The excitement continues in Germany and Switzerland, after the U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team was announced Wednesday.
Olympic gold medalists Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.), Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) and Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) will lead the men and women in a mix of tech and speed events this weekend.
After securing her 79th victory last weekend in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy and sharing the podium with Lindsey Vonn Foundation ambassador Jackie Wiles (Aurora, Ore.), Vonn will lead a group of six women into Lenzerheide starting with an alpine combined rescheduled from St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Shiffrin will sit the alpine combined out to rest and focus on the giant slalom and slalom on Saturday and Sunday. She continues to prove that she’s one of most dominant athletes in the world, showing her strength across disciplines and sharing the podium with teammate Vonn in Cortina for the first time ever last Friday in the downhill.
Shiffrin will go into the weekend with an 843-point lead in the overall race over Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, who is once again healthy and returned to competition in Kronplatz, Italy. She also leads the slalom standings, is second in the giant slalom standings and third in the downhill standings.
In Garmisch, Steven Nyman (Sundance, Utah) will face his demon this weekend on a track where he had a season-ending knee injury last season. Nyman has battled his way back through a grueling rehab process and returned to the Kandahar track two weeks ago to train. After Thursday’s training run, Nyman laughed, “When I came a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to be angry at the net, but I thought ‘Net, you’re fine – you saved my life. I should be mad at the jump!’”
The Kandahar track is dark, menacing and fast, but the American Downhillers had a good start to training on Thursday, led by the strong and consistent Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, Calif.) with the eighth-fastest time. Nyman admits the first training run was rough the entire ride, but will look to dial in some equipment issues in Friday’s training run prior to the downhill on Saturday.
“It’s dense snow with a lot of bumps, and my skis weren’t reacting the way I wanted them to because my boots were too soft,” Nyman recalled. The jump where he crashed last year has not been built up as big, after he and others – including Frenchman Valentin Giraud Moine – sustained season-ending injuries. On Saturday, he’ll find the courage to hurl himself down that track – at speeds of up to 90 mph.
“Fortunately, I got to train here a couple of weeks ago with the German and Swiss, so that allowed me to step back into this area without having to deal with those thoughts today,” Nyman said. “So, I’ve already eliminated potential fear around that, but the biggest thing today was just the vision. It’s dark, which makes the Kandahar so challenging, so you have to really stay in a solid position, continually drive through the bumps and keep pushing.”
The American Downhillers celebrated their naming to the Olympic team in good company with a taste of home during their annual visit to the Garmisch military base, signing autographs for young fans and eating tacos with families at the base. This visit is a highlight of their season and comes at just the right time to reenergize them after the grueling run of chaos and overstimulation in Wengen, Switzerland and Kitzbuehel, Austria.
The American Downhiller crew poses with children at the military base in Garmisch, Germany. (Manuel Dietrich)
On Sunday, Ligety will return to giant slalom after a solid training block in Folgaria, Italy with teammates Vonn and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY). Ligety has yet to land on the podium in the 2018 season but continues to build steadily towards PyeongChang. Austria’s powerhouse Marcel Hirscher – whom Olympic gold has eluded – must be aware that Ligety is about to strike. It’ll be a wild ride the next few weeks. Buckle up on the road to PyeongChang.
Steve Schlanger and U.S. Ski Team alumnus Will Brandenburg will call the action in the coming week. See who to watch and where to catch all the action below.
Alpine Combined, Giant Slalom, Slalom
Downhill, Giant Slalom
*Final starters per event TBD
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Friday, Jan. 26
3:30 a.m. – Women’s alpine combined, super G run; Lenzerheide – Olympic Channel TV (LIVE)
6:15 a.m. – Women’s alpine combined, slalom run; Lenzerheide – Olympic Channel TV (LIVE)
Saturday, Jan. 27
3:45 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom, run 1; Lenzerheide – Olympic Channel TV (LIVE)
7:00 a.m. – Women’s giant slalom; Lenzerheide – NBCSN (LIVE)
5:15 a.m. – Men’s downhill; Garmisch – Olympic Channel TV (LIVE)
8:30 a.m. – Men’s downhill; Garmisch – NBCSN (same day delay)
Sunday, Jan. 28
3:30 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 1; Lenzerheide – olympicchannel.com
4:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 1; Garmisch-Partenkirchen – olympicchannel.com
6:00 a.m. – Women’s slalom, run 2; Lenzerheide – NBCSN
7:30 a.m. – Men’s giant slalom, run 2; Garmisch-Partenkirchen – NBCSN
Men’s Training Run 1
Men's Training Run 2
Women’s Alpine Combined
2018 U.S. OLYMPIC ALPINE SKI TEAM
- Bryce Bennett, Squaw Valley, Calif. (7/14/1992)
- Tommy Biesemeyer, Keene, N.Y. (1/30/1989)
- David Chodounsky, Crested Butte, Colo. (6/25/1984)*
- Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Starksboro, Vt. (3/27/1992)
- Mark Engel, Truckee, Calif. (10/1/1991)
- Tommy Ford, Bend, Ore. (3/20/1989)*
- Jared Goldberg, Holladay, Utah (6/15/1991)*
- Tim Jitloff, Reno, Nev. (1/11/1985)*
- Nolan Kasper, Warren, Vt. (3/27/1989)*
- Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah (8/31/1984)*
- Wiley Maple, Aspen, Colo. (5/25/1990)
- Steven Nyman, Sundance, Utah (2/12/1982)*
- Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, N.Y. (2/10/1986)*
- Stacey Cook, Mammoth Lakes, Calif. (7/3/1984)*
- Breezy Johnson, Victor, Idaho (1/19/1996)
- Megan McJames, Park City, Utah (9/24/1987)*
- Alice McKennis, New Castle, Colo. (8/18/1989)*
- Laurenne Ross, Bend, Ore. (8/17/1988)*
- Mikaela Shiffrin, Eagle-Vail, Colo. (3/13/1995)*
- Resi Stiegler, Jackson, Wyo. (11/14/1985)*
- Lindsey Vonn, Vail, Colo. (10/18/1984)*
- Jackie Wiles, Aurora, Ore. (7/13/1992)*
* Competed in past Olympic