Alice Merryweather of the U.S. Ski Team wins the U.S. Alpine Downhill Championship at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley on Tuesday. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

Alice Merryweather, center, won the U.S. Alpine Downhill Champioship at Sugarloaf on Tuesday. Keely Cashman, right, came in second and AJ Hurt, left, took third. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

Alice Merryweather of the U.S. Ski Team is the U.S. Alpine Downhill Champion. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

 

CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Alice Merryweather made a couple mistakes in the morning during the NorAm downhill race and finished in the bronze medal position.

“It wasn’t my send-iest skiing,” Merryweather said.

In the afternoon, Merryweather corrected the mistakes to win the U.S. national downhill title in 1:10.61.

“I think I got a little more fired up and knew the national title was on the line, so I just kind of pinned it a little bit more,” Merryweather said.

The part-time Dartmouth student decided that she’d have to let loose a little more. She needed to send it.

“I think I just needed to take a breath, and I don’t know if I put too much pressure on myself this morning or just didn’t put any pressure at all,” Merryweather said. “It was kind of a weird balance where I’m here and I think knowing that the national title was on the line was a little bit of motivation. I was more comfortable with the track after having an extra run down this morning and so I just felt more comfortable sending it a little bit harder.”

Merryweather went to high school in Massachusetts, but learned downhill at Sugarloaf, which made Tuesday’s win that much more meaningful.

“It feels really, really good,” Merryweather said. “It’s really cool to be back, and think about what I would tell myself six or seven years ago. If I said, ‘You would win a national title on this hill,’ I probably wouldn’t believe you, so it’s really sweet to be back here.”

For runner-up Keely Cashman, Tuesday marked the tail end of her first-full year of downhill racing.

“I was pretty happy,” Cashman said of her 1:10.92 finishing time. “Downhill is kind of a new thing for me so I was pretty happy. Last year I did it in one race, and then this year I’ve done quite a few more races as I’ve gotten into it more and I think that’s helped a lot, so this is definitely one of my best results. I’m super happy with it.”

Cashman and Merryweather both said that Sugarloaf’s Narrow Gauge course was firm, yet skier-friendly.

“The snow was really fast so the speeds were up and the turns were a lot quicker,” Cashman said. “I thought my run was pretty solid and I didn’t really make any mistakes. Our edges are really sharp. It was really firm, but it was grippy. I think the course was set really well and it wasn’t really an issue for me.”

AJ Hurt finished third with a time of 1:11.18. The top nine finishers all finished within two seconds of each other.

In 29th place was 17-year-old Ella Spear of Carrabassett Valley Academy. The Boothbay native finished with a time of 1:17.03 in her second career competitive downhill race, the first being in the NorAm race Tuesday morning.

After not being too excited about her run in the morning, Spear pinpointed where she made mistakes on the course and erased them.

“We had two races today, so my first run was not really great, I got really late on the hill, and the second run I just told myself I was going to send it more and go as straight as I could,” Spear said. “I skied the parts that I didn’t ski well last time good this time, so it was better.”

Spear was happy with how she skied in her first U.S. Alpine national championship race. It helped that she’s skied the trail countless times as part of CVA training. She also got to race in front of her family.

“It’s amazing, it’s super-awesome to have it at home on a hill that I’ve skied before,” Spear said. “I think that really helped me going into it because I think doing your first downhill on somewhere you know, you’ve skied, is a lot easier. It’s super cool to see all my family here and my brother training and then he can come down and watch me race is super cool.”

NORAM CUP

Nina O’Brien won the NorAm Cup downhill race Tuesday at Sugarloaf. The NorAm races were originally scheduled for Monday but where pushed back to Tuesday morning.


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