U.S. Ski Team names 19 athletes to alpine world championships team


U.S. Ski Team names 19 athletes to alpine world championships team{mosimage}PARK CITY, Utah (Jan. 24) – The U.S. Ski Team will send 19 athletes, including World Cup leader Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) and 12 other Olympians, to race in the World Alpine Ski Championships, which begin Saturday in Bormio, Italy, U.S. Alpine Director Jesse Hunt announced.

Final selection was made after the conclusion of World Cup races Sunday in Europe. The group includes 10 men and nine women; 12 of the skiers raced in the 2003 Worlds, including all four U.S. medalists from the championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, when the Ski Team collected a USA-record six medals. The four – Miller (gold in giant slalom and combined, silver in super G), Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT – GS bronze), Kirsten Clark (Raymond, ME – super G silver) and Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA – super G bronze).

Named to the 2005 World Championships (* – designates 2003 Worlds skier):

Men: Ted Ligety (20; Park City, UT); Bode Miller* (27; Franconia, NH; 1998, 2002 Olympian); Daron Rahlves* (31; Sugar Bowl, CA; 1998, 2002 Olympian); Tom Rothrock* (26; Cashmere, WA; 2002 Olympian); Erik Schlopy* (32; Park City, UT; 1994, 2002 Olympian); Dane Spencer* (27; Boise, ID; 2002 Olympian); Jimmy Cochran (23; Keene, NH); Scott Macartney (27; Redmond, WA; 2002 Olympian), J.J. Johnson (27; Park City, Utah); and Steve Nyman (22; Orem, UT).

Women: Kirsten Clark* (27; Raymond, ME; 1998, 2002 Olympian); Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO; 2002 Olympian); Kristina Koznick* (29; Eagan, MN; 1998, 2002 Olympian); Caroline Lalive* (25; Steamboat Springs, CO; 1998, 2002 Olympian); Julia Mancuso* (20; Olympic Valley, CA; 2002 Olympian); Bryna McCarty (21; Concord, VT); Jonna Mendes* (25; Heavenly, CA; 1998, 2002 Olympian); Sarah Schleper* (25; Vail, CO; 1998, 2002 Olympian); Resi Stiegler* (19; Jackson Hole, WY).

Starting slots in each of the five events – plus the new-this-year team event – have not been finalized, but with objective criteria for Worlds selection based on top results in choosing the top two skiers in each event, Hunt said the tentative lineup looked like this for Bormio and the women’s events in Santa Caterina (maximum four athletes per event plus a fifth in men’s GS because Miller is the defending champion):

Men
Super G (Jan. 29) – Miller, Rahlves, TBD, TBD
Combined (DH/SL – Feb. 3) – Miller, TBD
Downhill (Feb. 5) – Miller, Rahlves, TBD, TBD
Giant Slalom (Feb. 9) – Miller (Defending champion, extra start),
Rahlves, Schlopy, TBD, TBD
Slalom (Feb. 12) – Miller, Rothrock, TBD, TBD

Women
Super G (Jan. 30) – Kildow, Lalive, TBD, TBD
Combined (DH/SL – Feb. 4) – Kildow, Mancuso, TBD
Downhill (Feb. 6) – Kildow, Lalive, TBD, TBD
Giant Slalom (Feb. 8) – Kildow, Mancuso, TBD, TBD
Slalom (Feb. 11) – Koznick, Schleper, TBD, TBD

Team (New this year) – TBD

“We’ll have athletes skiing multiple events,” Hunt said. “We’ve had a multi-discipline development philosophy over the past six years and now we are beginning to see the outcome. This team is highlighted with a number of athletes who will compete in multiple events. In addition, we will be very competitive in combined across both genders.”

While Miller and Rahlves have been headliners for a couple of seasons – “and with good reason,” Hunt said, he added he was excited about the growing depth of the women’s program, highlighted by the breakthrough season for Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO), who won the opening downhill of the winter and has produced six top-3 results, and the continued emergence of Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA), who has scored World Cup top-10s in all four disciplines, including top-5s in giant slalom and super G. (Kildow also has scored in all four events, giving the U.S. Ski Team two of the seven women to score World Cup points in every discipline this season.) In addition, veteran Kristina Koznick (Eagan, MN) has produced three podiums in slalom.

“We’ve got high expectations for this World Championships Team: eight medals,” Hunt said. “We got six in 2003 and now the goal is eight this year. If we’re going to be ‘Best in the World!’ next year at the Olympics – and we are, we want to make another big step forward this season, and these athletes can do it. We’ve got all four medalists back from two years ago, we’ve got outstanding up-and-coming athletes…and we clearly have the talent to reach that goal.”

Hunt said Bryon Friedman (Park City, UT), who had a pair of seventh-place results before breaking a leg in a training crash that ended his season, would have been named to the World Championships Team except for the injury. “‘Freedog’ had a great season going and we’ll miss him,” the director said, “but we know he’s with us in spirit.”

Americans have found success in Bormio. Rahlves won the 2003 men’s World Cup downhill in Bormio and was third in a second DH. Miller also has been on a Bormio podium, finishing second in the ’03 slalom. Erik Schlopy’s first World Cup podium came at the Italian resort when he was second in a GS in 2001. U.S. women raced in Santa Caterina earlier this month and Kildow was second and fourth in two downhills while Lalive had a pair of top-10s, Koznick was second in a slalom, and Mancuso fourth – her best World Cup result – in GS.

At the 1985 World Championships in Bormio, U.S. skiers won four medals – GS gold by Diann Roffe, downhill bronze by Doug Lewis, GS bronze by Eva Twardokens and combined bronze by Tamara McKinney.

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