OUT OF THE GATE
Red White and Blue
New depth gives American men’s alpine squad
confidence for the season By Hank McKee
The U.S. Ski Team’s alpine squad scored a dozen wins last season. Eleven
of them came from Lindsey Vonn. That left one for the men: Ted Ligety’s
World Cup GS win at Kranjska Gora.
Bode Miller was second a total of three times — Levi’s slalom and in downhills at Val Gardena and Wengen — but Miller is not being counted on to
contribute this season. The loner is this nation’s most prolific victor, but his
traveling bus is for sale, he has no coach and, as far as anyone knows, he has
confined his training to ABC’s television spectacle “Superstars” and a handful of celebrity golf outings.
Ligety had a quartet of other GS podiums — second at Beaver Creek and
Are and third in the Soelden opener and in the World Championships. Marco Sullivan posted a third in the Wengen downhill.
It was the lowest World Cup point total since 2002 and some keys guys,
including Ligety, sustained injury.
So why is there is so much optimism among the men for the 2010 Olympic
One huge reason is depth. Nine guys made “A” team criteria; 22 made the
Another reason is that some of these 22 guys feel they got more to give.
“Sometime you need to have a few things click to break through,” said Tim
Jitloff recently. “I think I’m still in that break-through phase.”
Jit was fifth at Sestriere’s World Cup GS in late February. It was, he says,
one of the first times he felt comfortable enough after the first run to let it go
in the second. At the tail end of the team’s recently completed New Zealand
training session, he collected an important FIS race slalom win. It was not a
star-studded field, but it did give him a second FIS point race and, he said,
“got my slalom points back to normal.”
What is exciting Jitloff, he said, is his GS. “If we had to race tomorrow I’d
be ready to go,” he said. “Technically, last year, I still had some kinks to work
out to make it happen every time. At the end of last year, I started to find
that groove. I’m perfecting the technique and I’m stronger than I’ve ever
been. And mentally I have a lot of confidence in GS. I can go full gas and not
PE TER KORFLATIS/USSA