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    Tuesday, December 30, 1997

    King, Gilbertson win U.S. berths

     LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) -- Three years ago, Suzanne King thought of quitting cross-country ski racing. Now she's headed for the Winter Olympics.
     King, who knew she wouldn't make the U.S. Olympic team as a discretionary pick because at 33 she's too old, edged 27-year-old Kerrin Petty of Townshend, Vt., by 14.8 seconds Tuesday to win the women's 15-kilometer freestyle race at Mount Van Hoevenberg and grab a spot on the U.S. team that will compete at Nagano, Japan in February.
     The same story line played out in the men's competition. Marc Gilbertson, 28, of Morrisville, Vt., easily won the 30-kilometer freestyle event. Gilbertson, who put his teaching career on hold this year to give the Olympic trials a shot, beat second-place finisher Pete Vordenberg of Boulder, Colo., by more than two minutes. Justin Wadsworth of Bend, Ore., was third, nearly a half-minute further back.
     King said she knew her chances were good when she woke up and was greeted with more than a foot of new snow. Two years earlier, she had won a national championship race of the same length after a snowstorm had pelted the Adirondack Mountains, so she dusted off the same skis and gave it another try.
     "I didn't feel like I had any guarantees that I would or could make the team," King said. "But I came ready to give what I have. I've been told that I probably wouldn't be around in 2002. Whether that's true or not, that's not their decision."
     King was not among the leaders at the halfway mark. That was by design.
     "I tried hard not to win the first lap," said King, who taught high school English in Japan from 1988-90. "It's awfully tempting because you feel the best. You're fresh and you're ready to attack, you're anxious to race. I kind of swallowed that, tried to suppress that and save up. I kept thinking -- second time around, second time around. I had something to give then."
     So, too, did Gilbertson, who has never raced in a World Cup event, never been a member of the U.S. Ski Team, and never finished higher than 17th in high school competition.
     "I wasn't going to make a discretion," said Gilbertson, who teaches geography and history at Lamoille Union High School. "They're not going to take a 28-year-old schoolteacher on discretion, so I had to put the hammer down."
     And that's exactly what he did on the fourth and final lap.
     "I was getting good splits. I was right on where I wanted to be the first couple of laps," Gilbertson said. "Then got a couple of splits where I was a ways back and I had to pick it up. But I felt comfortable."
     Not at the end. After a headlong sprint to the finish line, Gilbertson collapsed in the snow, coughing and gasping for breath, a three-inch-long icicle hanging from his yellow-tinted sunglasses.
     But there was the unmistakable smile of a winner imprinted on his face and emotion in his voice as he savored a moment he is not likely to forget.
     "We were ready for a comeback," he said. "Vermonters are tough, and it was a tough guy's day."
     LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) -- Results of women's and men's freestyle technique cross-country ski races on Tuesday in the U.S. Ski Team Olympic trials (Winners automatically qualify for Olympic berth):
     Women's 15-Kilometer
     1. Suzanne King, Minneapolis, 51 minutes, 6.3 seconds.
     2. Kerrin Petty, Townsend, Vt., 51:21.1.
     3. Laura McCabe, Winthrop, Wash., 52:10.2.
     4. Laura Wilson, Ketchum, Idaho, 52:51.0.
     5. Jennifer Douglas, Ketchum, Idaho, 52:59.1
     6. Kelli-Jo Lindeman, Ninilchik, Alaska, 53:52.7.
     7. Hailey Wappett, Fairbanks, Alaska, 53:56.3.
     8. Jenny Fayette, Ketchum, Idaho, 54:13.7.
     9. Wendy Wagner, Park City, Utah, 54:26.6.
     10. Amy Crawford, Anchorage, Alaska, 54:42.7.
     11. Sara Zimmer, Duluth, Minn., 54:57.2.
     12. Jeannie Wall, Bozeman, Mont., 55:26.1.
     13. Kristina Joder, Londonderry, Vt., 55:48.8.
     14. Natalie Cartwright, Alstead, N.H., 55:51.3.
     15. Sonya Stoklosa, Park City, Utah, 56:33.6.
     16. Gina Legueri, Biwabik, Minn., 56:39.2
     17. Barbara Jones, Hanover, N.H., 56:54.1.
     18. Kelly McCann, Ketchum, Idaho, 57:22.4.
     19. Tessa Benoit, Pomfret, N.H., 57:14.3.
     20. Jayme Schricker, Duluth, Minn., 59:43.1.
     21. Julie Southwell, Bend, Ore., 1:00:15.6.
     22. Devon Crawford, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1:00.29.6.
     23. Molly Enman, Williston, Vt., 1:00:30.2.
     24. Denali Kemppel, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:05:03.6.
     25. Lara DuMond, Raybrook, N.Y., 1:08:39.6.
     Men's 30-Kilometer
     1. Marc Gilbertson, Mornsville, Vt., 1 hour, 28 minutes, 37.8 seconds.
     2. Pete Vordenberg, Boulder, Colo., 1:30:40.6.
     3. Justin Wadsworth, Bend, Ore., 1:31:07.3.
     4. John Bauer, Champlin, Minn., 1:31:18.2.
     5. Nathan Schultz, Boulder, Colo., 1:31:38.5.
     6. Todd Boonstra, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:32:25.2.
     7. Carl Swenson, North Conway, N.H., 1:32:53.1.
     8. Robert Whitney, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:33:29.7.
     9. Scott Loomis, Yarmouth, Maine, 1:36:11.1.
     10. Adam Heaney, Bend, Ore., 1:36:18.8.
     11. Patrick Weaver, Lenox, Mass., 1:36:22.0.
     12. Erik Flora, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:36:58.2.
     13. Kurt Wulff, Minoqua, Wis., 1:37:47.7.
     14. Cory Custer, Bozeman, Mont., 1:37:54.9.
     15. Frosty Whitworth, New Hampton, N.H., 1:38:12.5.
     16. Chad Giese, Mora, Minn., 1:38:22.5.
     17. Bruce Bauer, Champlin, Minn., 1:38:29.4.
     18. Adam Verrier, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:39:08.5.
     19. Brad Nelson, Duluth, Minn., 1:39:11.3.
     20. Cory Smith, Park City, Utah, :39:20.5.
     21. David Chamberlain, Wilton, Mass., 1:39:26.4.
     22. Dave Stewart, Ripton, Vt., 1:40:44.1.
     23. Eli Brown, Duluth, Minn., 1:41:40.2.
     24. Stephen Donahue, Norwich, Vt., 1:41:48.6.
     25. Ian Skinner, Sun Valley, Idaho, 1:42:13.7.
     26. Scott McArt, Honeoye Falls, N.Y., 1:42:53.5.
     27. Justin Freeman, Franklin, N.H., 1:43:17.6.
     28. Bill McDonnell, Newbury, Vt., 1:43:41.8.
     29. Eric Maas, Hanover, N.H., 1:43:49.1.
     30. Eli Enman, Williston, Vt., 1:43:58.9.
     31. Phil Bowen, Duluth, Minn., 1:44:33.3.
     32. Michael Myers, Plymouth, Minn., 1:45:41.2.
     33. Todd Eastman, Winter Park, Colo., 1:47:17.2.
     34. Jesse Downs, Sylvan Beach, N.Y., 1:47:38.4.
     35. Marc Beitz, Minneapolis, 1:48:37.1.