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.
VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 15, 2015) – The U.S. Ski Team wrapped up the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships with a strong closing weekend, finishing with five medals – including two golds – and standing second in the medals behind Austria. It was among the best performances ever by the Team. As the host nation, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) also used the World Championships as a platform to bring alpine ski racing to America through a pioneering domestic broadcast program, reaching the biggest national audience for skiing ever outside the Olympics.
“The Championships have exceeded our expectations,” said International Ski Federation Secretary General Sarah Lewis, citing the huge crowds, exciting atmosphere in the Vail Valley as well as the domestic and international broadcast distribution and media coverage. Under the leadership of Ceil Folz, the organizers produced great race venues and created an engaging American ski festival atmosphere.
VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 14. 2015)—The Vail/Beaver Creek community turned out in force to cheer on their hometown superstar, Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) in Saturday’s slalom, and Shiffrin treated her family, friends and fans to a triumphant show. Shiffrin won the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships slalom in dramatic fashion, adding to her already stacked resume. In second place was Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter and Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic was third.
Wearing bib number two, Shiffrin did not have to wait long for her chance to perform on hometown turf. Slovenia’s Tina Maze preceded Shiffrin out of the start gate, skiing well enough for a top five spot in the first run standings.
VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 12. 2015)—The speed races wrapped on Beaver Creek’s renowned Birds of Prey terrain and the World Champs focus switched to the technical events. Of the 116 women at the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships giant slalom (GS) on Thursday, Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) took eighth and Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) was 14th. In the end, Austria’s Anna Fenninger stood atop the podium, flanked by Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany in second and Sweden's Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in third.
The two-run GS is known as the most technical of all the World Cup disciplines, requiring precision and speed. Billed as the most competitive race of the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships, the women’s GS event became a competition for silver and bronze after Austrian superstar Anna Fennigner’s first run. Fenninger went into the second run with a massive 1.70-second lead over the runner up in the first run.
VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 11. 2015)—Tuesday’s team event marked a transition at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The gears are shifting, as the athletes trade speed events for technical races. The downhill and super G races are in the U.S. Ski Team’s rearview mirror, and the athletes are now focused on the upcoming giant slalom and slalom races. On deck, women’s GS on Thursday.
Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) will headline the American skiers in the GS. Shiffrin, the 19-year-old Vail local, has a skiing resume that belies her young age, with 12 wins and 21 podiums in four seasons on the World Cup, one Olympic gold medal, and a World Championship medal during her meteoric rise into the World Cup elite.
During Tuesday’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championships nations team event, the Canadians stole the show with a silver medal, defeated by the indelible Austrians. Run on Vail’s Golden Peak, the crowd was big, with cheering spectators lining the sides of course. The American team made it to the first two rounds, but was ousted in the quarterfinals, tying for fifth with Italy, France and Norway.