U.S. Ski Team named for 2014-15 season
COPPER MOUNTAIN — Hundreds of cheering fans ushered in the U.S. Ski Team on Saturday, as the team was officially named for the 2014-15 season.
This year’s team naming ceremony was especially significant for the U.S. Ski Team athletes and their fans, as many of the athletes named will also compete on home snow at the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships in Beaver Creek in February.
After making their way through a tunnel of fans to the stage at the base of the public ski area at Copper Mountain, Lindsey Vonn, Bode Miller, Mikaela Shiffrin, Ted Ligety and Andrew Weibrecht spoke to the crowd about the significance of the 2014-15 season.
“I’m about as excited as you can be,” Shiffrin said. “World Championships are in my home town in Vail/Beaver Creek.”
Vonn seemed to garner the most cheers from fans, who were excited about what the superstar’s season can bring now that she’s recovered from a knee injury sustained in February of 2013.
“I’m back and I’m ready for the season,” Vonn said to an explosion of cheers. “The World Championships are at home, and that’s what kept me going.”
While it was a “Born in the USA” mashup playing on the speakers during the U.S. Ski Team announcement, the crowd was an international one.
Members of the Tokai University ski team out of Japan scurried through the crowd, and watching from a distance, Sarah Schleper of the Mexican Ski Team enjoyed the celebration.
Schleper is a Vail native slalom and giant slalom skier who competed at the ‘98, ‘02, ‘06 and ‘10 Olympics, and has returned to the sport to compete at the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships for Team Mexico. Schleper’s husband, Federico Gaxiola, is a Mexican national.
Pulling Schleper aside for a picture was Camlyn Goosen, 14, of Johannesburg, South Africa. Goosen won’t be able to see Schleper compete in February because she’ll be ski racing in Turkey and Croatia during the World Championships. Regardless, said her father, Warwick Goosen, it’s still very exciting for ski racing fans to see a U.S. racer branch out into the rest of the Americas for World Championships.
“It is so cool how she’s competing for the Mexicans now,” Warwick Goosen said.
Young racers like Goosen were sharing the training grounds at Copper Mountain with the pro skiers during the week.
“I’ve run into a couple kids up there already, sorry about that,” Bode Miller told the crowd.
The U.S. Team will continue to train at Copper Sunday before Shiffrin, Ligety and the technical specialists on the team head to Levi, Finland for the first slalom of the 2014-15 World Cup season. Shiffrin and the women race Nov. 15, Ligety and the men race Nov. 16.