Huge crowds turned out for the official naming of the 2014-15 U.S. Alpine Ski Team at the Nature Valley First Tracks celebration in Copper Mountain. (USSA-Sarah Brunson)
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Nov. 8) – The sun was shining down on Center Village today where a huge crowd congregated for the 2015 U.S. Alpine Ski Team to be introduced during Nature Valley First Tracks at Copper Mountain. The energy at Copper Mountain, home of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center, was palpable. Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) and Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) were on hand as 42 athletes were named during a public celebration to kick off the start of the 2015 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup and Vail/Beaver Creek 2015 World Championships winter.
The 2015 U.S. Alpine Ski team was publicly introduced on Nov. 8 during Nature Valley First Tracks, a public celebration at Copper Mountain, CO – home of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center.
Olympic medalists Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO), Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) were among 35 athletes named to the 2015 A, B and C Team, with another seven to the Development team. The 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships team will be announced on January 27.
The team is coming off a five-medal Olympics, with both Ligety and Shiffrin winning Audi FIS Alpine World Cup titles.
Vonn is making a return after an injury at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming took her out of action. She is expecting to start with World Cup speed events Dec. 5-7 in Lake Louise, where she has won 14 times.
Despite challenging early season conditions, the team at Copper Mountain has provided early season training for the U.S. Ski Team since November 1 in preparation for the upcoming season.
Copper Mountain is home to the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center which, when open, provides U.S. skiers with an Audi FIS Alpine World Cup level training course.
The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup swings through America Nov.29-Dec.1 with a women’s giant slalom and slalom followed by men’s downhill, super G and giant slalom Dec. 5-7 at Beaver Creek, CO – host of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Patrick Riml, Alpine Director
It’s important for us to have a strong U.S. Ski Team as we host the World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek this season. With Lindsey Vonn’s anticipated return, we will enter the season with six Olympic medalists. We’re also anxious to see the progress anticipated from younger team members this season. Opening with World Cups in Aspen and Beaver Creek will give us a chance to showcase our Team here in America leading up to the World Championships in February.
My cloud goal would be to do what I did in Schladming again. That’s not super-easy, it hadn’t been done 45 years before I did it, so that’s definitely a little bit of a stretch maybe. But, I think the hills at Beaver Creek do match up really well for me. The super G hill is a hill that is really good for me. I think the downhill is a really good downhill trail for me as well, as far getting close in the combined, and then I’ve had a ton of success there in the giant slalom. The main goal is to try to win that giant slalom title again, and I still feel like I have a good chance of medals in those other disciplines as well.
My knee is doing really well. Training has been going extremely well. I don’t have any pain or swelling, so that’s definitely a lot better than I had actually anticipated. My goal is still to start racing in Lake Louise. To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting GS to be coming along as quickly as it has. I definitely have to ski on some different snow conditions, some injections and see where I stand. But if things continue to go as they are now, then I think I need to reconsider my schedule for the season and possibly start skiing GS earlier than I had expected. I am leaving everything open, but it is not likely that I will be racing in Aspen.
My prep period wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but it was sufficient given that I had a year last year on the new equipment. Nothing really changed, so I can race on all of my stuff from last year with some additions of new stuff I’ve changed. So I’m in a much better position than I was entering last year, and really by the time last year got going I felt pretty good.
It’s pretty spectacular to get my first GS win of my career. To do it the first race of the season was even better because I definitely have more confidence going into the season now.
[Speaking of Vail/Beaver Creek 2015 World Championships]
The Birds of Prey GS hill is my favorite GS hill ever. I’ve gotten to forerun the men’s race there a couple of times and I just feel like that hill was built for GS. It has pitches, it has flats, it has knolls – it’s always amazing snow. Somehow they get the snow to be just perfect, like that hero snow that I love and I think every racer loves but a little bit more firm so it’s not as aggressive and your skis don’t feel like they’re catching. So, you can just turn your mind off and let your skis do the work, and I absolutely love it. I’m really psyched to ski that hill.
[Speaking of the Nature Valley First Tracks Event]
Each year the crowd at the team naming seems to get bigger and bigger, with more enthusiastic ski fans. This year we are gonna need all the support we can get with World Champs on home soil, so it’s pretty spectacular to already be feeling that support in November. Sometimes I feel disconnected with the rest of the ski world, and events like First Tracks at Copper make me feel more connected — I’m ready for the season, and it’s so awesome to see that everyone else is too!