Double World Champion Lindsey Vonn and two-time Olympic silver medalist Bode Miller join 2006 Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) announced the 2010 Olympic Alpine Ski Team Tuesday (Jan. 26).
USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt, together with the U.S. Olympic Committee and Team partner Visa, announced the roster of 22 athletes to compete in the alpine events at Whistler Creekside north of Vancouver. The team is a mix of nine Olympic veterans and 13 first-timers.
Vonn’s 2008 and 2009 seasons accounted for five World Cup titles and she set numerous ski racing high marks, yet her genuine approachability by fans and media alike have rocketed her to the forefront of Olympic sport, including a recently announced honor as 2009 USOC SportsWoman of the Year. Vonn has won every World Cup downhill this season and currently leads the overall, downhill, super G and super combined points standings.
“With Lindsey, there’s potential in every event,” said women’s Head Coach Jim Tracy. “She’s put in the hard work to make it happen and has proven she can. But the cream of the crop will be there and they all have the same goal. She’s said it better than anyone, if she wins one medal of any color, she’ll be happy. Everything else will be a bonus.”
Joining Vonn and Mancuso in the Olympic spotlight is World Cup winner Sarah Schleper who becomes a four-time Olympian after missing the two seasons directly after the 2006 Games due to injury and the birth of her nearly two-year-old son, Lasse.
“Sarah has achieved a huge goal that a year ago might have been unrealistic,” added Tracy. “But she has a spirit like no other. If you look at the Olympics there’s always someone who comes out of nowhere. It’s exactly what Julia did in 2006 and now Jules has something that a lot of people will never have – an Olympic gold medal.”
Sparked by solid early season finishes in speed events and a January super combined victory in classic Wengen, Switzerland, Miller – also a four-time Olympian and a double silver medalist from 2002 – is poised to charge on North American snow.
Ligety’s big race success began in 2006 when he became the Olympic combined gold medalist. He has since continued the trend with multiple World Cup wins, a World Cup giant slalom title in 2008 and a World Championships giant slalom bronze in 2009.
“As a Team we’re proud of this group of guys,” said men’s Head Coach Sasha Rearick. “It’s an impressive mix of veterans like Ted and Bode, who’ve shown they can perform when it counts. But then we’ve got young guys like Andrew Weibrecht and Tommy Ford who have consistently made progress all winter.”
Rearick noted World Cup veterans Marco Sullivan, Steven Nyman and Jimmy Cochran for putting in the hard work to earn yet another appearance at the Olympic Games. He also praised the Team’s European Training Base in Pagenella-Trentino, Italy for being instrumental in helping prepare his group with perfectly prepared training slopes all season.
“Each one of these guys has put in the work and effort to represent America in Vancouver,” said Rearick. “This staff has done an amazing job day in and day out taking care of all the details to make that happen. We’re a tight family who has been working together for many years and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to inspire Americans about the great sport of ski racing.”
He added, “This is the team I wanted to take to the Olympics and they all managed to get it done.”
Following a series of three World Cup speed races next weekend in St. Moritz, Switzerland, women’s speed will train at their European Base at Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria until Feb. 5 before arriving in Vancouver on Feb. 9, while the tech athletes will prepare in Jackson Hole, Wyom..
On the men’s side two giant slaloms and a slalom are set for Kranjska Gora, Slovenia before both men’s speed and technical groups move into a pre-Olympic camp in Park City, Utah. U.S. men will also arrive on Feb. 9 in time for the first downhill training run set for Feb. 10.
There are a total of five medal events for each gender with downhill, super G, super combined, giant slalom and slalom all on the Olympic calendar.
The Team is subject to final review by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
2010 U.S. OLYMPIC ALPINE SKI TEAM
(name, hometown, age as of opening ceremonies, birthdate, (past Olympics))
Will Brandenburg, Spokane, Wash., 23, 1/1/87
Jimmy Cochran, Keene, NH., 28, 5/29/81 (2006)
Erik Fisher, Middleton, Idaho, 24, 3/21/1985
Tommy Ford, Bend, Ore., 20, 3/20/89
Tim Jitloff, Reno, Nev., 25, 1/11/1985
Nolan Kasper, Warren, Vt., 20, 3/27/89
Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah, 25, 8/31/84 (2006)
Bode Miller, Franconia, NH., 32, 10/12/77 (1998, 2002, 2006)
Steven Nyman, Sundance, Utah, 28, 2/12/82 (2006)
Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, Calif., 29, 4/27/80 (2002, 2006)
Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY., 24, 2/10/86
Jake Zamansky, Aspen, Colo., 28, 6/26/81
Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, Calif., 25, 7/3/84 (2006)
Hailey Duke, Boise, Idaho, 24, 9/17/85
Julia Mancuso, Olympic Valley, Calif., 25, 3/9/84 (2002, 2006)
Chelsea Marshall, Pittsfield, Vt., 27, 11/15/82
Megan McJames, Park City, Utah, 22, 9/24/87
Alice McKennis, Glenwood Springs, Colo., 20, 8/19/89
Kaylin Richardson, Edina, Minn., 25, 9/28/1984
Sarah Schleper, Vail, Colo., 30, 2/19/79 (1998, 2002, 2006)
Leanne Smith, Conway, NH., 22, 5/28/87
Lindsey Vonn, Vail, Colo. 25, 10/18/84 (2002, 2006)
Photos of Vonn and Miller by GEPA