The 2019 U.S. National Championships were contested in the Eastern United States at two separate resorts at the end of March. The speed events, including downhill, super-G, and alpine combined held at Sugarloaf in Maine, were coupled with NorAm races which ran concurrently. Then competitors made their way inland to Waterville Valley in New Hampshire for giant slalom, slalom, and the first-ever national championship parallel slalom races.
World Cup speed specialist Alice Merryweather kicked off the series by claiming the first national title of her career with a win in the ladies' downhill on Narrow Gauge. Ryan Cochran-Siegle, no stranger to collecting serious hardware at the end of the season, won the men's downhill and super-G in the opening week. Nina O'Brien, meanwhile, gave him chase by grabbing the ladies' super-G and alpine combined wins. Finally, 2018 Junior World Championships super-G bronze medalist Luke Winters picked up his career-first national title in the men's alpine combined after skiing the fastest slalom run of the day.
“This is honestly such an amazing surface to be racing on,” Cochran-Siegle said of the commendably firm conditions so late in the season. “For a lot of racers, they look forward to being on a surface like this because it’s fair and it holds up. And I was so happy to come here and see just how well the hill has been prepped, it makes it a lot more enjoyable for racers like us to come here.”
Shifting gears in Waterville Valley made little difference for O'Brien who added two more titles to her haul with the parallel slalom and slalom wins. Winters also carried his form from the combined into the men's slalom where he collected his second title of the week. Former U.S. Ski Team athlete and Montana State University racer Garret Driller relied on his World Pro Tour experience to emerge with his first-ever national title in the debut event.
“The World Pro Tour definitely gave a little added experience, knowing how to come out of the start gate, and how scary it is to have someone right next to you going down the course,” said Driller.
The series concluded with Cochran-Siegle completing his medal trifecta with the giant slalom victory and marking his U.S. National Championships career tally at seven total titles. While O'Brien was gunning for her fifth consecutive title of 2019 in the GS race, Keely Cashman capitalized on her first-run lead and a solid second run to win the first title of her career.
"It’s always been a huge goal of mine (to win a U.S. title),” Cashman said. “I remember when (the U.S. Alpine Championships) came to Squaw when I was a U14, and I remember watching everyone, and now to be sitting on top of the podium really means a lot. it’s a good stepping stone, and this will really slingshot me into next season, so I’m really happy about it.”
See full results from the speed races in Sugarloaf here.
See full results from the technical races in Waterville Valley here.