Sarah Schleper named to U.S. Ski Team
Vonn moves into the Olympic season on the heels of the most successful season in U.S. women’s alpine skiing history. In five months, Vonn defended her World Cup overall and downhill titles, added the super G title, captured two gold medals at the World Championships and nine World Cup victories across four disciplines, including an international record four consecutive super G wins. She also finished in the top 10 World Cup standings for slalom and giant slalom, making the 24-year-old a solid medal contender in five events.
“It goes without saying that we have the reigning world champion and two-time World Cup overall champion in Lindsey Vonn on this team,” said Women’s Alpine Head Coach Jim Tracy. “She’s already doing whatever it takes to continue that run in both the World Cup and at the Olympics.”
Vail Valley resident and longtime U.S. Ski Team member Sarah Schleper, who will compete in her second season after taking time off to give birth to her son and undergo knee surgery, was named to the B Team. Schleper, 30, notched several top finishes last season, including a second place in slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Alaska.
During the 2007-08 season as a J2, Hunter was tearing it up, winning the Junior Olympics super-G and GS in Aspen. That year, he then went up to the Canadian Junior National Championships and picked up gold in the super-G, GS and the combined.
Greta Byrne, 16, of Eagle-Vail, was also named to the development team. At the J2 Junior Olympics in March in Aspen, she captured gold in the slalom and fifth in the downhill.
Gregorak, 18, who was on the development team last year, was named to the C Team this year.
Mancuso, Ligety are back
Julia Mancuso was an underdog going into the Torino Games, yet exited the event as a 21-year-old Olympic giant slalom champion. Now a proven winner on the World Cup, she enters the 2010 season following a winter that didn’t live up to her ability or expectations, which is more than enough motivation for Mancuso.
“Julia is the defending Olympic giant slalom champion and that’s something she’s serious about defending,” added Tracy. “She’s taking charge of her program and so are all the athletes on this Team. We now have a number of racers with the experience and talent to make their mark. That’s the tone we’re setting this season.”
Already a proven medal threat after stunning the 2006 Olympic field with a combined gold medal, Ted Ligety earned a bronze medal in giant slalom at the recent World Championships and is the discipline title winner from the 2008 World Cup season.
Joining Ligety are World Cup winners Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) and Steven Nyman (Provo, UT), along with a solid group of young guys eager to make a personal impact on international skiing. Last season, the men’s program produced the greatest finish in U.S. Ski Team history as five Americans finished in the top 10 during a downhill in Val Gardena, Italy.
“This is a larger Team than we’ve had in the past, but it’s still a very young team” said Men’s Alpine Head Coach Sasha Rearick. “The average age of the A Team is 26 and that says a lot about the future of this program. We also have a group of C Team athletes with tremendous talent and they’re going to push the other guys. It’s a good balance.”