Photo: U.S. Ski Team
The NorAm and U.S. Championship races were off to a slow start after weather delayed the onset of the 10 day series at Sugarloaf Mountain. In back-to-back downhill races on Wednesday, U.S. Ski Team member Bella Wright captured the wins for the day while Alpine Canada’s Stefanie Fleckenstein was awarded the NorAm downhill title.
The American women swept the podium in the double header downhills. Bella Wright decisively took both wins and was crowned downhill national champion in the morning race. Just behind was teammate Jacqueline Wiles, a 10-year national team veteran, 0.76 seconds off of Wright’s winning time. Rounding out the podium in third was Keely Cashman. All three women are Olympians.
“It feels amazing. I think this year has had its challenges and also its great moments,” said Wright. “I’m just excited to be back in the U.S. racing here.”
The last time the event was held at Sugarloaf three years ago, Wright was still trying to qualify for the national team.
“Just to think of the road that I’ve come from then to now is so exciting and heartwarming,” Wright said.
In the second downhill of the day Keely Cashman finished second to Wright, 0.61 seconds behind. Their Olympic teammate, Tricia Mangan, finished third.
Lauren Macuga, fresh off her Junior World Championships bronze medal in downhill, was the fastest junior in both races. Macuga had been neck and neck with Canada’s Stefanie Fleckenstein for the NorAm downhill title throughout the season. Fleckenstein edged ahead of Macuga in the first race by nearly half a second, finishing fourth. Despite a DNF in the second race, Fleckenstein had the most points from the season and walked away as the 2022 NorAm downhill champion. Macuga finished second, with Canada’s Candace Crawford rounding out the standings in third.
Up next is the U.S. Alpine Championships super-G for both men and women on Thursday, followed by the NorAm super-G on Friday for both men and women.