American team set for Friday qualification race in Soelden


American team set for Friday qualification race in SoeldenNine days before the 2005-2006 alpine World Cup season begins, the American teams are in Soelden, Austria, preparing for the first races of the year a pair of giant slaloms, with women racing on Saturday, Oct. 22 and the men following on Sunday, Oct. 23.

By virtue of International Ski Federation rules regarding alpine World Cup start positions, the U.S. Ski Team will be able to start 10 women and seven men. These quotas are based on the team’s recent success at the World Cup and NorAm levels.

On Friday, Oct. 14, both the men’s and women’s teams will conduct time trials to select which athletes will fill a few of the still-open start positions in the season opener. The men will race full-length giant slalom on the Soelden race hill, and the women will follow directly afterwards.

‘It’ll be a very simple time trial, right down the race hill’ said U.S. Ski Team men’s GS/SL coach Mike Morin, reached on his cell phone in the Soelden gondola Thursday. ‘The women will do their run right after ours.’

Trevor Wagner, the U.S. Ski Team’s head women’s GS/SL coach said he wants the prospective starters to experience choppy conditions. ‘That’s more a more realistic example of what they’ll be experiencing in the race’ said Wagner.

In the women’s time trial, four skiers (Kaylin Richardson, Lauren Ross, Libby Ludlow and Stacey Cook) are competing for two remaining spots. In the men’s time trial, three skiers (Ted Ligety, Chip Knight and Tom Rothrock) are competing for two remaining spots.

The top performers in those time trails will join those who have automatically qualified for the race, either through placing themselves in the top 60 worldwide, as well as last year’s NorAm standings.

On the women’s side, these are Julia Mancuso, Sarah Schleper, Kristina Koznick, Caroline Lalive, Lindsey Kildow, Resi Stiegler, Jessica Kelley and Kristen Mielke.

On the men’s team, the automatic starters are Bode Miller, Daron Rahlves, Dane Spencer, Erik Schlopy and Jimmy Cochran.

One member of the U.S. women’s team who was automatically qualified, but will not be present in Soelden, is Kirsten Clark. She was skiing well this summer, but had a series of unexpected knee surgeries in September, and plans to be back on snow in November.

Also on the disabled list – although he wouldn’t have been a qualifier for Soelden – is Bryon Friedman. His broken leg at last year’s Chamonix downhill has required multiple surgeries. He tells Ski Racing he’s staying positive and hoping to be on skis by the end of the winter.

With the American team in Soelden, Austria, now is reigning overall World Cup champion Bode Miller. Some news reports had speculated that Miller would not start at Soelden because of his brother’s recent injury.

‘Bode’s here’ said Morin. ‘His plane got in this morning and he came straight here and made three runs with us in the course.’

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