CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Nina O’Brien took the lessons learned from her first super-G run and won a national title in her second Wednesday at the U.S. Alpine Speed Championships.

The busy day of three super-G races opened with the first leg of the women’s Alpine combined (which consists of super-G and slalom). O’Brien, of Colorado, took second in that race, and after the men’s super-G national championship it was the women’s turn on the Narrow Gauge course.

This time, O’Brien escaped with the quickest time, finishing the winding, icy and bumpy track in 1:15.01.

“I thought I skied well on my first run but there were some spots where I could clean up a few mistakes,” said O’Brien, 21. “(The second run) felt pretty solid the whole way down. I was definitely going for it and taking some risks, and I think it paid off. I had a small mistake on the bottom of my first run and so this time I just tried to keep it cool all the way to the finish. I knew what was coming so I was prepared for it.”

Second-place finisher AJ Hurt (1:15.20) took off through the course in the sixth spot, followed by third-place finisher Keely Cashman (1:15.64), and then O’Brien. While O’Brien couldn’t see the entire runs of her two teammates, she did see the beginnings, and that was enough to give her the proper mindset.

“I knew at the start that all the girls sort of in our zone were going to be really fast,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t see too much, but I could see when I was standing in the gate the person right in front of me push out and do the first few turns. It sort of gets me hyped up to see them arching and ripping and I’m like, ‘OK, I need to do that.’ “

O’Brien wasn’t too shocked by her win, but the super-G hasn’t been her focus this winter.

“It feels really good,” O’Brien said. “I haven’t done too much super-G this year, I’ve been doing a lot of GS and slalom, so I’m pretty psyched to maybe end up first. I have a good feeling on my skies, which I’m psyched about, even without the training, so I feel like it’s coming together.”

Hurt took note of the spots on the course that caused trouble on her first run four hours earlier.

“I think running the same course twice is always beneficial,” Hurt said. “I had a few mistakes up top, but I felt really good about my lower half. Overall, I was happy with my results. All I had in my mind was fixing those mistakes, which I did, thank God. I was happy with that.”

Not only was Hurt, 18, the runner-up for the super-G national championship, she also placed third in the first leg of the Alpine combined. Cashman finished in first in the opening leg of the combined.

Tuesday’s downhill national champion Alice Merryweather suffered DNFs (did not finish) in both of Wednesday’s super-G races.

Boothbay native and Carrabassett Valley Academy senior Ella Spear finished in 22nd in the super-G championship race after coming in 12th in the first leg of the combined.

“It was a lot bumpier, this run,” Spear said. “The guys ran in between, so I think they beat up the track a little bit so it was bumpier. It was just as fast, so my legs are getting tired. I think I probably did pretty good, but I definitely would have liked to clean it up a little bit. I wasn’t really on the line I was hoping for but I’m happy with it.”

The slalom leg of the women’s Alpine combined is Thursday.


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