ZAGREB, Croatia (Jan. 6, 2015)—It was a tough evening in Zagreb, Croatia for the U.S. Ski Team men, who are still comprehending Monday’s devastating news from Soelden, Austria. No Americans finished the Audi FIS Ski World Cup night slalom, with only Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) qualifying for a second run.
The injected hill in Zagreb was icy and unforgiving, coupled with fog and low visibility. But with 10,000 people cheering them into the finish, the atmosphere was electric. Running bullet, Marcel Hirscher from Austria threw down a lightning fast first run that no one could catch—finishing .81 seconds ahead of Felix Neureuther of Germany overall. Sebastian-Foss Solevaag of Norway was in third.
SOELDEN, Austria (Jan. 5, 2015) – The U.S. Ski Team is mourning the loss of two promising development-level ski racers killed Monday in an avalanche in Soelden. The two were among a group of six athletes freeskiing at the Austrian resort. The other four skied out of the slide.
Killed in the avalanche were Ronnie Berlack, 20 (Franconia, NH and Burke Mountain, VT) and Bryce Astle, 19 (Sandy, UT).
“Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport – both on the race course and skiing the mountain,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them.”
ZAGREB, Croatia (Jan. 4, 2015) - Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) celebrated the New Year in style, winning her second straight Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom in Zagreb and laying claim for the second time to the Snow Queen Trophy. Shiffrin won in dominating style, leading the first run by .80 and expanding that lead in the second for a 1.68 second margin over Austria's Kathrin Zettel. Nina Loeseth of Norway was third, nearly three seconds behind Shiffrin. Resi Stiegler (Jackson, WY) was 13th.
"Both runs today I had so much fun," said Shiffrin. She repeated the win she earned in Zagreb two years ago on a hill she enjoys. "Snow Queen is a nice title," she said. "More than that, I really like this hill. I like the challenge. It’s a little bit steep, a little bit flat - you have to work it all the way down. The crowd is incredible. It’s a classic race where the fans love to watch ski racing."
KUEHTAI IN TIROL, Austria (Dec. 29, 2014)—With two nearly perfect runs, Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) never let go of first place at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup, taking her first slalom win of the season against a stacked field in Austria. Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic was second and Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was third. Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) finished in 23rd.
It was a small tech team competing at Kuehtai in Tirol, with only Shiffrin and Stiegler making the flip. Unlike the previous day’s giant slalom, the course was in great condition with a simple set and the girls could let the skis run. Even though Shiffrin faced stiff competition, she skied confidently and built her lead throughout the second run, winning by .80 of a second.
KUEHTAI IN TIROL, Austria (Dec. 28, 2014)—Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) stood on the podium for the first time since her win in Soelden, Austria. Shiffrin won the first run at Sunday's Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom, but battled rough conditions and poor visibility to take third place overall. Sara Hector of Sweden won her first World Cup, and Austria’s Anna Fenninger was second.
After a brief holiday break, the women were back in action in Kuehtai in Tirol, Austria—a venue switch from Semmering due to snow conditions. With a straight-set second run, the course resembled a super G more than a giant slalom, not Shiffrin’s specialty. She held back a little on the run, missing first place by .18.
SANTA CATERINA, Italy (Dec. 27, 2014) - Travis Ganong (Squaw Valley, CA) took advantage of a new course for the men's Audi FIS Ski World Cup tour and punched through for his career first victory, winning the Santa Caterina downhill. Austria's Matthias Mayer was the only one who got close to Ganong, finishing in second, nine-hundredths back. Italy's Dominick Paris was third. Universal Sports Network will carry coverage at 10:00 a.m. EST.
A traditional site for women's downhill including World Championships in 1985 and 2005, it was first time for the men on the Deborah Campognini downhill, which Ganong used to his advantage. "It was a perfect run!" said Ganong. "I love to take on a new challenge and a new slope. I love the hill—the mountains are huge here and it’s fun skiing."
As a teen, Steven Nyman learned about terrain at the USSA's Western Region Flight School. How did that help him win Val Gardena a third time? USSA columnist Tom Kelly takes a look in this week's Behind the Gold.
Behind the Gold
Standing atop Ciampinoi at the start is imposing. To your right is the giant Sella Group massif, jutting up like an island in the Dolomites. Behind you is the castle-like Langkofel, it’s rocky red face blanketed lightly in early season snow. The sheer beauty could easily mesmerize you. As a downhill ski racer, you look away and focus your eyes straight ahead down the fabled Saslong – over two miles and two minutes of sheer terror that is about to jar every single bone in your body.
This is the moment Steven Nyman longs for every year.