Robby Kelley mastered the tactically tough Winter Park snow to close the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships with giant slalom gold (CJ Feehan)
WINTER PARK, CO (April 1) - Robby Kelley (Starksboro, VT/Cochran's/Mt. Mansfield Ski and Snowboard Club) became the latest "Skiing Cochran" to claim a national title as he closed the sun soaked Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships with giant slalom gold. Norwegians Espen Lysdahl and Leif Kristian Haugen finished 2-3 as temps soared into the mid 60s for a spring break atmosphere in Winter Park. Top junior honors went to fellow Vermonter Robert Cone (Killington, VT/Middlebury College Ski Team), who was also the top junior in slalom. The Western Region claimed the Tom Garner Trophy with a 2,738 point total over the five day championships.
Robby Kelley (Starksboro, VT) closed a successful Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships with giant slalom gold for the first national title of his career.
Kelley is of the famous "Skiing Cochran's" lineage. His mother Lindy is a 1976 Olympian and older siblings Tim and Jessica have also been members of the U.S. Ski Team.
His cousin Jimmy Cochran (Keene, NH) anounced his retirement from the U.S. Ski Team Thursday and other cousin Ryan Cochran-Siegle is the junior world downhill and combined champion.
The race capped five days of spectacular competition in Winter Park under sunny skies and spring-like temperatures.
Norwegian Espen Lysdahl won silver and Leif Kristian Haugen took bronze for his second podium of the championships.
Robert Cone (Killington, VT) took his second junior title with Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA/Squaw Valley Ski Team) second and Christopher McKenna (Quechee, VT/Burke Mountain Academy) in third.
The Western Region retained the Tom Garner Trophy with 2,738 points followed by the East with 1,429 and Rocky Central with 1,225.
QUOTES Robby Kelley Once I saw number one on the board I was so excited I couldn’t really control my emotions. I started fist pumping, it's just an awesome feeling, something you dream about.
No matter where we go, we always have fast people to ski with. My brother Timmy and my sister Jess are really fast, Ryan [Cochran-Siegle] and Jimmy [Cochran] are really fast and my other cousin Roger Brown was on the U.S. Ski Team so no matter where we go, we're always pushing each other. It's an incredible family support system and a lot of fun.
It was pretty good up top the whole way and then I got a little late coming around this corner. I didn’t know if I’d be able to hold on for the win but I skied well at the bottom and came out on top.
This is has been an amazing U.S. Championships, the fans have been awesome and Winter Park did an incredible job with the snow this week. With temperatures like this it takes a lot of work to keep the surface skiable and they pulled it off.
Leif Kristian Haugen We train here regularly with Denver University so this is a home hill for a lot of the college skiers, we know the hill. [The course] held up pretty good, a lot better than I thought it was going to be, it was possible to throw down some really fast runs.
Robert Cone The snow wasn't perfect and ideal, but it was a great day and turned out to be a lot of fun. I had the same mindset today as I did in the slalom and just went for it on this snow.
I was up there smiling in the gate. There wasn't a cloud in the sky.
The folks back in Vermont are probably pretty stoked on today. Robby skied great and deserved the win and it was pretty exciting for me to get back on the podium. We're getting ready for sping back in Vermont, but it's cool for the Vermont guys to ski well out West.
TV NBC will air the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships on April 7 at 3:30 p.m.