As fall begins to wind down U.S. Winter Athletes are preparing for the beginning of their respective seasons. KPCW spoke with U.S. Ski and Snowboard ahead of the 2018/19 season.
Alpine Skiers are opening their season in Soelden Austria on October 27th. U.S. Ski and Snowboard Director of Marketing and Communications Tom Webb previews the event.
“Our athletes, while they are focused on Olympics they have three years and 49 and a half weeks of other competitions that they take part in.” Webb explained, “This coming weekend we have Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety leading the charge down there in Soelden. NBC has just announced a new package that means you can watch every single alpine event on a thing called ‘NBC Sports Gold’ they’ve launched ‘Snow Pass’ so fans of ski racing are going to be able to watch every single event that’s taking place this season. That World Cup event there in Soelden the atmosphere is absolutely electric. I think that’s a real sign of just how important those athletes are to fans. When you see the reaction that Mikaela and Ted and those guys get when they’re in that hot bed of ski racing, they are true super stars.”
Webb says that Ligety will be ready to go this weekend in Austria.
“Ted, Mr. G.S., he’s one of the legends of the sport." Webb said of Ligety, "He’s won multiple times in Soelden. I think Ted is keen to get a foot forward back into this season and re-establish himself right up there at the top of that tree. He’s been working out very hard in the COE at the Center of Excellence. He’s healthy and has had a very good summer and is looking forward it and ready for action.”
Webb also spoke about Shiffrin and her dominance.
“Mikaela Shiffrin, obviously one of the great superstars of world sports." Webb continued, "A journalist said to me a while ago, ‘Do you think she’s the most dominant athlete on the planet?’ and I think that’s an interesting point. Her ability to be able to switch from tech to speed racing is similar to for example, if Usain Bolt was to win the 100 meters or the 200 meters and then switch up and win the 1500 meters people would say that is astounding. So what Mikaela has done is astounding. She’s also had a very busy summer but a very relaxed summer. I think anybody who follows her on social media will see that maybe she’s starting to come out of herself a little bit in a really positive way. She’s very much up for the weekend in Soelden and for the season ahead.”
Skiing legend Lindsey Vonn announced that this will be her final year racing, she is just 5 World Cup wins away from breaking the all-time record for career World Cup wins.
“I think if anybody’s going to have a chance at winning five World Cup events this season it is Lindsey." Webb explained, "She is a true legend of the sport and an icon of world sport. She’s got five World Cup wins to overtake that Stenmark record which has stood now for nearly 30 years. She will be in action up in Lake Louise known as Lake Lindsey because she is so successful there. Again, everybody who is around her and you can tell if you follow her Instagram or her Twitter you can see just how positive and how up for it she is.”
Jessie Diggins along with the entire U.S. cross-country skiing team recently trained in Park City at a preseason camp.
“Jessie and the whole cross-country team were here to do some preseason camp here at the Center of Excellence." Webb said, "Jessie again, is another one of those athletes who really stepped into the limelight in PyeongChang. An incredible superstar in her own sport but now somebody who frankly can’t walk down the street without being recognized. I’ve got the privilege of spending a little bit of time with her in a couple of days in New York ahead of our New York Gold Medal Gala. I know that she’s very excited about the season ahead in particular on the back of the fact that we just announced that we’ll be doing a World Cup cross-country in her home state of Minnesota in March 2020. That is a massive change in the policy of the International Ski Federation who have grasped the opportunity to showcase the sport to a world-wide audience here in the USA. Jessie is extremely excited about that but very firmly focused on the season ahead.”