Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sun Valley's Hailey Duke makes 2009 World Championship team

Vonn extends World Cup overall lead

Photo by Getty Images/AFP-Alberto Pizzoli World Cup women’s leader and defending champion Lindsey Vonn, 24, races through gates at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy Sunday en route to 10th place in the World Cup women’s giant slalom race.

Ten Olympians, including World Championship medalists Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Bode Miller will represent America at the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Making her first world championship team was Sun Valley native Hailey Duke, 23, of Boise, a slalom specialist.

U.S. Alpine Program Director Jesse Hunt announced the world team Monday following the last weekend of Audi FIS World Cup qualifying events.

The biennial event runs Feb. 3-15 in Val d'Isere, France, including the men's speed venue from the 1992 Olympic Winter Games. NBC, the Olympic network, will air same weekend coverage of the world championships on Feb. 7-8 and also on Sunday, Feb. 15.

"We are bringing a powerful team to worlds," said Hunt. "We have seasoned world championship medalists with Lindsey, Julia and Bode. Ted Ligety, Marco Sullivan and Steven all have success on the World Cup. Now they're aiming for top results at Worlds."

Vonn, Mancuso and Miller bring a combined total of ten world championship medals into 2009. Miller leads the way with four gold medals and silver from 2003 and 2005. Mancuso holds a pair of bronze medals from 2005 and silver from 2007. Vonn carries two silvers from 2007.

"Our coaching staff has studied the course layouts at Val d'Isere and has set specific training programs to prepare our athletes for that terrain," added Hunt. "We've looked at every aspect of this venue and have worked with our athletes and their equipment suppliers to make sure we're ready to compete."

Hunt also acknowledged two athletes who had been having breakthrough seasons but were injured on the eve of the Team naming. TJ Lanning of Park City, Utah and Leanne Smith of Conway, N.H. were both injured over the weekend and will not be able to participate.

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