Smith, Tarberry both named to U.S. Ski Team
LEANNE SMITH (fourth from left) was once again named to the US Ski Team A Team. The Kennett grad represented the United States in the Vancouver Olympics. Eric Schramm - US Ski Team - Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
November 07, 2011VAIL, Colo. — Mountain Plaza roared Saturday as the 2012 U.S. Alpine Ski Team, including Olympic gold medalists Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.), Bode Miller (Franconia), Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, Calif.) and Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah), was introduced during a public celebration drawing a huge crowd to Vail Mountain.
"Every one of us feels amazing support from our hometowns, but the reception the U.S. Ski Team receives in Vail is always something special," said Vonn, who became the first woman in American history to win in all five alpine disciplines with her season opening giant slalom win in Soelden, Austria.
The public celebration, First Tracks presented by Nature Valley, was webcast live on Universal Sports. Universal Sports will carry complete digital and broadcast coverage of the entire Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season. For complete information log on to www.UniversalSports.com.
Fans cheered as team athletes from all levels, Development to World Cup, took the stage. Many of them hope to return to the Rocky Mountain village for their shot at gold when the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships return to Vail and Beaver Creek in 2015.
"There is an incredible amount of momentum with this team," said U.S. Ski Team Alpine Director Patrick Riml. "We closed the last winter with multiple Audi FIS Alpine World Cup titles and opened 2012 with back-to-back wins by Lindsey and Ted in Soelden. Now it's time to take that momentum and continue to execute."
Vonn, who currently owns more World Cup victories than any American (male or female with 42) will seek to capture her fourth overall World Cup title after missing the notch by three points to German Maria Hoefl-Riesch when the final race of the 2011 season was canceled due to snow conditions.
It will be the 15th World Cup season for Miller, the most decorated U.S. Olympic alpine skier, who says he still has the passion to compete at the highest level and looks to continue to be a positive influence on the development of the sport.
Ligety, the 2011 giant slalom World Champion, showed strong signs of defending his World Cup giant slalom title (his third) with victory in Soelden, but hopes to move his slalom skiing back to the World Cup podium. A resurgence in slalom and continued strength in speed events, particularly super G, may move Ligety closer to a World Cup overall title.
For Mancuso, who won the final downhill of the World Cup season, 2012 is about continuing to stride back towards World Cup title contention after finishing third in both downhill and super G standings and fifth in the overall ranks in 2011.
"Lindsey, Bode, Julia and Ted have their goals and we have a clear plan in helping them to attain those goals," added Riml. "But we have a strong group of young athletes ready for the World Cup podium and we're also looking forward to strong returns from a number of injured athletes."
Olympic bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.) is back from a shoulder injury, while World Cup podium finishers Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, Calif.) and Nolan Kasper (Warren, Vt.) should both see full seasons.
On the women's side, Alice McKennis (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) rejoins an already deep women's speed team that includes Laurenne Ross (Bend, Ore.) and Leanne Smith (North Conway). U.S. speed women won both the downhill and super G standings for the 2011 World Cup season, besting traditional powerhouses like Austria and Switzerland.
World Cup action hits full stride in North America with the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational featuring Vonn and Mancuso on Thanksgiving weekend in Aspen, Colo. followed by the Audi Birds of Prey races Dec. 2-4 in nearby Beaver Creek where Ligety is the defending giant slalom champion.
Both Aspen and Beaver Creek World Cup events will be air on NBC. For a complete U.S. Ski Team broadcast calendar, go to http://usskiteam.com/tv.
The U.S. Alpine Ski Team will be outfitted by Spyder, who has been the official uniform supplier of competition wear since 1989. To get the gear worn by the U.S. Ski Team, check out http://shop.usskiteam.com.
In addition to Smith being named to the A Team, fellow former Kennett star Ace Tarberry was named to the men's C Team and Julia Ford of Plymouth was named to the women's C Team.