Shaw tops women's field

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— On Sunday, Australian rider Johanna Shaw displayed the talent that earned her an Olympic berth on the way to winning the Race to the Cup parallel giant slalom at Howelsen Hill.

"I had pretty hard heats, so I had to ride well from the start," Shaw said. "I just wanted to have consistent runs."

Shaw, who trains with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, posted the fastest qualifying time Sunday morning and then worked her way past Lindsay Lloyd, Caroline Calve and Constance Boisvert in the brackets.

The competition came down to Shaw, who was named to the Australian Olympic team this month, against Canadian Kimiko Zakreski in the final heat of the day.

Zakreski is also a member of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, and the two riders are good friends.

"Conditions were difficult all day, " Zakreski said. "It seemed like I was holding on for dear life on every run."

Shaw got the best of her teammate on the first run in the finals. A bobble by Zakreski allowed Shaw to take a 1.5-second advantage into the second run. Zakreski improved her performance on her second run but was nipped by the fast-moving Shaw at the finish line.

"It was a good day, and it's good to be on the podium with Johanna," Zakreski said. "She is my partner in crime."

Zakreski was one of three Canadian riders who advanced to the semifinals of Sunday's event. Zakreski defeated fellow Canadian Megan Bishop in the semifinals. Shaw moved past another Canadian, Constance Boisvert, to advance to the final heat. Boisvert went on to finish third, and Bishop finished fourth.

The women will return to Howelsen Hill today for the Race to the Cup parallel slalom event. Racing will begin at 9 a.m., with the finals at 12:30 p.m.

The Race to the Cup featured NorAm level racing. This winter's Race to the Cup events were held at Copper Mountain on Nov. 21 and 22, at Stratton Mountain on Dec. 20 and 21, and in Steamboat Springs this week.

-- To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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