Archive for the ‘US Ski Team’ Category

Ligety Skis to Victory, With Party Included

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

By Brian Pinelli
Published: December 23, 2011

ANDALO, Italy — With the towering and jagged limestone peaks of Italy’s western Dolomites as a spectacular backdrop, the bottom of the race course at Paganella Ski Area quickly morphed into a high energy rock concert on Friday. It was a festive yet slightly chaotic atmosphere in a typically serene region of natural wonder.

Less than an hour before, Ted Ligety had demonstrated that he was the master of the giant slalom, carving near perfect turns en route to a thrilling victory at the VPAY Alpine Rockfest. Ligety was the fastest of five skiers in the final round of this unusual race, which consists of five elimination rounds on a 400-meter sprint giant slalom course.

Ligety’s winning time of 34.73 seconds was only one-hundredth better than that of the young Italian Giovanni Borsotti.

“To come down and see yourself one-hundredth ahead, it was a relief for sure,” Ligety said. “Standing in the start gate, there is a lot of pressure knowing how fast you’ve already been and being the favorite also,” he said, referring to the semifinal, when he was more than five-tenths quicker than his nearest challenger, Borsotti.

Ligety, a 27-year-old from Park City, Utah, was awarded a check for 60,000 euros — a winner-take-all grand prize of more than $78,000 — as the Italian rock band Radiottanta played. Read More

Is America the New Austria?

Thursday, December 8th, 2011
As U.S. Skiers Win Races and Ink Deals, the Sport’s Royal Power Frets; ‘All the Kids Love Bode’

By MATTHEW FUTTERMAN

The Wall Street Journal

Something strange is happening up in the snow-crusted mountains of Europe and North America. A group of U.S. skiers is trying to execute a takeover of Austria’s national sport.

After hauling in two gold, three silver and three bronze medals in Vancouver last year, the U.S. Alpine ski team has continued to make the Austrians, the sport’s still-reigning superpower, look about as dangerous as two cups of spätzle.

American Ted Ligety won his second World Cup race of the season Tuesday, beating Austrian Marcel Hirscher in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek, Colo., by a hefty margin of 0.69 seconds. Wednesday, when three-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn races, she’ll be attempting to win her fourth straight Alpine event.

[VonnIllo] In a photo illustration, three-time overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn is depicted in a traditional dirndl. Vonn attempts to win her fourth straight Alpine race Wednesday. 

The wins have moved the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association considerably closer to a goal that, when first set in 1997, seemed like a fairy tale: to produce the best Alpine team in the world. “I don’t know that I ever expected us to be this good,” said Luke Bodensteiner, vice president for athletics at the USSA, who has been with the organization for 14 years.

“You train with them and compare times and if you’ve come out ahead you know you’re in good shape,” Mathias Berthold, coach of the Austrian men’s team said of the U.S. skiers. “They’re coming on strong.”

Last weekend at an event in Lake Louise, Alberta, Vonn raced as though the rest of the field had waxed its skis with peanut butter. Vonn, who recently announced she will divorce her husband and longtime coach, Thomas Vonn, skied as though she had not a care in the world, winning her downhill races by an absurd 1.95 seconds Friday and 1.68 seconds Saturday—the equivalent of about 40-50 meters. Then she took the Super G race Sunday by 0.19 seconds.

“The U.S. has always had Olympic champions but not skiers that have won consistently as they do now,” said Herbert Mandl, who coaches the Austrian women’s Alpine team. “They have made the big effort.”

Alexandra Meissnitzer, a former Austrian World Cup champion said Austrians now envy the less-rigid U.S. approach. “We see them as super-cool because they look like they’re having so much fun,” Meissnitzer said. “With the Americans, it comes from the heart.”

The U.S. has produced world class skiers before, but never has it produced so many skiers who consistently land on the podiums at World Cup events. There’s also a pipeline in place with a group of young skiers who are on the verge of breaking into the sport’s top tier in the coming years. “It becomes easier to reach a higher level when you already have a road map to get there,” said Ligety, who is the defending World Cup giant slalom champion.

It should be noted that the Austrian and the Swiss teams have a depth that the U.S. hasn’t been able to match—but that, too, seems to be changing.

You’ve likely heard of Vonn and Ligety, as well as three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso and, of course, Bode Miller, the winner of 33 World Cup races. The U.S. team also now includes emerging talents like Nolan Kasper, 22, who became the first American since 1989 to win a title in the Europa Cup, ski racing’s second tier. Another American, 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin is already ranked higher than Vonn and Mancuso were at her age.

The evolution of the U.S. success—and the fading hegemony of Europe—is as much about culture as results. American skiers are becoming viewed, by many, as the marquee faces of the sport.

A promotional poster for the season’s opening event in Soelden, Austria, for instance, featured the mug of a single skier, Bode Miller. “All the kids love Bode—he’s a little different,” Berthold said of Miller, the sport’s risk-taking iconoclast.

In another surprise, the U.S team recently signed a sponsorship deal with the tourism bureau of the Otzal Valley in the heart of Austrian ski country. The multi-year deal, which according to USSA chief revenue and marketing officer Andrew Judelson includes a “significant cash component,” gives the team a winter home that includes housing, training facilities and easy access to top World Cup tour stops. Several top European consumer brands, most notably Audi, have signed as sponsors.

Investment in facilities is also helping move the sport’s center of gravity closer to the U.S.

Earlier this year, the top European skiers descended on Copper Mountain in Colorado, where the U.S. team recently opened a $4.3 million speed skiing training center. The facility offers the only slope of its caliber nearly guaranteed to have quality snow so early in the season.

Of course, the U.S. team has gotten plenty of help from the old empire. “They hired all our coaches,” Mandl said with a laugh. Indeed, Austrian Patrick Rimi, is U.S. skiing’s Alpine director. Austrian Alex Hoedlmoser is the women’s head coach. Austrian Roland Pfeifer is the women’s technical expert.

Money has helped, too. The USSA raised $60 million during the past decade to build its training center in Park City, Utah. Thanks to a 70-member board of trustees that includes some of the country’s wealthiest citizens, the organization has an endowment that has grown by about $10 million the past five years to nearly $40 million. Since 1997 the USSA has added about 17 full-time conditioning coaches, physiologists, nutritionists and psychologists, developed a training plan it shares with hundreds of junior clubs and started concentrating its spending on the top performers.

Mancuso said she feels the U.S. skiers are already the best in the world technically. “I feel like having five of the top 10 skiers in the world is definitely possible for this team,” she said. “It’s all confidence at this level, and sometimes with the European skiers they just have another gear that some of our skiers may not have yet.”

Nickelodeon’s Eighth Annual Worldwide Day of Play to Combine With First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Campaign and The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition in Its Biggest Celebration of Play Ever, Live From Washington, D.C.’s Ellipse Saturday, September 24

Monday, September 12th, 2011

First Lady Featured in Exclusive Event PSA Debuting on Sept. 3

NEW YORK, Sept. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ – Nickelodeon is joining with the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition to bring for the first time its flagship Worldwide Day of Play (WWDOP) event to the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., for the biggest celebration of active play in the eight-year history of the initiative.  On Saturday, Sept. 24, Nickelodeon and its partners will host an entire day of activities and games for kids and their families to encourage active and healthy lifestyles.  Additionally, as it has for the past seven years, Nickelodeon’s networks and websites will go dark from 12 to 3 p.m. (all times ET/PT) as a signal to kids and families to get up and get active.

“Kids need to get moving every day to grow up healthy and strong,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Whether it’s hoola hooping, kicking around a soccer ball or – yes – double dutching, playing is the perfect way to keep active, stay healthy and have fun.”

“First Lady Michelle Obama and the President’s Council have shown admirable leadership in raising awareness about the importance of kids and families living healthier and more active lifestyles,” added Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, Nickelodeon.  “We share the same passion for that message, and at Nick we hope to continue to inspire action through Worldwide Day of Play and The Big Help.”

In the weeks leading up to WWDOP, First Lady Michelle Obama will be featured in an exclusive PSA to raise awareness for the event and the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) Challenge.  In the spot, speaking from the White House lawn, Mrs. Obama encourages kids to get active an hour a day to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award and asks families to celebrate at Nickelodeon’s WWDOP with her in Washington, D.C.  The spot, which bows on Nickelodeon and its digital networks (TeenNick, Nicktoons and Nick Jr.) on Sept. 3, also features the First Lady jumping double dutch with D.C.-area kids to highlight the importance of play.

Kids in every state across the U.S. and in 12 countries worldwide are expected to participate in Nickelodeon’s WWDOP at the more than 3,000 local events anticipated.  Launched in 2002, WWDOP is part of Nickelodeon’s The Big Help health and wellness efforts, which include grants programs, public service announcements, websites, games and more.  Millions of kids have participated in WWDOP and Nickelodeon’s other initiatives that promote healthier lifestyles.  The Big Help campaign is a kid-led movement for positive change that focuses on four key issues: the environment, education, health and wellness and community service. For more information about Nickelodeon’s WWDOP, visit http://www.nick.com/thebighelp/road-to-wwdop.html.  Click on resources for WWDOP event planning materials.

Nickelodeon, now in its 32nd year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 16 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com.  Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B).  

SOURCE Nickelodeon

IOC Adds New Events for 2014 Olympics: Slopestyle Skiing, Slopestyle Snowboarding & Snowboarding Parallel Slalom

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

DURBAN, South Africa (July 4) – Officials of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association acknowledged the International Olympic Committee for its progressive decision Monday to add three more events to the Olympic Winter Games in 2014 including slopestyle skiing, slopestyle snowboarding and snowboarding parallel slalom. The addition of events in snowboarding and freeskiing were cited by the USSA as being directly connected to what youth are doing worldwide today in the sport.

In April, the IOC had approved halfpipe skiing along with women’s ski jumping.

“The IOC’s decision to add slopestyle to the Olympics recognizes the millions of youth who are already participating in the sport in terrain parks around the world,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. “It will have a very positive impact on the sport including our U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing programs.”

Slopestyle consists of a series of judged tricks down a long course of man-made features including rails, boxes and jumps. It’s an integral part of terrain parks at resorts worldwide with millions of youth already engaged in the sport both in skiing and snowboarding.

The addition of the three for both men and women brings the total of nine new medal events/genders added by the IOC this year for skiing and snowboarding under the International Ski Federation. The USSA played a key role with the FIS on the new freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, along with snowboarding slopestyle, giving skiing and snowboarding 50% of the Winter Olympic events.

“It’s gratifying to see the modernism shown by the IOC in bringing in so many new events to better showcase the excitement of skiing and snowboarding as action sports to the world,” added Marolt.

Athletes globally reacted favorably that the sport they evolved has been recognized for inclusion in the world’s biggest sporting event.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the IOC’s decision, said Tom Wallisch (Pittsburgh, PA), one of the world’s most noted slopestyle athletes. “I’ve always dreamt of skiing for the USA at the Olympics, and now we finally have the opportunity. This is a huge moment for our sport.”

The same was true of snowboarders, who like freeskiers have been showcasing their sport for years at events like the X Games and the U.S. Grand Prix.

“I am so stoked that slopestyle will be included in the next Olympic Games,” said three-time X Games women’s gold medalist Jamie Anderson (S. Lake Tahoe, CA).  “Slopestyle is such a progressive event and has become much more popular over the last few years. Nothing thrills me more than to see the sport that I love so much recognized on the world’s stage.”

“It is so great to finally hear that slopestyle will be included in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games,” added Chas Guldemond (Reno, NV), one of the biggest stars in the sport and one of the top-ranked Americans. “It is an honor that the IOC feels our sport is worthy and I cannot wait to be able to try my best to bring home a medal for my country. The Olympic Games are the ultimate dream for any athlete. I know that the viewers will not be disappointed with the show that we will put on for them in 2014. This is history in the making for our sport and I am stoked to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”

The USSA took an active position within the FIS to push for inclusion of freeskiing events of halfpipe and slopestyle, plus slopestyle snowboarding. This past February, the USSA stepped in to help support the inclusion of slopestyle and halfpipe skiing into the FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. Those events were pivotal in showcasing the sport of freeskiing to the IOC. The IOC’s Executive Committee had given its President Jacques Rogge the power to add the new events based on successful World Championships. Athletes competing at the World Championships took a leadership role in showing the IOC the high level of athletic ability that had grown up with the sport.

The U.S. had a strong performance in slopestyle skiing at the World Championships. Teen Alex Schlopy (Park City, UT) took gold, with Sammy Carlson (Hood River, OR) silver and Keri Herman (Breckenridge, CO) bronze in women’s.

“Slopestyle skiing and snowboarding are already bringing scale to our industry worldwide,” said the USSA’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson. “The IOC’s recognition of slopestyle is great for our sport and partners like The North Face in freeskiing and Burton in snowboarding who have also seen the youthful interest in the sports. We look forward to leveraging these new Olympic disciplines to engage consumers, drive growth and fund our athletes Olympic dreams.”

The USSA and U.S. Olympic Committee will determine a selection process to ultimately name the team for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

Julia Mancuso Wins Final Downhill, Lindsey Vonn Regains Overall Lead in World Cup Standings

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (March 16) – Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) topped the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals downhill podium Wednesday in Lenzerheide for her first World Cup downhill victory in four seasons. Teammate Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) was fourth to regain the World Cup overall lead from Germany’s Maria Riesch for the first time since Dec. 27 as Riesch finished outside the points in 17th. The victory hoisted Mancuso to third in the final downhill standings and to fifth in the overall chase with just three races remaining. Mancuso and other members of the World Cup field have pledged to donate 50 percent of their winnings this week to the Japanese earthquake relief effort.

OFFICIAL RESULTS
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals
Lenzerheide, Switzerland – March 16. 2011

Downhill
1. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:27.50
2. Lara Gut, Switzerland, 1:28.31
3. Elisabeth Goergl, Austria, 1:28.65
4. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1:28.88
9. Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CO, 1:29.75
16. Leanne Smith, Conway, NH, 1:30.62

For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=AL&raceid=62358

World Cup Final DownhillStandings
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 657
2. Maria Riesch, Germany, 457
3. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 367

Current World Cup Overall Standings
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO, 1,705
2. Maria Riesch, Germany, 1,678
3. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1,039

For complete standings: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/disciplines/alpineskiing/cupstandings.html
COMPETITION QUOTES
Julia Mancuso
“I knew I had to push really hard because I wanted to win. Opportunities like this don’t come around all the time and I took advantage of it.”

Lindsey Vonn
“I’m proud to be in the finals and still be in the hunt considering I was down 200 points only a few weeks ago. No matter what happens this has been one of the most exciting seasons and I’m really happy with the way I skied. I congratulate Maria as well she’s had an amazing season. We’ll see how this week goes and who comes out on top.”

Lindsey Vonn Clinches Career 10th World Cup Title

Friday, March 4th, 2011

TARVISIO, Italy (March 4) – Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) secured the 10th Audi FIS Alpine World Cup title of her career Friday by holding off a surging Tina Maze of Slovenia to snatch her second straight super combined title. Maze won the race, yet missed the crystal globe by a narrow eight points as Riesch finished third on the day and in the season-long super combined standings. Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) was sixth, Leanne Smith (Conway, NH) ninth, Laurenne Ross (Klamath Falls, OR) 19th and Stacey Cook 20th as all U.S. Ski Team starters finished inside the top 20. A downhill is scheduled for Saturday with Vonn leading those standings by 103 points over Riesch.

OFFICIAL RESULTS,  Audi FIS Alpine World Cup, Tarvisio, Italy – March 4, 2011

Super Combined

1. Tina Maze, Slovenia; 2:13.54�
2. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO; 2:13.72
3. Maria Riesch, Germany;  2:14.09

6. Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA, 2:15.41
9. Leanne Smith, Conway, NH, 2:16.42
19. Laurenne Ross, Klamath Falls, OR, 2:17.20
20. Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CA, 2:17.22

For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/1228.html?cal_suchsector=AL&event_id=28161

 FINAL SUPER COMBINED POINTS STANDINGS
1. Lindsey Vonn, Vail, CO – 220
2. Tina Maze, Slovenia – 212
3. Maria Riesch, Germany – 205

COMPETITION QUOTES

 Lindsey Vonn:  “It was a great day. I knew that it was really close with the points and I knew I had to ski great slalom run to get the title. I don’t think it was my best slalom run, but I was aggressive the whole way and that was my goal. Super combined titles are not easy to win because there are only three races so you can’t make any mistakes.”

 “I’ve been struggling a lot in slalom this year, but I have been training well, especially the last few weeks. I’ve had a lack of self confidence which comes from not finishing very many slalom races in the last two years, so today I knew I had nothing to lose and I had to go out and take the title if I wanted it. I wanted it badly.”

 “There are some more titles on the line this weekend with the downhill and super G and going to try and win those. At this point in the season, Maria is quite a bit ahead of me in the overall title hunt and so I’m just skiing relaxed, having fun and skiing like I have nothing to lose. I’m still skiing like I have a chance to win the overall, but I have to be realistic about it too. I’m going to ski to win races and then we’ll see where it ends up.”

 “Leanne had a really good downhill run and Julia also had a great run of slalom today. For Leanne to be in the top 10 of super combined is really cool. We’re all skiing well right now. We have some great depth to our team and it’s fun to be around.”  

 Alex Hoedlmoser – Head Coach:  “To a degree it was good that Lindsey just had to go out and attack it in the slalom. She knew that she had to beat Maria and that’s what was in her mind. In the last couple of races she had other things in her mind, but today was just like ‘I want this title, so I just need to go.’”

“We know that she can kill the downhill, so that wasn’t a surprise, the impressive part was the slalom. She’s been with it all season in training, but for some reason has backed off on race day and today she went out and was fantastic in the slalom.”

“The girls were all in communication today and they knew they had to be smart. This was obviously great results for the whole team. Having everyone was in the top 20 and three in the top 10 is awesome. Everyone is pumped for tomorrow’s downhill.”

 

MULTIMEDIA LINKS
Audio for editorial use: USSA Audio
Action Photography: Getty Images (licensing required)

RACE HIGHLIGHTS
Lindsey Vonn SC-DH: http://unisports.tv/fHxwgK
Lindsey Vonn SC-SL: http://unisports.tv/gaRxMz
Julia Mancuso SC-DH: http://unisports.tv/f9WqrN
Julia Mancuso SC-SL: http://unisports.tv/gsILLT
Leanne Smith SC-DH: http://unisports.tv/i5qk3a
Leanne Smith SC-SL: http://unisports.tv/gcQocs