Getting to know the U.S. Ski Team

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Getting to know the U.S. Ski Team

The Americans are dominating the women’s World Cup speed
Everybody knows of Lindsey Vonn, the overall downhill champion the last five World Cup crystal globes. But the rest of the American roster is starting to turn heads on the downhill, too.
Julia Mancuso is a household name around the women’s World Cup circuit, but American teammates such as Stacey Cook, Alice McKennis, Laurenne Ross and Leanne Smith are serving notice.
American tennager Mikaela Shiffrin has joined USA stalwarts Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn in the top 10 of this year’s overall World Cup standings, and she leads the slalom standings after seven races.
Speed coach provides the skinny on the U.S. roster

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – American speed coach Chip White recently was asked to describe each of his athletes.

White obliged with a wise smile for each of them:



Julia Mancuso



“Julia Mancuso is a free spirit. She’s self-motivated, self-confident. She’s an amazing natural skier, coming from Squaw Valley, she skied big mountains growing up and has had a lot of fun skiing. I think that a lot of her success is because she loves the sport so much, and she loves just skiing in general – she’s not just a ski racer, even though she excels at it.”



Laurenne Ross



“She did get a haircut this year, but she used to be referred to as the hippy. She had long dreadlocks, so she had the hippy look, ring in her nose. She’s extremely intelligent, a very talented musician, everything that she touches she does very well. She does extremely well in all of her studies and taking college courses.

“She’s an athlete – like all of our athletes – that you can’t just pull the wool over their eyes and feed them a line on technique or tactics. Because of her intelligence, she’s a real thinker, and she won’t just buy it if it’s just giving her a line. She’ll say, ‘OK, tell me why and make me believe that that’s correct,’ which is great because it keeps us honest also.”



Leanne Smith



“She’s a funny character. ... She’s very self-confident and very self-motivated. She comes across as really tough girl and really strong, but she does have a soft side, and we see that sometimes. When she first started out with us, her answer to everything was, ‘I got it. I got it, I got it, I got it.’ She had all the answers, and she didn’t really listen.

“Unfortunately, she got injured (Smith tore her anterior cruciate ligament in Cortina in 2009), and when she came back from her injury she realized that she had some work to do, and she had a different sense of urgency. ... She realized that she needed to do more than, ‘I got it, I got it, I got it.’ And so she became a better student of the sport. She listened; she paid attention to video; she asked intelligent questions and really thought things through, and it changed her whole attitude and approach, and it was awesome to see. And since then her skiing has just been skyrocketing because she is now letting herself become a better skier.”



Alice McKennis



“She is a great gal. She’s very quiet and subdued, but she’s very funny in her own way. When we first saw her come to the team, to be honest I thought she had no chance. She could go straight, and she could make some big, sweeping turns, but technically she had a lot of work to do, and we were just going, ‘This is not the level of this team, and I just don’t see it happening.’ And every time I was about ready to write her off she would do something that was brilliant with her skiing, and you would just say, ‘She understands this; she’s just not doing it all the time.’

“She was not very athletic, either on or off the snow, and we spent a lot of time on her athleticism with dry-land training, and this made her become more body-aware, so she was able to move out of her own way because she was a little clumsy, and she’s getting better and better at having awareness at where every part of her body is. ... She has a race mode and a mindset of, ‘I can do this, and I will do this.’ She showed it in St. Anton.”



Stacey Cook



“She’s an extremely hard worker. She’s the same age as Lindsey and Julia, and she’s very self-motivated, very professional. As far as her work ethic goes, it’s second to none. Lindsey works extremely hard and people talk about how hard she works off the snow, and Stacey is exactly the same, just Lindsey gets publicity about it and Stacey doesn’t. She’s like a little fire hydrant – strong, stout, really sturdy. She’s solid. She has been skiing so well for such a long time, but what she does is she trains really well, but then on race day she tries to do something different, and that usually is her demise, then she goes and blows it. ... Toward the end of last season she really started to show consistency and great skiing.”



Lindsey Vonn



“She gets a lot of publicity in lot of different directions. I have to say all my experiences with her have been nothing but positive. She’s a talented, hard-working athlete, and she’s also a very nice person, and the people that see some other side to it don’t know her. She’s friendly, she’s generous, she’s appreciative and helpful to her teammates and supportive of her teammates. She’s great with little kids and things like that, and anybody that has something negative to say about her doesn’t know her.”

World Cup Ski Racing

Women’s Downhill Standings

(after 5 of 8 races)



1. Lindsey Vonn, USA, 340.

2. Stacey Cook, USA, 211.

3. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 189.

4. Alice McKennis, USA, 180.

5. Anna Fenninger, Austria, 179.

Also:

6. Leanne Smith, USA, 167.

11. Julia Mancuso, USA, 142.

21. Laurenne Ross, USA, 86.



Women’s Overall Standings

(after 23 of 38 events)



1. Tina Maze, Slovenia, 1,474 points.

2. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Germany, 756.

3. Anna Fenninger, Austria, 644.

4. Lindsey Vonn, USA, 640.

5. Kathrin Zettel, Austria, 597.

Also:



7. Mikaela Shiffrin, USA, 526.

8. Julia Mancuso, USA, 521.



17. Leanne Smith, USA, 255.

21. Stacey Cook, USA, 224.

26. Alice McKennis, USA, 180.

35. Laurenne Ross, USA, 158.

73. Resi Stiegler, USA, 38.



Associated Press

Getting to know the U.S. Ski Team

Everybody knows of Lindsey Vonn, the overall downhill champion the last five World Cup crystal globes. But the rest of the American roster is starting to turn heads on the downhill, too.
Julia Mancuso is a household name around the women’s World Cup circuit, but American teammates such as Stacey Cook, Alice McKennis, Laurenne Ross and Leanne Smith are serving notice.
American tennager Mikaela Shiffrin has joined USA stalwarts Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn in the top 10 of this year’s overall World Cup standings, and she leads the slalom standings after seven races.
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