Miller, Shiffrin, headline US Sochi alpine team
US Bode Miller holds trophy on the podium on January 26, 2014 after the FIS men's Alpine ski World Cup Super G in Kitzbuehel - by Samuel Kubani
The American alpine skiers will be trying to improve on the eight medals they won at the 2010 Vancouver Games -- twice as many as any other country and the most in US history.
However, they'll have to do it without superstar Lindsey Vonn, who won two of those medals but had already lost her bid to be fit for Sochi after reconstructive knee surgery in the wake of her crash at the World Championships last February.
Women's alpine head coach Alex Hoedlmoser acknowledged Sunday that Vonn's absence from pre-season training and her abortive bid to compete this season had contributed to a slow World Cup start for US women.
But he said the American team, which also features three-time Olympic medallist Julia Mancuso and Stacey Cook, were coming into their own just in time with the Games due to start on February 7.
"I'm proud of the progress this team has made the closer we get to Sochi," he said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but the potential for success is certainly there.
"Sochi is a totally different thing and the chances are there for champion performances."
Miller, Ted Ligety and Mancuso have all won Olympic gold while 18-year-old Shiffrin is a world champion.
Miller, 36, will be skiing in his fifth Olympics and will be the oldest US Alpine skier to compete in the Games. His five Olympic medals are the most for an American alpine skier.
At Kitzbuehel this weekend, he came away with a second and third place in World Cup races.
Ligety is going to his third Olympics. The 2006 combined gold medalist is a medal contender in the giant slalom and super combined.
In 2013, he became the first man in 45 years to win three gold medals at a single world championships.
Mancuso, a three-time Olympic medalist, is going to her fourth Olympics. The 2006 giant slalom gold medalist notched her first three top-10s of this World Cup season in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, last week but is still seeking her first podium of the campaign.
Shiffrin, 18, is the reigning world and World Cup champion in the slalom.
She again leads this season’s slalom standings and will go into Sochi as the favorite in that event.
The 20 alpine skiers named Sunday are part of a 94-strong squad that will represent the United States in all ski and snowboard disciplines at Sochi.