MERIBEL, France (March 21, 2015)—On the first day of tech events in Meribel, the crowd was alive—excited to cheer on hometown heroes and the big names alike. Marcel Hirscher came into the race with the giant slalom globe already secured, which left the rest of the men looking for the final World Cup win of the season. 20-year-old Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway took his second World Cup win in a row, while Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was sixth.
It was a balmy day with sugary snow and ruts forming quickly. But the conditions didn’t affect Kjetil Jansrud of Norway, who needed to finish in the top 15 to keep the pressure on Marcel Hirscher for the overall. Sitting in 21st place out of 23 finishers first run, Jansrud threw down an aggressive second run to move up to 11th, forcing Hirscher to wait until Sunday’s slalom to clinch the overall globe.
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.”
Julia Mancuso did not have her best season. Known for Olympic medals and dominating the World Cup field, Julia was frustrated as she missed podium after podium. After a good start in December—sharing the Lake Louise downhill podium with teammates Lindsey Vonn and Stacey Cook—she could not take back her reign of the World Cup.
Then, right before World Cup Finals, Julia made the hard decision to leave the World Cup and head home. It came out that her hip had flared up again, an injury she had battled throughout her whole career. It triggered a flood of media and fans alike asking the question, “Does this mean Julia is retiring?”
Julia sat down with us to answer questions about her World Cup career, her newfound love of backcountry skiing and, most importantly, her skiing future.
U.S. SKI TEAM: Why did you decide to leave the World Cup? How did you make the decision?
MERIBEL, France (March 19, 2015)—The World Cup Finals super G kicked off on another beautiful, bluebird day. Dustin Cook of Canada, who has been dancing around the top spot all season, took his first World Cup win. Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) was the top American racer, taking 15th.
Kjetil Jansrud of Norway had already secured his super G globe coming into the Finals, but didn’t ski like it—taking second, just .05 seconds behind Cook. This brings his tally to two crystal globes—one in downhill and one in super G—and sits in second in the overall hunt. However, with tech specialist Marcel Hirscher of Austria taking fourth in the super G and getting ready for the giant slalom and slalom, Hirscher will likely take the overall. Brice Roger of France was third.
MERIBEL, France (March 19, 2015) - Standing in the start house, Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) knew the scenario - Austria's Anna Fenninger was in the lead and it would take a win to claim the title. Even with that pressure on her shoulders, Vonn skied aggressively down the Roc de Fer and claimed her 67th World Cup victory and 19th Audi FIS Ski World Cup crystal globe, sweeping the speed titles in the World Cup Finals at Meribel. Fenninger was second, expanding her overall World Cup lead over third place Tina Maze of Slovenia to 32 points with two races to go.
Vonn's 19 World Cup titles is the most of any woman in history, and matches the mark set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.
MERIBEL, UT (March 18, 2015)—In the first World Cup Finals race of the week, Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) was the top American, taking fourth place in the downhill. Kjetil Jansrud of Norway won the race, and snagged the downhill crystal globe.
It was a beautiful day for the downhill in Meribel, France, with sunshine and warm weather stoking the roaring crowd. Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) was the first American racer out of the start, and took eighth overall—a solid finish for the World Cup veteran. Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) took ninth and Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was 24th.
MERIBEL, France (March 18, 2015) - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) began the finale of her comeback season in high style Wednesday, scoring a convincing victory and claiming her 18th career crystal globe in winning the Audi FIS Ski World Cup downhill title. Vonn was flawless under the clear blue skies, skiing to a .24 second victory over Austria's Elisabeth Goergl.
Vonnn brought a 35 point lead over Fenninger into the final, essentially needing to stay ahead of the Austrian. Fenninger skied 16th, one spot before Vonn, and had a troubling run to drop into fourth. All Vonn needed was a top-15 to take the title. But she went out charging in the soft snow to move into a convincing lead. Goergl was the only challenger and couldn't top Vonn. Slovenia's Tina Maze was fourth, narrowing the gap behind Fenninger to just 12 points for the overall - a battle that is expected to go down to the final race this week.
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, ME (Mar. 17, 2015)—While a group of World Cup skiers take on the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, the first race of the 2015 U.S. Alpine National Championships kicked off on Tuesday at Sugarloaf Mountain. Julia Ford (Holderness, NH) was crowned the champion for the women, while Wiley Maple (Aspen, CO) won the men’s downhill.
Sugarloaf experienced some classic Maine March weather, resulting in canceled training and a delayed race. More than eight inches of snow fell on the ski area, followed by heavy winds that whipped the snow into a halfpipe down the Narrow Gauge downhill track. The start had to be delayed, while the race crew attacked the course with snowcats. A shortage of forerunners also resulted in a snow seed starting ahead of the top-seeded racers.