U.S. Ski and Snowboard names 2021-2022 alpine team
11 members have a connection to the Vail Valley
U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced Wednesday the 44 athletes who have been selected to compete in the 2021-22 Olympic season. 11 of the A, B, C and Development Teams have a connection to the Vail Valley.
Headlining the group is two-time Olympic and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards. Shiffrin boasts 70 World Cup wins, 12 shy of the all-time record, held by Lindsey Vonn. A recent back issue has temporarily sidelined the star. Back in October, ESPN reported that it was her intent to race in all five individual Alpine events in Beijing. “Something I’m dreaming about right now is to be able to compete in each event in China,” Shiffrin said. “But that means I have to do a lot more preparation, mentally.”
Nina O’Brien, who also lists Edwards as her hometown, is looking to build off of last season, which saw her finish 15th in giant slalom on the overall World Cup list. In the 2021 World Championship giant slalom, the seven-time national champion was 0.02 seconds behind Shiffrin for the overall lead. An aggressive second run led to a mistake with seven gates remaining, ultimately resulting in O’Brien settling for 10th.
O’Brien told Ski Racing (SR) three weeks ago that she considers herself a top-15 GS skier and believes increased time and focus in the gym during the prep portion of the year, something the pandemic forced her into last year, was important in her improvement.
She replicated the approach during this summer, which she spent in Denver interning with a private equity firm and taking online classes from Dartmouth. According to Ski Racing Media’s article, O’Brien was often waking up at 5 a.m. for her first gym session.
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The strategy appears to be working so far, as she finished in 9th at the opening giant slalom event in Soelden, a race Shiffrin won.
O’Brien was confident going into the race, knowing her strengths were in her ability to handle differences in venues, snow, terrain and lane choices. Looking ahead at the year, the Burke Academy graduate intends to focus on the process.
“For me, breakovers are always something I am trying to get better at,” O’Brien said to SR before the race. “So anytime there is a transition from flat to steep, steep to flat, that’s a good place for me to make sure I’m on my game.”
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail alumni Paula Moltzan, who finished in the top-25 in the Soelden opener as well, is the third valley athlete on the women’s A team. The 2017 NCAA slalom champion from Prior Lake, Minnesota, has one podium and five top tens in her World Cup career. The 27-year old placed second in the Lech Zurs parallel giant slalom in 2021; the 2022 Lech Zurs parallel giant slalom is this weekend.
On the men’s side, River Radamus headlines the local contingent. His career-best 6th place finish in Soelden has fans hopeful that the two-time Junior World Champion can finally fill the boots of recent stars such as Ted Ligety and Bode Miller. In the Soelden opener, a high-speed save had media asking Radamus if he was trying to emulate Miller.
“I wasn’t trying to imitate anyone … I was just trying to make it down, to be honest with you,” he said in the U.S. ski team report. He continued, “I’m really trying to take that mentality — the fearless mentality—like Bode and a lot of guys from America have, so yeah — I’m really proud of the recoveries I had to make there. And I really hope to keep pushing the limit on the next run too.”
2021-2022 U.S. Alpine Ski Team – Vail Valley athletes
– Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail; Burke Mountain Academy/Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 3/13/1995)
– Nina O’Brien (Edwards; Burke Mountain Academy/Team Palisades Tahoe; 11/29/1997)
– Paula Moltzan (Prior Lake, Minnesota; Buck Hill Ski Team/Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and University of Vermont; 4/7/1994)
– Kyle Negomir (Littleton; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 10/3/1998)
– River Radamus (Edwards; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 2/12/1998)
– Bridger Gile (Aspen; Aspen Valley Ski Club/Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 10/15/1999)
– Nicola Rountree-Williams (Edwards; Loveland Ski Area; 7/7/2002)
– Allie Resnick (Vail; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 9/1/2001)
– Emma Resnick (Vail; Ski & Snowboard Club Vail; 7/23/2003)
– Ava Sunshine Jemison (Edwards; Burke Mountain Academy; 6/20/2002)*
– Trent Pennington (Shalimar, Florida; Ski and Snowboard Club Vail; 5/8/2002)