Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gold medalists lead U.S. Olympic Alpine ski team to Sochi

20 skiers picked Sunday for American squad

Express Staff Writer

     The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association nominated 20 athletes Sunday to the U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team that plans to compete in Sochi, Russia next month during the 2014 Winter Olympics, according to the USSA News Bureau.

     Revealed Sunday at Park City, Utah, the U.S. team is led by Olympic gold medalists Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah, Julia Mancuso of Squaw Valley, Ca. and world champion Mikaela Shiffrin of Eagle-Vail, Co.

     The U.S. Olympic Committee will formally name the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Jan. 27.

     Miller, 36, is five-time Olympic medalist, including winning gold, silver and bronze in 2010. Sochi will be his fifth Olympic Winter Games. Miller’s recent results on the Audi FIS World Cup tour show he is building to an Olympic medal bid.

     Mancuso, 29, always a clutch performer in international competitions, is a double Olympic silver medalist, earning both in 2010. She is also the 2006 gold medalist for giant slalom, making her the U.S. female skier with the most medals ever in the Winter Olympics.

     Ligety, 29, the 2006 Olympic combined champion, won a historic three gold medals at the 2013 World Championships to become the first male athlete to do so since 1968. Ligety is  the U.S. leader in the 2014 World Cup overall standings, in fourth place. He shares the lead in the men’s combined standings.

     Shiffrin, 18, captured the 2013 FIS World Championship title for slalom and also captured the season-long World Cup slalom title last winter. She currently leads all Americans in the World Cup women’s standings, in sixth place overall.

     Starters in each event are determined the night prior to that event.

     The team was selected from results on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup tour over the Olympic qualification period, which ended Jan. 26.

     Medal competition at the Rosa Khutor alpine venue begins Sunday, Feb. 9 with men’s downhill followed by women’s super combined on Monday, Feb. 10. Other alpine events currently scheduled:

     Wednesday, Feb. 12: Women’s downhill.

     Friday, Feb. 14: Men’s super combined.

     Saturday, Feb. 15: Women’s super giant slalom.

     Sunday, Feb. 16: Men’s super giant slalom.

     Tuesday, Feb. 18: Women’s giant slalom.

     Wednesday, Feb. 19: Men’s giant slalom.

     Friday, Feb. 21: Women’s slalom.

     Saturday, Feb. 22: Men’s slalom.

     Besides Miller and Ligety, the contingent of 11 men on the U.S. team includes six other former Olympians and three first-time Olympians. The first-timers are David Chodounsky, 29, of Crested Butte, Co., Travis Ganong, 25, of Squaw Valley and Jared Goldberg, 22, of Holladay, Utah.

     The former Olympians are Erik Fisher, 28, of Middleton, Idaho; Tim Jitloff, 29, of Reno, Nev.; Nolan Kasper, 24, of Warren, Vt.; Steven Nyman, 31, of Sundance, Utah; Marco Sullivan, 33, of Squaw Valley; and Andrew Weibrecht, 27, of Lake Placid, N.Y.

     Of the nine U.S. female Olympians, first-time Olympians besides Shiffrin are Julia Ford, 23, of Holderness, N.H., Laurenne Ross, 25, of Bend, Ore. and Jacqueline Wiles, 21, of Aurora, Ore.

     Former female U.S. Olympians besides Mancuso are Stacey Cook, 29, of Mammoth Mountain, Ca.; Megan McJames, 26, of Park City; Leanne Smith, 26, of North Conway, N.H.; and Resi Stiegler, 28, of Jackson Hole, Wyo.

     U.S. Alpine Director Patrick Riml said, “We’re on a really good track right now. All the programs, both the tech and speed athletes, are showing really good improvements and progressions. I’m very pleased with where we are right now going into the Games.”

     Referring to results from the 2013-14 World Cup season, Riml added, “It was maybe a little bit of a rough start in some of the areas. But you can see in women’s speed, they are picking it up. Julia and Stacey are doing a good job—same with some of the younger girls and on the men’s side. You can see it with the performance we have right now from the veterans but also the younger athletes. I’m very pleased with them and I feel really comfortable with this team going into the Games.”

     Sasha Rearick, Men’s Alpine Head Coach said, “As a group we’re building moment right now, which is really nice to see. The guys have been working hard all summer, all fall and all winter, day in and day out and that’s starting to show. The guys have shown 100 percent effort every day.”

     Alex Hoedlmoser, Women’s Alpine Head Coach, said, “I’m proud of the progress this team has made the closer we get to Sochi. We still have a lot of work to do, but the potential for success is certainly there.

     “On the tech side with Mikaela, we have some huge potential, both in the slalom and giant slalom. On the speed side, we saw that Julia and Stacey definitely are on the right track, on a huge upswing. Sochi is a total different thing and the chances are there for champion performances.”

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