No Bode, but plenty of depth for U.S. Ski Team
With 11-year veteran and former World Cup overall champion Bode Miller opting to race as an independent, the U.S. Ski Team is looking to its young stars to fill the void left by its most talented skier.
The alpine team announced its roster Monday – a group of 54 men and women that includes 15 Olympians, including Turin Winter Games gold medalists Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety.Mancuso, of Olympic Valley, Calif., and Vail’s Lindsey Kildow headline a deep women’s team that appears primed to compete for podium spots in Aspen when the World Cup circuit arrives Dec. 7-9 for a downhill, a super G and a slalom. The women’s downhill will be the first here since 1988 – and marks the 40th anniversary of the first women’s downhill in Aspen.Last season, Mancuso produced the finest result for a U.S. woman since 1984, finishing third in the World Cup overall after recording her first four career victories. She also collected another Worlds medal – the third of her career, this one silver in super combined – at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Åre, Sweden, and was named U.S. Alpine Skier of the Year by Ski Racing magazine. Kildow added three World Cup victories (seven in her career) and earned the silver medal in downhill and super G at Worlds before a knee injury shortened her 2007 season by a month.
Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety, of Park City, Utah, and first-time World Cup winner Steven Nyman, of Provo, Utah, are the most notable skiers on the men’s team in the wake of Miller’s departure.Nyman earned his first World Cup podium at the Birds of Prey races at Beaver Creek in December, then won his first race two weeks later when he captured the downhill in Val Gardena, Italy. Despite starting the season with a broken hand, Ligety had two more World Cup podiums and finished with two U.S. championships for the third straight season.”This team is loaded with talent, from our top athletes that have had Olympic, World Championship and World Cup success to the up-and-coming athletes that have been successful at the Europa Cup and NorAm levels and are ready to take a step up,” said alpine director Jesse Hunt in a team press release. “This is a team – on both the men’s and women’s side – that has shown the potential to reach our goal of winning at every level.”
The team named Aspen’s Jake Zamansky, a graduate of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club who had six World Cup starts last season, to its men’s B team. Zamansky’s best World Cup result last season was a 44th in a super G at Val Gardena. He had better results on the NorAm Cup circuit – just below the World Cup – including a bronze in a giant slalom at Keystone in November.Both men’s and women’s teams, now in the midst of their summer training, will kick off the World Cup season in October in Soelden, Austria. Before the women arrive in Aspen, the men’s circuit will stop for four races on the Birds of Prey course at Beaver Creek, Nov. 29-Dec. 2. The U.S. also will host the NorAm Finals, March 13-16, at Whiteface Mountain, outside Lake Placid, N.Y.”U.S. skiers took 11 of the 12 NorAm titles last winter, and with the top two skiers in each discipline [slalom, GS, super G and downhill] earning automatic World Cup starts, that provides a great opportunity for our young skiers to gain valuable experience,” Hunt said. “They’ll get a chance to see what the World Cup is, see how they can find their place in the top level of their sport and keep working their way toward the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.”
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In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Beaver Creek and Birds of Prey hosted the 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships. It feels like it’s been five years since March and the outbreak of COVID-19.