USSA columnist Tom Kelly takes a look at Lindsey Vonn's performance on the World Cup this season in this week's Behind the Globe.
Lindsey Vonn pushed out of the starting gate and into the fog. The blue sky mornings she had enjoyed the last 10 days in Les Trois Vallées were replaced with low-hanging clouds dipping down to the Piste du Roc de Fer. Gate by gate, she angulated perfect arcs, carving her way down the mountain in the soft spring snow.
A minute and 14 seconds later, Vonn crossed the finish line – a broad smile on her face. Today, though, there would be no hands pumped wildly into the air. She wouldn’t be lying on the snow shrieking with joy. There were no press conferences or TV networks clamoring to interview her first. But this was a special day for the woman who two days earlier had tied Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 19 World Cup titles.
SUGARLOAF, ME (March 26, 2015) - Another day, another young, rising star at the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Champs. In Thursday’s giant slalom, USSA National Training Group (NTG) skier Nina O’Brien (Edwards, CO – NTG; Burke Mountain Academy) threw down the fastest time of the day to take the win. World Cup skiers Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN – U.S. Ski Team) and Megan McJames (Park City, UT – Park City Ski Ed Foundation) were second and third, respectively.
To the delight of the fans, Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) kicked off the day by forerunning the GS. She utilized the day to influence the kids that came to watch her. “My life has changed over the past few years. You grow as a person as you grow in your skiing,” said Vonn. “I’m really just here for the kids—for all the junior racers. It’s not about the competition, but more about the next generation.”
SUGARLOAF, ME (March 25, 2015)—On an uncharacteristically sunny, warm day at Sugarloaf, top athletes in North America competed at the U.S. Alpine Championships for the title of the nation’s best super G skier. Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, CO) triumphed in the women’s field with Jackie Wiles (Aurora, OR) taking third. On the men’s side, Drew Duffy (Warren, VT – Green Mountain Valley School) took the unbelievable win over Steven Nyman (Sundance, UT) and Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA).
WATERVILLE VALLEY, NH (March 23, 2015)—The NorAm Finals wrapped on Monday in both Waterville Valley, NH and Burke Mountain, VT. Michael Ankeny (Deephaven, MN) took an impressive overall win. Because of their first and second place discipline results, Tim Kelley (Starksboro, VT), Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN), Megan McJames (Park City, UT) and Tommy Ford (Bend, OR) all snagged spots in next year’s World Cup circuit.
The NorAm tour is the steppingstone for athletes to the Audi FIS Ski World Cup circuit. The top two athletes in slalom and giant slalom on the NorAm earn a start position in the next season’s World Cup, in addition to the regular quota of top national team athletes.
It was a tough last NorAm in Waterville Valley, with athletes forced to hike the course because the lift closed. Ankeny won the final slalom race, which gave him both the overall and slalom titles. Kelley charged his way to the second World Cup slalom spot, ahead of Canadian Trevor Philp.
SUGARLOAF, ME (March 23, 2015) – America’s most prestigious domestic alpine ski racing event returns to Sugarloaf this week as the Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships get underway March 25-29. A field of nearly 200 athletes from around the United States and the world will take part in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) event which returns to the USSA Eastern region for the first time since 2008.
The U.S. Championships are a vital part of the USSA’s national development program, pitting top club athletes from regional teams around America against U.S. Ski Team veterans from the Audi FIS Ski World Cup tour. As an International Ski Federation (FIS)-sanctioned event, it is also open to foreign skiers. As a preview to the upcoming events, last week the U.S. Championship downhill was run at Sugarloaf with Wiley Maple (Aspen, CO) and Julia Ford (Holderness, NH) each taking home titles.
MERIBEL, France (March 22, 2015)—It was a rough last day at the World Cup Finals with the guys battling fog and soft snow in the slalom. The indomitable Marcel Hirscher of Austria took the win, grabbing both the slalom World Cup crystal globe and the overall title. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) represented the U.S., but neither finished the race.
With warm weather not allowing the snow to set up after rain on Saturday afternoon, the race was riddled with ruts and soft snow. But the crowd didn’t care, as the true battle was between Felix Neureuther of Germany and Hirscher, with Hirscher trailing Neureuther by 55 points in the slalom standings before the race. Hirscher knew he had to win or take second place in order to seize the slalom title.
MERIBEL, France (March 22, 2015) - Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) capped her comeback season finishing fifth in the final giant slalom to take third in the World Cup overall. The back-and-forth battle for the overall title came down to the very last run of the season as Anna Fenninger of Austria re-took the lead with a dramatic win over Tina Maze, who had vaulted back into the lead just 24 hours earlier.
Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO), who had won the slalom title with a win on Saturday, finished seventh today and was third in the GS standings.
After a week of tourist bureau weather, rain, snow and fog took over Saturday night and into the racing Sunday. A heavy fog band hampered vision through the mid-section of the course.
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.”