Truckee skier climbing ranks
Truckee native Stacey Cook is back home, “trying to relax” while the U.S. Alpine Ski Team awaits snow to cover Europe’s World Cup venues.
“It’s always a great place to come back to. I like it right now because it’s like coming home to summer,” said Cook, who flew in on Monday from Alberta, Canada, where temperatures dipped to minus 33 during last weekend’s World Cup races at Lake Louise. So frigid was it during one training session, racers had to wait until the temperature rose three degrees, to minus 30, before the chairlifts could run, Cook said.
That didn’t prevent the 22-year-old Alpine racer from posting the best World Cup performance of her young career.
Cook, a 2002 Truckee High graduate and member of the state champion Wolverine soccer team in 2001, finished fourth on Friday in the first women’s downhill race of the season. She then tied for 24th in another downhill on Saturday and finished 25th in Sunday’s super G.
“She’s skiing better than ever right now,” Chip White, an assistant coach on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, said of Cook, who now lives and trains out of Mammoth. “She’s definitely going in the right direction. Last year was her best season, by far, and this year she’s starting off on the right foot.”
Last year indeed was a good one for Cook ” enough to surprise herself, even.
Having never scored World Cup points before the 2006 season, Cook burst onto the international scene with points in three disciplines (downhill, super G and giant slalom) and was selected to represent her country in the Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.
“That was so cool. It was such a surprise,” Cook said of her selection to the Olympic team. “Just to hear your name called on the Olympic list is something that you want to hear your whole life.”
And the experience was every bit as wild as Cook expected.
“It was pretty overwhelming coming from Tahoe where everything is so chill,” she said.
Cook raced two events at the Winter Games, finishing 19th in downhill, her strongest event, and 23rd in giant slalom. Upon returning from Italy, Cook capped her season with a super G title in the U.S. Alpine Championships.
White explained why Cook has had so much success of late.
“Because she’s Stacey,” he said. “She’s a very hard worker, she’s determined and focused and is she’s very professional. She’s done everything we’ve asked of her and then some. And she has qualified teammates that help push her.”
Asked what her strength is on skis, White had another simple answer: “Her strength. She’s extremely strong.”
“She works extremely hard on and off the hill,” he continued. “She obviously has the natural talent, but she also has the ability to adapt and change based on comments from her coaches.”
After a long season of ski racing, Cook treated herself to a six-week vacation in Hawaii ” albeit the first week was a training camp for the U.S. Ski Team.
There, she hung out with professional big wave surfer Dave Kalama, former U.S. Alpine skier Shaina Kalama (formerly Shaina Mulkern) and other “big wig” surfers who call the island home.
“Every day was a new adventure,” Cook said, adding that most of the adventurous sports she tried took place in the water.
One such sport was stand-up paddling, which Cook said was one of the best training tools she’s done for balance and core strength. Another was canoe surfing, a sport in which a multi-person crew catches a wave from their outrigger canoe, then rides it in while performing stunts.
Cook’s team, made up of the Kalamas and a guy named “Junior,” competed in and placed first in the Maui Canoe Surfing Association’s Summer Splash 2006, Cook said.
Then she came home, the weather cooled and another ski season began.
“I feel really good. This is the strongest I’ve ever been,” she said. “I came back from Hawaii in the best shape of my life.”
2006-’07 World Cup: First career top-5 finish (4th in downhill)
2006 Olympics: 19th in downhill, 23rd in giant slalom
2006 U.S. super G champion
2006 World Cup points in DH, SG, GS
Loves Lake Louise: five NorAm wins since 2003
2004 Nor Am overall/DH champion (four DH wins)
2005 NorAm super G runner-up (two wins)
Two-time Junior Worlds racer
” Info from U.S. Ski Team
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