Vonn, Shiffrin ready to race | AspenTimes.com

Vonn, Shiffrin ready to race

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Mikaela Shiffrin of Vail looks over the finishing slope for the giant slalom and slalom races at Aspen Mountain.

The leaders of the U.S. Ski Team are ready to race in Aspen.

"I'm looking forward to racing in my own backyard," said Lindsey Vonn, the 31-year-old queen of American ski racing.

"Aspen holds a special place in my heart," said 20-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin.

The two ski racers from Vail will race in a World Cup giant slalom Friday on Aspen Mountain, the first of three days of racing at the 2015 Aspen Winternational.

World Cup slalom races are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, also on the Aspen Mountain course at Lift 1A.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup slalom champion, said she's particularly excited to have two slalom races in Aspen this year.

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In her first year on the World Cup circuit, Aspen was the first place she "made the flip," and advanced to the second run of slalom.

"My first time getting to the second run was here," Shiffrin said at a U.S. Ski Team press conference Thursday evening at the St. Regis Hotel.

She said that as a youngster, the women's giant slalom at Aspen Mountain was her favorite GS race to watch.

Now, she said, it's one of her favorite GS courses to ski.

"The amount of terrain on the hill … it's like a roller coaster," she said of the combination of Spring Pitch, Summer Road and Strawpile on the west side of Aspen Mountain.

She said the Aspen GS course will require aggressive skiing.

"It's one of those hills you have to attack like crazy," said Shiffrin, who has 15 World Cup victories (14 in slalom).

She's also the reigning Olympic slalom champion. And she's a two-time winner in slalom at the world championships.

Vonn, her colleague on the ski team and her idol growing up, has a record 67 World Cup victories.

The four-time overall World Cup champion is coming back from injury and eager to compete.

"I"m really looking forward to the season," said Vonn, who will contend for a fifth overall title as well as an eighth downhill globe.

She said one of the keys to her continued success is the process of setting goals and then trying to achieve those goals.

Her inspiration as a ski racer came from American standout Picabo Street, herself an Olympic gold medalist and world championships gold medalist.

"Lindsey has been carrying the sport for the last few years," Shiffrin said, when asked about the overall World Cup picture for the 2015-26 season.

"I am excited that the overall is even a possibility for me this year," Shiffrin said, quickly adding that "Lindsey is the favorite."

Today's GS will feature the first run at 10 a.m.

The second run will start at 1 p.m., weather and course conditions permitting.

Then, the skiers will prep for the Saturday and Sunday slaloms.

"Aspen is an amazing place to race," Shiffrin said.

Then, in answering another question about the Aspen races, she said: "I think it's possible you will see me on the podium three times."

dstrode@aspentimes.com