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.
VAIL/BEAVER CREEK, CO (Feb. 9, 2015)—Tuesday afternoon is the nations team event—a duel paneled slalom at Vail, CO as a part of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Athletes and organizers boast that it’s the most fun race of the two weeks, but what exactly is this team event?
HOW IT WORKS
The team event is set up in bracket style, with the top 16 nations ranked similar to NCAA's March Madness, based on Nations Cup points at the end of the last World Cup race prior to the event (men’s slalom at Schladming, Austria on Jan. 27, 2015). Total team sizes are set at a max of six racers, with at least two competitors from each gender starting each heat. Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO), Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN), Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) and Will Brandenburg (Spokane, WA) will be competing for the U.S.
VAIL, CO (Jan. 21, 2015) – The U.S. Ski Team has announced the addition of Brandon Dyksterhouse to its women’s technical team as part of a unique partnership with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. Dyksterhouse, a former national level racer and longtime ski coach, will join the Team as interim women’s tech head coach through the remainder of the season to provide support to Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin and the women’s slalom and giant slalom squad.
According to U.S. Ski Team Alpine Director Patrick Riml, the partnership grew out of Dyksterhouse’s work with Team athletes in Vail. He will join a staff that includes Luca de Marchi and Gary Miller. He has already begun working with Team athletes training in Colorado and will remain through World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek and on through the World Cup Finals.
FLACHAU, Austria (Jan. 13, 2014)—The women raced under the lights in Flachau, Austria for the last Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom before the World Championships. Mikaela Shiffrin (Vail, CO) had a speedy second run, skiing from eighth place to grab third place overall. Frida Hansdotter from Sweden took the win and Slovenian Tina Maze finished second.
The crowd was huge, with 10,000 screaming fans cheering on the women. The course crew injected the hill on Thursday, but with rain and 1.5 feet of snow falling on top of it over the weekend, the grippy track grooved up quickly.
It was a tough race for many, with seven DNFs second run. Shiffrin overskied first run, and finished eighth—only .68 seconds behind Hansdotter—but was determined to hammer it second run. She followed up on her resolve, putting the pedal down to finish third on the second run, and third overall.