U.S. racers chase World Cup podium in Aspen

Mikaela Shiffrin rips some GS on the Nature Valley Aspen Winternational race hill during training. Photo courtesy Jeremy Swanson, Aspen/Snowmass.

Lindsey Vonn still a question mark for this weekend’s gate races

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The World Cup makes its annual early season stops in Colorado the next few weeks, beginning with a pair of women’s races in Aspen this weekend, followed by Beaver Creek races in early December.

The races won’t be hampered by a lack of early season snow thanks to prodigious, targeted snowmaking, but the TV cameras will have to zoom in tight on the race courses to avoid showing the snowless brown hills all around. Ironically, the early season races in Colorado were slotted into the World Cup schedule years ago because of concerns about snow conditions at other venues, but this is the second year in a row that Colorado is seeing an early season snow drought.

Notwithstanding, race fans will be watching Mikaela Shiffrin, Julia Mancuso  and potentially Lindsey Vonn tackle a pair gate events at Aspen.

Vonn, who was walloped last week with a stomach illness, returned to gate training on Nov. 18, but remains day-to-day on whether she’ll start in Aspen.

Mancuso has been training in Colorado since early November and was third in the Aspen giant slalom last season.

I love racing in Aspen, it’s such a fun town and close to my home in Squaw Valley. It’s a really difficult hill, really steep … you can’t relax. You have to go at it until you finish, Mancuso said. “Mikaela Shiffrin is doing awesome so she’s the one to look out for. I have to watch my back so she doesn’t beat me,” she asaid.

Shiffrin carries momentum from a third place slalom finish two weeks ago in Finland.

The atmosphere in Aspen is amazing. It feels like home and is one of my favorite race hills,” said Shiffrin. “But it’s also one of the most difficult; the slalom hill is technical and has a lot of terrain that begins with the steepest start on the World Cup circuit. The giant slalom course is also incredibly tough. It has even more terrain than the slalom course with multiple pitch changes and a lot of blind break overs. It’s one of those courses that you really need to inspect,” she said.

The event also marks the World Cup return of Resi Stiegler, who tore her ACL at the March World Cup Finals. NBC and NBC Sports Network will carry TV coverage from Aspen beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Nov. 25 with the second run of slalom airing live on NBC Sports Network at 3 p.m. ET.

Lindsey has been training since Sunday and continues to regain her strength,” said head coach Alex Hoedlmoser. “Luckily we still have a few more days for her to be on snow before Aspen, but it is still day-to-day on whether she will be able to start,” he said. “Julia has done an incredible job preparing for another podium in Aspen and Mikaela is skiing very well. She already has a podium this season and should have the confidence to go all out and show how good she is.”

  • NBC and NBC Sports Network will carry TV coverage from Aspen on Nov. 25 beginning at 1 p.m. ET with the second run of slalom airing live on NBC Sports Network at 3 p.m. ET.
  • Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO), who has been hampered by illness, will be on the start list for Aspen, but remains day-to-day on competing.
  • Giant slalom starters are Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA), Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO), Julia Ford (Plymouth, NH), Megan McJames (Park City, UT) and Abby Ghent (Edwards, CO).
  • Slalom starters are Mancuso, Shiffrin, Ford, Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) Hailey Duke (Boise, ID) and Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN).
  • It will be the first World Cup starts for Ghent and Moltzan.
  • A complete Nature Valley Aspen Winternational schedule can be found at www.aspensnowmass.com.

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