

Rounding out the American men in the top 20, Drew Duffy (Warren, VT, U.S. Ski Team/Green Mountain Valley School) was fifth, Sam Morse (Carrabassett Valley, ME, U.S. Ski Team/Carrabassett Valley Academy) 10th, Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA, U.S. Ski Team/Squaw Valley Ski Team) 11th, Keith Moffat (Berkeley, CA, Squaw Valley Ski Team) 12th, Sam DuPratt (Dixon, CA, U.S. Ski Team/Park City Ski Team) 17th, Tommy Ford (Bend, OR, U.S. Ski Team/Mt. Bachelor Ski Education Foundation) 18th, Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, VT, U.S. Ski Team/Cochran’s/Mount Mansfield Ski & Snowboard Club) 19th and Bronson Wright (Cottonwood Heights, UT, Snowbird Sports Education Foundation) 20th.


Breezy Johnson won the downhill national title for the first time. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)

Johnson, who was third in the 2015 U.S. Alpine Champs downhill, crushed her competition, winning by over a second. Along with her national title, Johnson also won the NorAm downhill title and a World Cup quota spot for downhill next season.

Behind Johnson, Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR, U.S. Ski Team/Pacific Northwest Ski Association/White Pass Ski Club) also stood on the podium, taking second place, tying with Canadian Valerie Grenier.

"I am pretty stoked right now," said Johnson, "Valerie (Grenier) and I went back and forth in the downhill standings all year. She was 10 points in front of me after the first race and then I was 10 points ahead of her after the second. When she took the lead on our first downhill day in Aspen, I was thinking 'this could be okay if we follow this pattern, then I will win the title.' The pattern held and when I came down with the lead I knew that I had taken the title and that was pretty awesome."

Nine American women finished in the top 10. Cecily Decker (Saranac Lake, NY, Eastern Regional Team/New York Ski Education Foundation) was fourth, Alice Merryweather (Hingham, MA, U.S. Ski Team/Attitash Race Team) fifth, Abby Ghent (Edwards, CO, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) sixth, Anna Marno (Centennial, WY, U.S. Ski Team/Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club) seventh, Nina O’Brien (San Francisco, CA, U.S. Ski Team/Burke Mountain Academy/Squaw Valley Ski Team) eighth, Patricia Mangan (Buffalo, NY, U.S. Ski Team/Holimont Race Team) ninth and Galena Wardle (Aspen, CO, U.S. Ski Team/Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club) 10th.

The rest of the U.S. Alpine Championships events, including super G, alpine combined, giant slalom, slalom and a team event, begin at Sun Valley on March 22.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Wiley Maple defended his downhill national title successfully, winning on his home hill.
  • Breezy Johnson won the women’s downhill national title. She also won the NorAm downhill title and a World Cup quote spot for downhill next season.
  • It was the first event of the U.S. Alpine Championships, held in conjunction with the NorAm Finals at Aspen.
  • U.S. Alpine Championships events continue at Sun Valley on March 22.

QUOTES
Wiley Maple

It feels pretty good to win at home. I was probably the favorite coming in and it was cool to perform under pressure and win in front of the home crowd defending my title. It was a super fun track that I think everyone enjoyed.

Erik Arvidsson
Going into World Juniors I had a lot of confidence in speed events and felt really comfortable on my skis. Obviously the win there was an incredible result. Then to come back home and to cap of the season in downhill with two third places against a really tight field and moving all the way up into second in the NorAm standings and grabbing a personal World Cup spot for next year was definitely an incredible day and an incredible feat for me. Grabbing a World Cup spot is definitely something you dream about as a kid and knowing that next year I’m going to make my debut is really exciting.

Breezy Johnson
I am pretty stoked right now. Valerie (Grenier) and I went back and forth in the downhill standings all year. She was 10 points in front of me after the first race and then I was 10 points ahead of her after the second. When she took the lead on our first downhill day in Aspen, I was thinking 'this could be okay if we follow this pattern, then I will win the title.' The pattern held and when I came down with the lead I knew that I had taken the title and that was pretty awesome. I didn't honestly think my run was that good and after Jackie's (Wiles) time the day before I didn't think it would hold but it did and I am really grateful for that. Jackie had been really fast this year and to beat her on any day is very cool.

I have only raced here once before but I always like to run more difficult downhill courses especially since the NorAms have been on easier hills these past few years and it is really nice to come back to Aspen and learn on this awesome speed track. I think tracks like Aspen help the North Americans prepare for World Cup in ways that we really need to and I hope they keep running here in the future. I hope they even try to run it next year.
 

RESULTS
Men’s downhill
Women’s downhill