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Local athletes abound on U.S. Alpine Ski Team ahead of World Cup opener in Soelden

October 20, 2022, 7:14 am
The World Cup kicks off this weekend in Soelden, Austria (FIS photo).

In a press release, U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Thursday announced its U.S. Alpine Ski Team, including several athletes with strong local ties — from Mikaela Shiffrin to Ava Sunshine Jemison to Allie Resnick — and the International Ski Federation issued a release on the season-opening World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria. First, the U.S. Ski Team release:

U.S. Ski & Snowboard officially announced the 43 athletes of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team for the 2022-23 season.  

Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin, 2022 Olympic silver medalist Ryan Cochran-Siegle and seven-time World Cup downhill podium finisher Breezy Johnson highlight the deep list of talented alpine athletes representing the U.S. Alpine Ski Team this season. 

B Team nominations are led by Ava Sunshine Jemison, Lauren Macuga and Allie Resnick’s leap from the D Team based on their solid and consistent results during the 2021-22 season, highlighted by Jemison’s silver medal in the super-G and Macuga’s bronze in the downhill at the 2022 FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships. Joining the B-team crew is the 2022 Junior World Super-G champion, Isaiah Nelson. 

Camden Palmquist, Jay Poulter and Cooper Puckett are moving from the D Team to the C Team for the 2022-23 season, while D Team nominations include three fresh faces—Elisabeth Bocock, Kaitlin Keane, and Kjersti Moritz. 

The FIS Alpine Ski World Cup kicks off with a weekend of giant slalom in Soelden, Austria October 22-23 before heading to Zermatt/Cervinia, Switzerland/Italy for a debut downhill on the tour on October 29-30 for men and November 5-6 for women. The 2023 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships are scheduled for February 6-19 in Courchevel/Meribel, France.

This season will also feature four World Cups in the United States, including the women’s slalom and giant slalom races at the Heroic Killington Cup November 26-27, the Xfinity Birds of Prey men’s speed events at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado December 3-5, the men’s tech series in Palisades Tahoe, California February 25-26, and a men’s speed series in Aspen, Colorado March 3-4. 

“We’re really looking forward to the season starting and are ready to hit the ground running starting here in Soelden on October 22,” says Alpine Director Patrick Riml. “This year, we have a solid group of veterans who are consistently improving and an extremely talented group of young athletes climbing the ranks throughout all disciplines. The future of alpine skiing in America is looking very promising.”

Head over to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard website for a full list of athletes on the A, B, C and D teams as well as the staff and coaches supporting the athletes for the 2022-23 season.

Now the Audi FIS World Cup press release:

The wait is over. The conditions are set. The world’s very best Alpine skiers are ready. 

And on 22 and 23 October the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season 2022-23 will start in style in Sölden (AUT) with women’s and men’s giant slalom. 

Public primed to get the party started

After two tough years adhering to strict Covid-19 restrictions, spectators are once again expected to flood to the traditional World Cup-opener on the slopes of Austria’s famous Rettenbach Glacier. 

The prospect of packed stands and cheering fans has only added to the levels of anticipation ahead of what looks certain to be another thrilling season. 

Specialists face Shiffrin while chasing pack look strong

There is perhaps no better race to kick-off with than the women’s giant slalom. Just seven months ago the evergreen Tessa Worley (FRA) pipped Sweden’s reigning Olympic champion Sara Hector at the post to grab the Crystal Globe. The pair went head-to-head all season with the Frenchwoman eventually emerging victorious by a margin of just 27 points after finishing inside the top eight in all nine of her World Cup races. 

But the two specialists are far from the only contenders for glory with the most familiar of all names top of the list of likely challengers. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) not only won her fourth Overall World Cup title last season, she is also the defending giant slalom champion in Sölden. 

The skier, who currently has 74 World Cup wins to her name, finished just ahead of perennial rivals Lara Gut-Behrami (SUI) and Petra Vlhova (SVK) 12 months ago to claim her 14th career World Cup giant slalom victory and her second on the Rettenbach. With Gut-Behrami and Vlhova the respective 2021 and 2019 giant slalom world champions a repeat podium is a distinct possibility. 

Italian pair Marta Bassino, the 2021-22 giant slalom Crystal Globe winner, and Federica Brignone will be among those out to disrupt proceedings while Switzerland’s Michelle Gisin will again be a threat after an impressive six top-10 giant slalom World Cup finishes in 2021-22. 

Odermatt irresistible but Pinturault waiting to pounce

On the men’s side all eyes will be on Marco Odermatt (SUI) as he steps up to the start gate. The Swiss ace proved untouchable in giant slalom last season, winning both the World Cup and Beijing 2022 Olympic Games titles. 

Dig a little deeper and it only gets more worrying for his rivals. Out of the eight 2021-22 World Cup giant slalom races, the 25 year old won five and finished on the podium in the other three. Such irresistible form started in Sölden and it is hard to look past the prodigy once again. 

Not that such thoughts will be in the mind of Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR). The 28-year-old leads the charge for The Attacking Vikings. Second to Odermatt in the overall standings in 2021-22, Kristoffersen has seven World Cup giant slalom wins to his name so far. Although he has yet to triumph in the season-opening event. 

No such issues for compatriot Lucas Braathen. He claimed his maiden World Cup crown on the Austrian slopes back in 2020 and followed it up with two podium places last season. The 21-year-old Alexander Steen Olsen rounds off the Norwegian challenge. In March he claimed both the giant slalom and slalom Junior World Ski Championship gold medals and is undoubtedly a name to watch.

It has been eight long years since the Austrian crowd have been able to cheer a home champion but Manuel Feller (AUT) is well-placed to end that painful wait. Third in the overall standings last year following three podium places and a further three top-10 finishes, there could be nowhere better for the 30-year-old to claim his first ever giant slalom World Cup win. 

Finally, Alexis Pinturault (FRA) may not be an Austrian native but the Frenchman can certainly claim to have a long-standing love affair with the Sölden slopes. In eight races on the Rettenbach glacier the 31 year old has a remarkable record of two triumphs, three podium places and a further three top-five finishes. With the Courchevel-Meribel 2023 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships looming large on the horizon Pinturault has it all to aim for. 

After seven months of waiting, do not look away. The World Cup is back. 

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