PARK CITY, UT (March 10, 2015) – The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s National Training Group (NTG) athletes put on a strong showing at the 2015 U18 National Alpine Championships at Copper Mountain, CO. Eight NTG athletes found the podium after eight days of tech and speed events. For the first time, the championship event included two downhill races in addition to the super G, giant slalom and slalom.
On the tech side, Nina O’Brien took the slalom title for the women, besting her NTG teammate Megan McGrew. Burke Mountain Academy’s Madison Lord finished third. On the men’s side, River Radamus (NTG) claimed a 0.43 second victory over Stratton Mountain School’s George Steffey. A powerful second run propelled NTG/Sugarbowl athlete Luke Winters on to the podium in third. Winters also took home the men’s combined title.
HAFJELL, Norway (March 9, 2015) – Nearly perfect snow conditions on the first run led Minnesota native Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN) to a gold medal in slalom Monday at the 2015 FIS Alpine Junior World Championships on the 1994 Olympic venue of Hafjell, just outside Lillehammer. Moltzan’s win is the first ever win for a U.S. woman in Junior Worlds slalom. Teammate AJ Ginnis (Waitsfield, VT) also snagged a medal, finishing third in the men’s slalom.
Moltzan was on top from the beginning, finishing nearly a second faster than Germany’s silver medalist Marlene Schmotz on her first run before claiming the title by 0.65 seconds. Austria’s Katharina Truppe was a full second off Moltzan’s pace, finishing with the bronze. Moltzan’s gold medal is the first for the U.S. women since Julia Mancuso won the combined in 2004.
KVITFJELL, Norway (March 8, 2015)—It was a tough day in Kvitfjell, with 21 DNFs in the Audi FIS Ski World Cup super G. Only 38 racers made it down the difficult course, with Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) tying his career-best super G result in fifth place. Kjetil Jansrud of Norway was back to his dominating form, winning the race, with Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria second and Dustin Cook of Canada third.
Weibrecht was excited about his race, which wasn’t his best, but he put down a clean, solid run. “The snow is really soft and it’s not an easy race. It took a lot of tactics,” said Weibrecht after his run. “It’s just a really, really tough race, but I’m pretty satisfied.”
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (March 8, 2015)—The ladies wrapped up the last speed series before World Cup finals on Sunday with a Audi FIS Ski World Cup super G in Garmisch. It was a perfect day for Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), who put down a flawless run to take the win and the overall super G World Cup lead.
With no mistakes, Tina Maze of Slovenia slayed the course that her Slovenian coach set, and pulled out a time that everyone thought was unbeatable. But Lindsey Vonn’s coaches radioed up to Vonn, telling her to “send it,” and she did just that. Building speed throughout the course, Vonn crushed her run and took the win over Maze by .20. Anna Fenninger of Austria was third.
KVITFJELL, Norway (Mar. 7, 2015)—In the penultimate Audi FIS Ski World Cup downhill of the season, the men were thirsty for results—looking to tighten the race for the overall downhill globe. Hannes Reichelt of Austria had a nearly perfect run on the Kvitfjell track and took the win, while the Americans stacked four racers in the top 15. Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) was the top American downhiller of the day, finishing in sixth place.
The conditions were strange in Kvitfjell, with fog and high winds rolling through the sunny morning in Norway causing the start to be lowered to the super G start. It’s a low-altitude resort—the base is about 600 feet above sea level—and the snow warmed up quickly. The track, slick and fast at the top of the course, quickly degraded as the racers made their way down the hill. But even with the varying conditions and lowered start, racers were still hitting 90 mph at the bottom of the course.
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (March 7, 2015) - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) was seventh Saturday in the Audi FIS Ski World Cup downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, retaining her tour lead but seeing the margin drop to 35 points over Anna Fenninger of Austria. Fenninger was second in a race won by Liechtenstein's Tina Weirather. The crystal globe will be decided March 18 at the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France.
Vonn, who won on her last outing at Garmisch in 2012, felt good about her run but got pushed low in some of the turns, eventually falling 1.40 seconds back from Weirather.
"I skied pretty well, maybe got a little bit pushed low in some turns," said Vonn. "But in general I thought it was a decent run. I was a little disappointed with my placing and the points difference for the title. But I did my best and hopefully tomorrow will be better."
GARMISCH, GERMANY (Mar. 6, 2015) – The second week of races at Garmisch features the women, and in the only downhill training run, Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO) was seeking redemption on a track that does not bring back good memories. After snagging her very first World Cup victory (and podium) in St. Anton in 2013 in what was the best season in her career, McKennis crashed on the Kandahar course and suffered a tibial plateau injury.
But during Friday’s training run, it didn’t seem to bother McKennis, who turned in the 16th fastest time. “Today was really an interesting day for me, coming back to a place where I had a pretty bad injury and had broken my leg two years ago,” said McKennis after her run. “It’s good to come back and have a little bit of redemption at a place I have a bad memory of, even if it’s just a training run.”
The U.S. ski racers returned to Europe after the World Championships with screams of 200,000 hometown fans still echoing in their ears. Medals adorned necks, hundreds of autographs signed, and national newspapers and morning shows called the skiers heroes. But World Cup circuit schedules returned to normal for the athletes when they crossed the pond—eat, sleep, train, race, repeat. Sometimes they get a quick moment to visit a neighboring town, go out to eat or see friends, but breaks are few and far between. However, every year, when the men and women’s teams arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany for speed events, the athletes forgo some of their limited down time to visit the true American heroes at the U.S. military base.
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO (Mar. 4, 2015)—Top U.S. athletes under the age of 18 headed to Copper Mountain, CO to compete for the title of best American U18 racer in the U18 National Championships. The USSA National Training Group (NTG) raked in results, with Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy showing dominance.
USSA CEO Tiger Shaw congratulated the young athletes on their acceptance into this race with a letter, comparing them to skiers like Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn. “[These] are some of the special athletes that have achieved high levels in our sports,” wrote Shaw. “They were all USSA junior athletes and have backgrounds not unlike you.”
BANSKO, Bulgaria (March 2, 2015) - The weather finally lifted in Bansko, after a weekend of delays and cancelations due to heavy fog. In a sun-drenched, technically set super G, Lindsey Vonn grabbed third place. Podium regulars Anna Fenninger of Austria and Tina Maze of Slovenia went one-two—identical results to Sunday’s alpine combined.
After a tough alpine combined for skiers on Sunday, the Italian coach set a demanding super G on Monday. The race, rescheduled from Friday’s cancelation, tripped up many speed skiers, but the best were able to pull out brilliant runs on the tricky track. The surface, which was not good during Sunday’s race, hardened up overnight—perfect for a super G.
Running 20th, Vonn was a bit unstable on top—almost horizontal on the snow at one point in the top section—but worked to close the half-second gap in the middle of the course. She found that extra gear and skied into third place, .28 off of Fenninger’s winning run.