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Kelchner Sweeps Disabled Ski Events

March 25, 1998

BEND, Ore. (AP) _ Jennifer Kelchner, who won the downhill gold medal in the Paralympics earlier in the month, won super-G and giant slalom races on Tuesday as the weather-plagued U.S. Disabled Alpine Championships wrapped up at Mount Bachelor.

Kelchner, 19, a transplanted New Yorker who lives in Vail, Colo., won the super-G in 46.02 seconds, 1.13 seconds faster than Mary Riddell of Dove Creek, Colo., and 2.23 ahead of Karolina Wisniewska of Canada.

Kelchner made it two in one day by winning the GS in a combined 2:04.34. Sarah Will of Vail, an eight-time Paralympic gold medalist who won the women’s slalom on Sunday, was second in 2:05.22 and Muffy Davis of Sun Valley, Idaho, was third in 2:07.97.

In men’s races, Chris Waddell of Granby, Maine, winner of the slalom on Sunday, won the giant slalom in 1:52.93. Greg Mannino of Vail was second in 1:53.93 and Jacob Rife of Pocatello, Idaho, third in 1:56.09. The super-G went to Kevin Bramblee of Winter Park, Colo., in 43.97, .08 ahead of Steven Bayley of New Zealand and .77 better than Jim Lagerstrom of Dearborn, Mich.

Kelchner, who lost her left leg below mid-calf at age 4 in a lawnmower accident, is a speed specialist, but she surprised herself with the GS victory Tuesday.

``I have to say I’m not a giant slalom skier, but my two GS runs today were better than my super-G,″ she said. ``I felt really on in both runs.″

Organizers were forced to double up the races after two days of bad weather. Saturday’s downhill races were canceled.

``Going to the nationals is really different, especially after two or three days in Hawaii to relax and get things together after Japan,″ Kelchner said. ``After Japan and Hawaii, you’re saying the season’s over, but you have to keep going.

``It’s been pretty mellow here, though,″ she added. ``We’re real laughy and giggly until it’s time to get into the gate, and then we’re serious. In the Olympics, we were serious all the time.″

After the American national championships, the disabled skiers head north for the Canadian championships.

``Then in the last week of April, we go to Washington to meet the president,″ she said. ``After that, I start college at Northern Colorado. It’s a really good teaching school and I want to be a math teacher.″

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