Tommy Ford, Bend, Ore., 20
He is the “wunderkind” of the U.S. team, the can’t-miss prospect, and the
team cannot be faulted for wanting to get him some big event exposure.
He’s just 20 and has had only four World Cup results, mostly starting with
the letter “D” as in Did Not Finish or Did Not Qualify. The one he did finish,
however, was the Alta Badia GS, among the toughest races to score in on the
World Cup circuit. Add to this the observation the U.S. men have not done
well in GS this season despite having two of the best GS skiers in the world.
There is just one guy on the team with a better finish in GS than Ford’s 24th,
and that’s Ted Ligety. Tommy also added a 21st place GS finish at Kranjska
Gora and gets World Junior Champs experience before the Games.
Nolan Kasper, Warren, Vt., 20
Here’s the feel-good story of the Olympic selections. Five NorAm podiums, a FIS-B win and two Europa Cup top 10’s earned him the start in the
Kitzbuehel slalom and he got a second run and a 27th place finish. From
that frying pan he went directly into the fire of the Schladming slalom, and
— despite a first run error that put him on his hip and a second run error
that forced him to take a flush backwards — he continued, nonplussed, to
place 24th. Besides Ligety and Cochran, he is the only American to finish
two slaloms this season.
GEPA ( 3)
Tim Jitloff, Reno, Nev., 25
He is the second-ranked U.S. skier on the World Cup GS start list in 35th
place, so he would get a great start position in that event at the Games
considering the Austrians, Swiss and French all have more than four men
ranked better and only four allotted start positions. That said, he’s fourth-ranked among the U.S. in the standings, and Bode Miller hasn’t scored a
GS point but will have to be at least considered for a start. Jit also has some
slalom prowess, but hasn’t shown much since his lone Cup score in 2008.
Ted Ligety, Park City, Utah, 25.
Competed in 2006 Games (gold medal combined)
He comes in with a gold medal. But it’s in combined, not in GS, where he
will be a favorite, or in super G, where he flashed incredible ability early
this season. The attitude has been to assure the confidence will be high for
the Games, and as such there have been specific times Ligety has skied for
a result rather than a win — Wengen, Kitzbuehel and Schladming among
them — and until Kranjska Gora he hadn’t had a GS to race in for a month.
This is a primary medal contender in at least two and maybe three events.
He won’t be holding anything back at the Games.