US ALPINE CHAMPIONSHIPS AT WINTER PARK
by Paul Maraschiello

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I arrived at Winter Park just in time to see Julia Mancuso claim her third consecutive U.S. Giant Slalom title. Mancuso turned in the fastest run of the day (1:08.82) on her second run to overtake Sarah Schleper who finished in second place. Downhiller Stacey Cook finish third, only 1.94 seconds behind Mancuso. This win was Mancuso's third straight national GS title and the 12th national title in her career. The day was highlighted by stars of the US Alpine Team signing autograph for the fans after the race at the Opening Ceremonies.

The day before, Tommy Ford successfully defended his 2010 title, teammate Tim Jitloff was second and World Cup GS champion Ted Ligety placed third.

The next day saw men's and women's Super G races where once again, Julia Mancuso and Tommy Ford both secured the top spot on the podium. Julia finished the course in one minute, 13.34 seconds. Leanne Smith was second, only two-tenths of a second behind her. Stacey Cook came in third. This was Cook's second bronze medal at this event.

Ford was the first racer and he nailed the gold medal in the Super G. This was his fifth national title in 12 months. Tommy Biesemeyer, was second in his World Cup debut this season. Ryan Cochran-Siegle placed third.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day. The snow was great and conditions were perfect.

Colby Granstrom and Mikaela Shiffrin took home the slalom titles. They ended the Nationals sweep by Tommy Ford and Julia Mancuso. Ford finished second behind Granstrom with Seppi Stiegler finishing third. And they did it in a blizzard. I was having a cup of hot chocolate with some of the US Ski Team on the top of the mountain and when I looked out the window, I could not even see the ski lift! It was a "white out" that dumped 4 inched of fresh snow on the hill.

For the women, it was Mikaela Shiffrin who led all day. Sarah Schleper was second and Resi Stiegler finished in third place and took home a bronze medal just like her brother Seppi.



THE MOUNTAIN
It had been a couple of years since I had visited Winter Park and I was very interested in seeing all that was new. The last time I was there, they were doing a lot of building. All the construction projects were now completed and the village is compact with all the restaurants and shops.



Because I was covering a major ski event, I didn't get a chance to really explore the resort as I usually do. I was only there for a couple of days and you would need at least a week to really check out all the Winter Park has to offer. I took a few runs under the Hughes Zephyr Express quad chair lift. Cranmer was one of my favorite runs because it led to a series of trails that took me to the bottom of the race venues. I did manage to take a ride on Prospector's Express and ski a few of the trails serviced by the Olympia Express quad. I'm sorry to say that I didn't get a chance to ski over to Mary Jane on this trip where there some advanced blue/blacks and blue trails like Edelweiss that are just my speed.

The Winter Park Resort consists of four adjacent areas: Winter Park, Mary Jane, (including Parsenn Bowl), Vasquez Cirque, and Vasquez Ridge with a network of trails and chairlifts that connects the four mountains. Winter Park has a vertical drop of 1,700 ft., Mary Jane's vertical is 2.610 ft., Vasquez Ridge's is 1,214 and Vasquez Cirque's is 1.500 ft.

Total skiable acreage is 3,078 acres which includes 143 designated trails and 1,332 acres of off-piste terrain.

Terrain


7% is Beginner (green) with most of it on Winter Park Mt., 16% is Intermediate (blue), 19 % is Advanced (blue-black), 52.9% is Most Difficult (black), and 3.2 % is Expert (double black)

Lifts
The resort has 25 lifts, including the new Village Cabriolet, two high-speed six-pack lifts (the newest is the Panoramic Express, North America's highest high-speed six-person chairlift), seven high-speed express quads, four triples, six double chairlifts, three surface lifts, one platter, and one rope tow, for an uphill capacity of approximately 38,370 passengers per hour.



Accommodations
I had a nice studio condo with bath in the new Founders Pointe complex. It had parking under the building and was just across the street from the village complex and only a short walk to the lifts. With all the amenities located in the village, I had an enjoyable dinner at the Cheeky Monk after happy hour drinks at Lime. Founders Pointe as well as Fraser Crossing are comprised of studios, one, two and three bedroom condos and feature such amenities as access to an outdoor spa, fireplace, and BBQ, not to mention private underground parking, storage lockers, and high-speed internet. Rooms rates for a studio condo: Winter $168 (midweek) $218 (weekend), and Holiday $378 with rates as low as $32 per person in the summer. For more information, visit http://www.winterparkresort.com or call (866) 260-6302 for a reservation. Don't forget to mention that you found about then on the Ski Bum News website.

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