Olympics: Ligety leads list of Utahns named to U.S. team
Park City's Ted Ligety finished second in a World Cup super-combined race at the famous Hahnenkamm event in Kitzbuhel, Austria on Sunday, just hours before being named to his third Olympic Team for the 2014 Sochi Games next month.
Ligety is expected to contend for a medal in at least the three events in which he won gold at the world championships last year the super-G, the super-combined and his speciality, the giant slalom.
Five-time Olympian Bode Miller figures to be right there with him, after finishing third in the downhill over the weekend, and second in a super-G before being disqualified from an apparent third-place finish in the super-combined.
"We're on a really good track right now," said Patrick Riml, the Alpine director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. "All the programs, both the tech and speed athletes, are showing really good improvements and progressions. I'm very pleased with where we are right now going into the Games."
Eighteen others joined Ligety and Miller on the Alpine team for Sochi, including three-time Olympian Julia Mancuso and young slalom star Mikaela Shiffrin.
Most of the athletes have strong connections to Utah, either having grown up there or relocated at some point to live and train at the U.S. Ski Team's Center of Excellence training headquarters in Park City.
Steven Nyman, for example, is a Provo native who lives in Sundance, while Mancuso is a former Park City resident and graduate of the Winter Sports School. Marco Sullivan moved last year to Salt Lake City, where Jared Goldberg grew up. Megan McJames is a Park City native, while Tim Jitloff and Resi Stiegler were both past members of the Park City Ski Team.
The other members of the team include David Chodounsky, Erik Fisher, Travis Ganong, Nolan Kasper and Andrew Weibrecht on the men's side, and Stacey Cook, Julia Ford, Laurenne Ross, Leanne Smith and Jacqueline Wiles on the women's team.
Ligety finished the super-combined race behind France's Alexis Pinturault, the 22-year-old former junior world champion who's aiming to displace him as the world's foremost giant slalom skier. Ligety had the second-fastest slalom time of the super-combined event, after clocking the 15th-fastest super-G portion.
Ligety also finished 31st in the separate World Cup super-G race earlier Sunday.
"As a group we're building momentum right now, which is really nice to see," said Sasha Rearick, the men's Alpine coach. "The guys have been working hard all summer, all fall and all winter, day in and day out and that's starting to show. The guys have shown 100 percent effort every day. You look at the guys who have been putting in the most effort, those are the guys we're going to be taking to the Games and the ones that we can count on to represent America well."
2014 Olympic Alpine Team Nominations
David Chodounsky, Crested Butte, Colo. (6/25/84)
Erik Fisher, Middleton, Idaho (3/21/85) *
Travis Ganong, Squaw Valley, Calif. (7/14/88)
Jared Goldberg, Holladay, Utah (6/15/91)
Tim Jitloff, Reno, Nev. (1/11/85) *
Nolan Kasper, Warren, Vt.T (3/27/89) *
Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah (8/31/84) *
Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H. (10/12/77) *
Steven Nyman, Sundance, Utah (2/12/82) *
Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, Calif. (4/27/80) *
Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, N.Y. (2/10/86) *
Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, Calif. (7/3/84) *
Julia Ford, Holderness, N.H. (3/30/90)
Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, Calif. (3/9/84) *
Megan McJames, Park City, Utah (9/24/87) *
Laurenne Ross, Bend, Ore. (8/17/88)
Mikaela Shiffrin, Eagle-Vail, Colo. (3/13/95)
Leanne Smith, North Conway, N.H. (5/28/87) *
Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, Wyo. (11/14/85) *
Jacqueline Wiles, Aurora, Ore. (7/13/92)
* Member of past U.S. Olympic Team