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U.S. Ski & Snowboard Having A Successful Early Season

Reese Brown
US SKi & Snowboard

World Cup events in Ski and Snowboard are in full swing, KPCW has a recap of the how the U.S. winter athletes did over Thanksgiving weekend.

The U.S. Women’s Alpine team competed in Killington Vermont over the weekend. U.S. Ski and Snowboard Director of Communications, Tom Webb says that Mikaela Shiffrin lead the way.

“Over 30,000 people over the weekend turning out to watch the fantastic action." Webb cotinued, "Mikaela Shiffrin’s third win in a row there in the slalom. She was fourth on Saturday but that didn’t dampen any of the enthusiasm.”

Shiffrin finished first in the slalom and fourth in the GS. Two other US skiers placed in the slalom race, Paula Moltzan finished 17th and Nina O'Brien finished 23rd. Webb says that although the crowd is smaller in Vermont, the atmosphere rivals the larger turnouts in Europe.

“Every single athlete that comes down the mountain is getting the same volume of cheers." Webb explained, "All of the athletes talk about what an amazing atmosphere it is and that’s generated by some incredibly passionate people who stand out there for hours on end ringing their cowbells and cheering loudly for everybody. So maybe the numbers are slightly less but the atmosphere is definitely right up there.”

Meanwhile the US Men’s Alpine team spent the weekend competing at Lake Louise in Canada.

“Our men had an extremely good start to the season, to see Steve Nyman and Bryce Bennett both breaking into the top 20 that was something spectacular." Webb said, "Then follow that with Ryan Cochran-Siegle’s result 12th on Sunday that was even better. RCS, a lot of the people in the team have looked at him and said he is in really good form. As we head to Beaver Creek this coming weekend, for the second world cup event on U.S. soil. Hopefully the crowds that are going to come out to Beaver Creek are going to have something really amazing to cheer for."

Ted Ligety did not compete in Lake Louise over the weekend. Meanwhile Sadie Bjornsen lead the way for the US Cross Country team finishing 8th at the World Cup event in Ruka, Finland over the weekend.

“That team is looking at the world championships that are in February." Webb continued, "With the amount of physical energy that is expended in cross-country skiing it is not just about outright performance it’s about managing your performance levels. So, I think while maybe the results for the whole team aren’t quite matching those that for example, Mikaela’s registering, I think they have a very clear plan of where they want to expend those energy levels. They’re building up and very firmly looking towards those World Championships in February.”

Lindsey Vonn had an accident training at Copper Mountain which has ruled her out for this week’s race, but Webb says the injury should not prevent her from competing the rest of the year.

“She announced after her injury that she wouldn’t be able to make Lake Louise but she’s already posting images on Instagram of her training very hard and getting back to it." Webb concluded, "So, no she’s not out for the season, she’s just out for that Lake Lindsey event.”

Vonn has said she will retire at the end of this year, the legendary ski racer is just 4 world cup wins behind Ingemar Stenmark, the Swedish skier who holds the all-time record for world cup wins at 86. Meanwhile 23-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin has 45 world cup wins and is on pace to break the record if she can remain healthy.

“I do think that’s one of the things that she’s been remarkably good at." Webb explained, "She trains as hard as any athlete I’ve ever worked with anywhere in the world. If not harder. She obviously has bags of natural talent that are enabling her to do something which is truly extraordinary. I think it’s worth bearing in mind that she is obviously incredibly good at slalom and at giant slalom, but she’s headed straight to Lake Louise now for the speed events there. She was asked at an event last year whether or not she is ultimately a speed racer and she had this kind of wry smile on her face and said ‘yeah, I am.’ Last year she won the Lake Louise women’s downhill event, who knows if she’ll be able to register the same performance this year. She really is an extraordinary athlete that is transcending her sport.”

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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