Sullivan looking to prey on fateful course
Truckees Marco Sullivan, off to a hot start after earning his first career World Cup podium finish Saturday, returns this week to the Birds of Prey speed course where he tore knee ligaments four years ago.Despite losing nearly two years of racing to the injury, which occurred Dec. 4, 2003 during a downhill training crash, Sullivan made it clear he would not back down to the Beaver Creek, Colo., course.Ill be going for the win on Birds of Prey, said Sullivan, 27, who missed the rest of the 2004 season after the injury and all of 2005 before returning to make his second Olympic Team in Torino. Im forgetting about (the 2003 crash). I know Im skiing well and I know I can do better.This past weekend at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, Sullivan capped his comeback from multiple knee surgeries with a second-place finish behind Canadian Jan Hudec. He pulled off the feat through gusting winds and poor visibility in the opening Audi FIS Alpine World Cup downhill.His hometown peers took notice.Im stoked for him, said former U.S. teammate and Truckee resident Daron Rahlves, who spent Sunday evening, Nov. 19, watching football with Sullivan at the Blue Coyote. He said he was ready to go out there and crush it (at Lake Louise). It was the most confidence Ive ever seen him have.Rahlves who tasted more than his share of success during a 13-year career racing on the World Cup said that while Sullivan always has been blessed with natural touch on the snow, he now has developed into a more wise and mature team member.I think hes pretty much the leader on the team right now, Rahlves said. And mentally, hes ready.Thats where Rahlves knowledge comes in handy, as Sullivan said he takes advantage of the opportunity to pick the elder skiers brain about the nuances of the many World Cup venues, particularly Birds of Prey, of late.Yeah, for sure. Theres not many guys who have the track record he has ski racing for the U.S., Sullivan said. To have him live just a couple miles away, I feel thats a huge resource.Rahlves, whos flying to Colorado on Thursday night to watch Sullivan race, said he offered tactical advice about the Beaver Creek course mainly about how to handle the upper and lower sections of the mountain.Sullivan skiing on tender heels after fracturing both training in Chile this past September said he has been peppered with questions all week about returning to the fateful Birds of Prey course.Thats pretty much out of my mind, he said of Birds of Prey and the 2003 crash. Im really confident about my skiing right now, and Im just going to have fun getting out on the course.More top-3 finishes would add to the fun.The goal is to stand on the (podium) steps a bunch more times this year, Sullivan said.Last winter, he placed as high as fourth, just one-hundredth of a second away from his first podium in Val Gardena, Italy. He also had four top-15 finishes and won his second U.S. title, capturing the downhill at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships.With the bulk of the 2007-08 season ahead, Sullivan hopes to add exponentially to his accolades. Rahlves will be watching.Im stoked to see any guy on the team really find his own but hes also a local boy, Rahlves said. Im always pulling for him more than anyone. The U.S. Ski Team contributed to this report
Tuesday:Downhill training, 12:15 p.m.Wednesday:Downhill training, 11 a.m.Thursday:Super combinedDownhill, 11 a.m.Slalom, 2:30 p.m.Defending champion: Aksel Lund-Svindal (Norway)Friday:Downhill, 11 a.m.Defending champion: Bode Miller (USA)Saturday:Super-G, 11 a.m.Defending champion (2005): Stephan Goergl (Austria)Sunday:Giant slalomFirst run, 9:45 a.m.Second run, 12:45 p.m.Defending champion: Massimiliano Blardone (Italy)
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