WHAT A HOOT
THE U.S. SKI TEAM OFFICIALLY ENTERS A NEW ERA AT BIRDS
OF PREY, DELIGHTING FANS BY HANK MCKEE
It’s a good time to be an American ski racing fan.
BEAVER CREEK — When Ted Ligety fell 0.16 of a second shy of winning the
first GS at Beaver Creek, the third of six races being held here, the response of
the crowd was a collective expulsion of breath. It was an automatic expression
Apparently, it is easy to get used to winning.
Through the first week of December, the U.S. alpine team has won eight World
Cup races. Just a decade ago, that would rank fifth-best for a full season’s
worth of victories. Make no mistake — these are the good old days. Eight is
more wins than any previous American squad has acquired through the month
of December. It is the fastest start in history and it is attracting attention.
The top two U.S. winners of all time are both active skiers, Lindsey Vonn and
Bode Miller. There are others currently on the team who have all the potential
to move close to the top of that list.
Ligety leads the World Cup GS standings and now owns more GS wins than
any American in history. More than Bode Miller. More than Phil Mahre. Lindsey
Vonn has already set the U.S. mark this season for consecutive victories with
four straight wins, sweeping Lake Louise and the historic first women’s race
down the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey course. She is tied with Katja Seizinger
for the most super G wins of any woman in history and is matched with Renate
Goetschl at third on the all-time, all-discipline win mark. She has won 14 of the
last 19 super G races. She is one behind Goetschl for second on the all-time
downhill win list.
This is not the late 1980s, when the team went three straight seasons without
a win. In those days, a second-place result would have been celebrated at the
team hotel. This is good stuff. Stuff to be savored. And there are signs of depth
developing as well. Mikaela Shiffrin and Ryan Cochran-Siegle are coming on