SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. — Travis Ganong must have felt like he was 14 again.
The Squaw Valley local who grew up tearing down the slopes of KT-22 laid down the fastest run of the day at his home mountain to reclaim his 2010 super G title at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships on Friday.
“It’s really nice to actually be home and on home snow, sleep in my own bed, and have all my family and the hometown crowd out supporting,” Ganong said. “I grew up training on this hill every day, so it’s really nice to get on a familiar hill. The hometown crowd really motivates me to push it harder and really go for it.”
Ganong wasn’t the only local skier to throw down on the Women’s Downhill course, located to the looker’s left of KT-22.
While NorAm overall and U.S. downhill champion Jared Goldberg slipped into second place, .20 seconds behind Ganong, Mark Engel from the Sugar Bowl Ski Team finished third and Squaw Valley skier Bryce Bennett was fourth overall and first among junior racers.
“I skied on the Sugar Bowl Ski Team from age 11 until I made the (U.S. Ski) Team at 19. They’re a great program for the little guys. They have great training, great coaches, really positive vibe. That helped, because I’ve skied this hill probably nine-ten times, and I’m more of a tech skier, so I was able to handle the turns,” Engel said. “Had a little mistake, but I told myself to stay in it, and it worked.”
Ganong posted a winning time of 1:00.80. Goldberg finished in 1:01.00, Engel in 1:01.06 and Bennett in 1:01.10.
“I was just remembering in the start about straight-lining that when I was a J4 and how many runs I’ve had down this. I know what to do down it, so it just came,” said Bennett, who added that racing at his home mountain was a rare treat. “There’s a lot of support. It’s cool because when you’re on the road in small races you don’t get that support. But when you’re home and the family, friends and community supports you, it’s a really cool feeling.”
Another Squaw Valley skier, Nick Daniels, finished sixth overall, while Tim Jitloff of Truckee, who won Thursday’s GS title, was seventh. Other local racers included Dylan Brooks (15th), Cody Wilson (22nd), Nick Cohee (23rd), Forrest Ferguson (24th), Erik Arvidsson (27th), Ty Sprock (32nd), Sean Higgins (34th), Max Hall (36th), James Lebel (40th) and Garret Driller (42nd).
A total of 30 racers did not finish on the technically challenging course.
“This is more of a World Cup than a Nationals hill. It’s pretty tricky, really steep out of the top with some blind turns,” Ganong said. “It’s intimidating. The key sections for me were on the flats. There was this little roller where it’s really blind and you have to find your edge really earlier before you even see the gate.”
ROSS TAKES WOMEN’S SG TITLE
Laurenne Ross of Bend, Ore., captured the first national title of her career by a mere .01 seconds over Truckee native Stacey Cook in the women’s U.S. Alpine Championships super G on Friday.
Local favorite Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley finished third.
“Everybody always goes out there with the goal of getting on the top of the podium, but usually it’s Julia,” Ross said. “It’s nice to beat her every once in a while because it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, it’s really exciting.”
Ross recorded a time of 1:02.50 to narrowly edge Cook, who finished in 1:02.51. Mancuso posted a time of 1:02.58. They were followed by Leanne Smith and Megan McJames.
“I think you could have made one-hundredth up in a lot of places. That’s about as tight as it gets, maybe a few inches,” Cook said. “But Laurenne has been so good all year, and also Julia. Anyone that beats Julia in super G right now is capable of a podium because she was there all year. So that’s pretty special. I’m very happy to be with my teammates. I don’t necessarily need to be on top.”
Top junior honors went to Abby Ghent of Edwards, Colo., followed by Paula Moltzan and Lauren Samuels.
Other local finishers included Foreste Peterson in 12th and Lila Lapanja in 14th, as well as Paige Whistler (28th), Julia Bjorkman (30th), Morganne Murphy and Nicolette Caravelli.
— The U.S. Ski Team contributed to this story.