Julie Parisien’s only chance of making it to the Olympics this year lies in Europe.
“I just have to be consistently the first American in Europa Cup races,” the Auburn, Maine, native said Saturday. “If I can do that, I deserve a spot on the team.”
At the Olympic trials in Lake Placid, N.Y., Parisien, trying to regain membership on the U.S. Ski Team after three years racing on the pro circuit, was third in 42.31.
Picabo Street, the two-time World Cup downhill champion and the 1994 Olympic downhill silver medalist, won the women’s race as expected. Her time of 40.96 seconds for the 1,200-meter track was 1.11 seconds better than Tatum Skogland of Bellevue, Wash.
Men’s and women’s downhills were scheduled Friday, with super-Gs on Saturday. But a thaw on Friday created fog and soft snow that doomed the downhills, forcing officials to add them to the schedule for Saturday, last day of the trials.
However, light rain and more warmth wiped out the downhills and, later in the morning, the super-Gs. The cancellations force officials to select all team members on the basis of World Cup points.
In Thursday’s first training run, Parisien beat everyone except Street.
“I’m skiing so well,” she said. “That’s just a joy anyway. But I think I could have had two top-threes here and I think that would have meant being named to the team.”
Parisien left the U.S. Ski Team in 1994, criticizing the administration and the coaches. Now, after three years on a pro tour, she’s back, hoping to return to the highest level of her sport.
Bill Marolt, president of the U.S. Ski Association, sat down with Parisien before her comeback and outlined a plan that would allow her to return in time for the Japan Olympics. She would have to start at the bottom and pay her own way.
“She’s done a very good job of working her way back up the ladder,” Marolt said. “She’s moving in that direction.”
Parisien says she has spent $15,000 since October and needs a successful January in order to continue her quest.
“I’m definitely struggling,” she said. “It’s getting close to crunch time for me. I need to get some funding. But that’s one of those life worries. Everybody worries about money.”
Parisien plans to leave for Europe today, work her way up to the World Cup competition, and qualify for the Olympics.
“I’m a little nervous,” Parisien said. “If I can get three or four days on snow in Europe – which doesn’t look good because there’s no snow – I’ll be all right.”