CARRABASSETT VALLEY — The bad weather finally broke, leaving a day of great skiing at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf on Wednesday.

Isabella Wright and Jared Goldberg took advantage of the conditions and skied the best on the Narrow Gauge course.

Wright earned her first national championship by winning the women’s downhill, while Goldberg won the men’s downhill for the third consecutive year.

The 30-year-old Goldberg has competed in the Winter Olympics twice (2014 and 2018), three World Championships and has 10 seasons of World Cup experience, but winning a national title is still special to him, because he remembers the excitement of arriving at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Sugarloaf when he qualified as a teenager.

“It’s really cool. I made it into the nationals probably 13 years ago or 15 years ago, or something, and was so excited and drove here in the middle of the night,” Goldberg, a Utah resident, said. “And it’s a big deal for the young guys and girls, and it just is cool to come here and be one of the big guys and be able to have good runs, because, for me this was huge when I was 16, so it’s fun to come back to a little bit lower-level race than World Cup and feel like one of the big dogs and just be able to push hard on the snow.”

Wednesday’s races also included skiers from Canada and Great Britain. Finishing after Goldberg (1 minute, 10.34 seconds) in the men’s race were a pair of Canadians, Jeffrey Read (1:10.64) and Broderick Thompson (1:10.65).

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Carrabassett Valley native Sam Morse had the second-fast time (1:11.15) by an American and fourth overall.

“It was decent,” the 25-year-old Morse said of his run. “It wasn’t perfect, but definitely executed my plan over headwall, scrubbed a little speed on a couple turns that I’ll look to clean up for the next race, but I was happy with it.”

Erik Arvidsson, the third-fastest American, tied Canadian Trevor Philp for fifth. Goldberg, Morse and Arvidsson are members of the U.S. Alpine B team.

Another Carrabassett Valley native, Luke Kearing — who attended Mt. Abram, Carrabassett Valley Academy and New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Academy before spending the past two years at Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire — skied the 10th-fastest time among the men. Kearing, 19, is planning to attend Harvard.

WRIGHT STUFF

Led by Wright, the four skiers who competed for the United States at last month’s Winer Olympics in Beijing had the fastest times in the women’s downhill and finished within a little more than a second of each other.

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“This is my first national championship title,” Wright said. “So it means a lot. I’m super excited. After everything that happened to me this year, with injuries and setbacks, it means so much to come out and have a great day in the sun with everyone on a perfect downhill day.”

At the Olympics, the 25-year-old Wright placed 21st in the super-G and competed in, but did not finish, the Alpine combined.

“There’s been a lot of ups and a lot of downs, just like any year,” Wright said. “But this year, for sure, had its biggest ups. It’s been awesome and I’m just super grateful.”

Prior to the Olympics, Wright hadn’t raced since December because of an injury. And since Beijing, she has been slowly rebuilding her confidence.

“Now I feel like I’m finally getting my rhythm, and, unfortunately, the season’s coming to an end,” Wright said.

Wright finished Wednesday’s downhill in 1:12.83, followed by Jacqueline Wiles (1:13.59), Keely Cashman (1:13.62) and Tricia Mangan (1:13.95).

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“I felt pretty good,” Cashman said. “I cleaned up some spots where I messed up in the training run, and the snow is amazing, so it felt like a pretty solid run, I thought.”

The skiers from Sugarloaf-based Carrabassett Valley Academy who participated in the women’s downhill Wednesday were: Abbygail Byers (17th of 27 racers), Althea Noyes (18th) and Josie Alexander (25th).

The Nor-Am Cup series held a downhill race after the U.S. championships on Wednesday. Goldberg and Wright repeated their victories.

Morse (1:10.92) finished a close third in the men’s race behind Goldberg (1:10.69) and Broderick Thompson (1:10.86) of Canada.

In the women’s Nor-Am race, Wright (1:13.30) was followed by Cashman (1:13.91) and Mangan (1:14.21).

‘PERFECT CONDITIONS’

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After three brutal days of weather, skiers couldn’t have asked for much better Wednesday.

“It’s perfect conditions,” Goldberg said. “Especially when we got to see how it was three or four days ago, when you could stick your boot (in the snow) up to your cuff because it was so soft. It’s so awesome that it locked up.”

Sunday’s training was called off because of wet weather and Monday’s due to soft spots on the course. The downhill was supposed to take place Tuesday, but the races were postponed to Wednesday.

Skiers were enthusiastically pleased with Wednesday’s course, snow and weather.

“This is like World Cup-level snow,” Isaiah Nelson, who finished eighth in the U.S. men’s downhill and sixth in the Nor-Am downhill, said.

“Today, the snow was amazing,” Wright added. “Honestly, they’ve done such a good job after the wind hold and everything with the delays yesterday, they handled everything really well, and I was grateful that we had a great race day.”

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Goldberg said the quality of Wednesday’s snow helped him navigate the course at Sugarloaf, which has more drastic turns than a typical World Cup downhill.

“This course is pretty swingy, as we say, and turny, so I’m used to these World Cup downhills where the gates are twice as far apart,” Goldberg said. “It’s always an eye-opener to come here and have to turn my skis so much … so I definitely was running out the line and kind of barely making the gates. And then the one critical section over headwall, I came in about a ski-length inside where I was anticipating, but because the snow is so good, I could pull it off and went on a really risky line and came over the blind roll and just landed in a perfect place, and it felt really cool.”

NATIONALS SCHEDULE

The U.S. Alpine Championships continue Thursday with the women’s and men’s super-G races.

The technical events are next Wednesday (men’s and women’s slalom), Thursday (men’s giant slalom) and Friday (women’s giant slalom).

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