Friday, January 29, 2010

Hailey Duke joins U.S. Olympic alpine team

U.S. Ski Team photo 2010 Olympic team alpine racer Hailey Duke grew up skiing in Sun Valley.

From the U.S. Ski Team

Boise resident Hailey Duke, 24, who began skiing at the age of 2 on Dollar Mountain, was one of 22 athletes named to the 2010 Olympic Alpine Ski Team.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President Bill Marolt announced the team roster Monday. The team is a mix of 10 Olympic veterans and 12 first-timers.

The alpine events will be held at Whistler Mountain north of Vancouver.

Duke's parents, Larry and Jane Duke, were ski instructors at Sun Valley. Her first race was a Kindercup event when she was 4.

"I actually had to do it twice because my first go-round I missed the finish to go hit my favorite jump," she said.

Duke began racing with the McCall Ski Team at age 8, but shifted to the Park City Ski Team in 2004.

Slalom specialist Duke joins a women's team led by Double World Champion Lindsey Vonn from Vail, Colo. Vonn's 2008 and 2009 seasons accounted for five World Cup titles, yet her genuine approachability by fans and media alike have rocketed her to the forefront of Olympic sport, including a recently announced honor as 2009 U.S. Olympic Committee SportsWoman of the Year. Vonn has won every World Cup downhill this season and currently leads the overall, downhill, super G and super combined points standings.

"With Lindsey, there's potential in every event," said women's Head Coach Jim Tracy. "She's put in the hard work to make it happen and has proven she can. But the cream of the crop will be there and they all have the same goal. She's said it better than anyone—if she wins one medal of any color, she'll be happy. Everything else will be a bonus."

Leading the men's team will be two-time Olympic silver medalist Bode Miller (Franconia, N.H.) and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah). Though Miller has been sidelined for much of this winter with an ankle injury, his season was sparked by a January super combined victory in classic Wengen, Switzerland.

Ligety's big race success began in 2006 when he became the Olympic combined gold medalist. He has since continued the trend with multiple World Cup wins, a World Cup giant slalom title in 2008 and a World Championship giant slalom bronze in 2009.

"As a team we're proud of this group of guys," men's Head Coach Sasha Rearick said. "It's an impressive mix of veterans like Ted and Bode, who've shown they can perform when it counts. But then we've got young guys like Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.), who have consistently made progress all winter."

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