While most of us are busy thinking about mountain biking and hiking, the U.S. Ski Team has already kicked off the 2015/16 season with on-snow training camps in California and Colorado. Heading to places like Mammoth Mountain and Arapahoe Basin, the Team looks forward to these low-pressure spring camps with no big races looming. So, what goes on at a U.S. Ski Team training camp?
On the men’s side, Head Men's Tech Coach Forest Carey and assistant coaches Scotty Veenis and Ian Garner made their way westward to Mammoth Mountain, accompanied by an eclectic crew including Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY), David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) and Bryce Bennett (Squaw Valley, CA). Though it was a quick seven-day camp and there was certainly a lack of snow, the crew was able to get some high-volume giant slalom and super G training under their belts.
MERIBEL, France (March 22, 2015) - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) capped her comeback season finishing fifth in the final giant slalom to take third in the World Cup overall. The back-and-forth battle for the overall title came down to the very last run of the season as Anna Fenninger of Austria re-took the lead with a dramatic win over Tina Maze, who had vaulted back into the lead just 24 hours earlier.
Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO), who had won the slalom title with a win on Saturday, finished seventh today and was third in the GS standings.
After a week of tourist bureau weather, rain, snow and fog took over Saturday night and into the racing Sunday. A heavy fog band hampered vision through the mid-section of the course.
MERIBEL, France (March 21, 2015) - Sweden's Frida Hansdotter brought the pressure but American Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) was prepared, summoning up a strong second run to overtake her for the victory and a third straight Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom title at the finals in Meribel.
Hansdotter, who had challenged Shiffrin's defense of her title all season, was first out of the gate in the first run, putting down a spectacular performance to set the target for Shiffrin. The American was unable to match, standing second .07 back. Shiffrin had come into the race with a 90-point margin, meaning that she needed a top-15 finish to keep the globe.
Mikeala Shiffrin charges down the Roc de Fer course in Meribel to her sixth win of the season. (Getty Images/AFP-Jeff Pachoud)
MERIBEL, France (March 19, 2015) – Meribel is a magical place and the World Cup Finals results have been equally magical. Lindsey Vonn has been on fire: two globes and two wins in two days. And let’s hope that the number two continues to be lucky in Meribel, as Mikaela Shiffrin drew bib number two for Saturday’s slalom.
Shiffrin goes for her third career World Cup globe in the slalom, holding a 90-point lead over Sweden's Frida Hansdotter. Shiffrin has had great training all week, including an early morning session on Friday in Courchevel, France, which has left her feeling good and focused for the tech weekend. But even though her slalom lead is comfortable, it’s not yet secure.
“I feel good. I’m 90 points ahead, which makes everybody think, ‘Well, you have it locked up then,’” said Shiffrin. “But I’m thinking that I don’t yet. And if I have that cocky attitude then there’s a good chance I can lose it.”
ARE, Sweden (Mar. 14, 2015)—It felt like spring skiing in Are, Sweden. The sun was out and the snow soft, and the Swedish fans were loud in the last women’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup before the World Cup Finals. Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) slayed both of her runs, taking her third win in Are and a solid 90-point lead into World Cup Finals.
Shiffrin threw down a blazing first run, skiing in her classic, mistake-less style and took first place by a. 89 seconds over Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic. But she was determined to not back off. “I’m trying to take each run like it’s my last run,” said Shiffrin after she finished first run. “I’m putting all of my heart into it and ski my fastest and see what happens. I don’t want to have any regrets.”
ARE, Sweden (Mar. 13, 2015)—Tension was palpable in Are, Sweden at the last Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom before the World Cup Finals. Crystal globes were in all of the women’s thoughts, making for an exciting race under the lights. Anna Fenninger of Austria took the win and the lead for the GS title. On her 20th birthday, Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) was just off the podium in fourth.
The course was soft first run with a deep groove forming throughout the race, but the second run was salted, hardening the track as the sun set. The solid snow was good for the fast and swingy second run, which required the athletes to work the ski on every turn and control the power to the finish.
After winning the gold in the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships slalom, most athletes wave at the crowd and celebrate their win with friends and family. Mikaela Shiffrin did just that, but when she headed back to Europe for the remaining World Cup races, she took some time to say thank you to every fan, volunteer and organizer of her hometown World Championships by writing this letter.
To all involved in the Vail/Beaver Creek 2015 World Ski Championships [WSC],
MARIBOR, Slovenia (Feb. 22, 2015)—Through rain and soft snow in Maribor, Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) had two flawless slalom runs at the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup, never giving up first place. Shiffrin took the win by more than a second over Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia and Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic.
After a smoking first run on the salted course, Shiffrin built a strong .68 second lead, giving her a comfortable first place cushion coming into second run. The cheers and cowbells were loud from the crowd, second only to the screams for hometown hero Tina Maze, who finished in a disappointing DNF.
But with the tricky conditions, Shiffrin warned that starting 30th second run could be a disadvantage. “I think it will be a bit rough,” said Shiffrin after her upcoming second run. “Especially running 30th, I’ll have to ski very athletic… I like the smooth courses, so I have to be tough.”
MARIBOR, SLOVENIA (Feb. 21, 2015)—The best female ski racers in the world competed in front of a rowdy Slovenian crowd on Saturday that rivaled that of the World Championships in Beaver Creek, CO. They were loud and they were ready to see hometown heroine Tina Maze perform. Just two Americans competed in Maribor: Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) and Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO). Shiffrin was just off the podium—in fifth place—and Vonn did not finish.
U.S. Ski Team alpine press officer Megan Harrod chimes in with her experience at February’s hometown World Championships.
Now that the stands are empty, the cowbells have quieted and the dust has settled on the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, all that is left is the memories. As 70 nations descended upon Vail and Beaver Creek, we dreamed. We lived. And we shared.
For those that couldn’t make it to the unbelievable hometown event, here are the top 15 memories we’ll take away from World Championships this year.