As 2015 comes to a close, U.S. Ski Team alpine press officer Megan Harrod takes some time to reflect on the year from one of the U.S. Ski Team’s headquarters, in the sleepy little mountain village of Patsch, Austria with the top 10 moments of the 2015/2016 season so far.
Bryce Bennett reacts after seeing his sixth-place time on the scoreboard at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Men's downhill on December 19, 2015 in Val Gardena, Italy. (Getty/Agence Zoom-Francis Bompard)
He took his legendary flip on skis resort to resort, hop scotching from Boyne to Heavenly, Sugarbush to Aspen and on to Park City. He found a home at Deer Valley, arriving on a handshake and a look in the eye from his friend Edgar Stern. He exuded grace and elegance while carving picture perfect turns down Bald Mountain or entertaining guests by the fireplace in the lodge that bore his name, always wearing his signature Norwegian ski sweater. He was regarded as the father of freestyle and the patriarch of style in modern skiing during the formative days of the sport. He helped make skiing what it is today.
Stein Eriksen and Ted Ligety at the Utah State of Sport Awards this past April. (USSA - Tom Kelly)
LIENZ, Austria (Dec. 29, 2015) – A taste of home is just what Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) needed during a lonely ride on the World Cup Circuit, finishing 15th in her father's hometown of Lienz.
“It’s awesome to be racing in Lienz,” said Stiegler, who was the lone American competing in Tuesday’s Audi FIS World Cup slalom. “It’s like a second hometown for me. I was brought over here at a really young age and I’ve been racing this race for like 15 years now. I know it well. I love it. I have so much fun here.”
SANTA CATERINA, Italy (Dec. 29, 2015) – Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) and his U.S. teammates tackled one of the most challenging downhill tracks on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup circuit Tuesday, where just making it to the finish line was a victory.
“There’s been lots of action, lots of crashes, lots of crazy stuff,” Ganong said after leading the U.S. Ski Team in 17th place. “I would say this is one of the toughest hills we ski. It’s really hard. It’s like Sochi on the top and Bormio on the bottom - super dark, bumpy, super fast speeds. It’s a real deal downhill. It’s a gnarly, gnarly hill - the after-Christmas wake-up call."
LIENZ, Austria (Dec. 28, 2016) – Megan McJames (Park City, UT) led the U.S. in giant slalom, finishing 25th Monday. Meanwhile, Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) DNFed first run and losing more ground on the overall World Cup to Switzerland's Lara Gut.
“I just don’t quite have the timing right now. I haven’t skied here since 2011 and I feel like when I’m a little unsure of myself I tend to do things that I don’t normally do," commented Vonn after skiing too straight and not finishing the first run. "I’m pushing the limits—of course I’m trying to win. Mistakes happen. Hopefully I can get some more training in the next couple weeks and get the consistency back."
Gut won the race, extending her overall World Cup lead over Vonn to 158 points. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirrather was second, followed by Germany’s Rebensburg in third. Eva-Marie Brem of Austria finished fourth, surrendering her World Cup giant slalom lead to Gut by 8 points.
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (Dec. 22, 2015) – David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO), fresh off a career-best slalom result in Val d’Isere last weekend, kept the momentum flowing and once again popped into the top 10 in Tuesday’s evening slalom.
“I got a result and I’m happy!” Chodounsky said after finishing ninth on the bumpy course, which broke down due to warm temperatures. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), Michael Ankeny (Deephaven, MN), Mark Engel (Truckee, CA), Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, CO), Tim Kelley (Starksboro, VT), did not qualify for the second run. Robby Kelley (Starksboro, VT) DNFed first run.
Ted Ligety during the first run of the men's slalom event of the FIS Ski World Cup in Madonna di Campiglio Tuesday. (Getty/AFP-Olivier Morin)
VAL GARDENA, Italy (Dec. 21, 2015) – Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV), fresh off a seventh-place finish in Sunday’s traditional giant slalom, finished ninth to led the way for the U.S. Ski Team in Monday night’s new Audi FIS Alpine World Cup parallel giant slalom. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) were both knocked out in the first round, finishing 24th and 29th respectively.
The first of its kind on the World Cup, the PGS was full of surprises, with many pre-race favorites making early exits and a dark horse or two providing thrilling action in the new format.
COURCHEVEL, France (Dec. 20, 2015) - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), still feeling a bit rattled from Saturday’s near downhill disaster in Val d’Isere, was the lone U.S. finisher in Sunday’s Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom.
“I didn’t really feel very balanced today,” Vonn said after finishing 13th and surrendering her overall World Cup Lead to Switzerland’s Lara Gut. “I think I rung my bell a little bit yesterday.
“I came over a roll and caught my inside ski and it launched me,” Vonn said of Saturday’s near disaster. “I’m lucky I didn’t crash; it definitely did not feel good. I’ve been trying to recovery and be ready for today, but wasn’t really in it. I tried everything - got a lot of therapy but wasn’t quite right today.”
ALTA BADIA, Italy (Dec. 20, 2015) – Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) led a recharged men’s tech team, just missing the podium, as the Americans rebounded from a disappointing first run performance. Ligety led the way, finishing fourth, followed by Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) in seventh, and Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) in 12th.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won his third-straight Audi FIS Alpine World Cup giant slalom, and became the only racer in history to win three times at Alta Badia. Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was second, followed by Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France in third.
Following a disappointing first run for the Americans, the athletes and coaching staff made a few changes to re-charge for the second run. Ford was first to start the second run and posted the fastest second run of the day.
“I finally let it go second run and skied really well … skied clean,” Ford said.
VAL GARDENA, Italy (Dec. 19, 2015) – Bryce Bennett electrified the crowd with an attack from the back to lead the U.S. men and score a career-best sixth-place finish at Saturday’s Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup downhill.
Long after Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal won yet another downhill this season, Bennett, wearing bid 57, stepped into the starting gate and looked Svindal-esque as he capitalized on his large six-foot-seven-inch frame to keep his skis on the snow and carry speed through key sections where other skiers were thrown off line and forced to make recoveries.
Starting with bib 57, Bryce Bennett attacked to score a career-best sixth-place finish Saturday (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)