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good luck to our local athletes competing in the olympic winter games!

liFe’s delicious up here Ullr Nights, Elk Camp, Snowmass - Every Friday night through March 28 from 5:30 - 9:30 pm Guests and locals alike are encouraged to light up the night with friends and family while enjoying old-fashioned winter outdoor activities such as a visit to the Volcano, the tubing hill, snowbiking, s’mores and hot chocolate by the bonfire and ice skating. 970-923-1227 | www.aspensnowmass.com/ullrnights

Snowbiking at Ullr Nights Join us for snowbike tours every Friday at Ullr Nights! Meet at Snowmass Base Village at 5:15 pm. Must be an intermediate skier/rider. Minimum age is 12 years old. $69 - includes bike, tour, lift. Bring your own ski/snowboard boots and helmet. Reservations required. 970-923-1227, www.aspensnowmass.com/ullrnights

ski & snowboard school Group and Private Lessons No matter how good you are, a little coaching can go a long way. Get more enjoyment out of skiing or snowboarding by mastering a new skill or refining your technique with a Group Lesson. With a passionate, supportive Pro leading the way, you’ll build your confidence and enjoy skiing more than ever. Our private lessons mix intensive, personalized learning with the freedom to explore any of the four mountains with a dedicated Pro. Elevate your skiing or riding while you discover the best runs on the mountain. 970-923-1227 | www.aspensnowmass.com/schools

Four-mountain sports Four-Mountain Sports has nine rental locations to choose from, making it easy to pick up and return at location of choice. Also, making it easier for you to switch out equipment to suit the days conditions or your preferences. When you rent with Four-Mountain Sports, you receive FREE overnight transfer to each of our four mountains (normally $11). FREE overnight storage too at the base of each mountain (normally $8). Choose from the biggest selection of ski’s from: K2, Nordica, Kastle, Salomon, Volkl, Rossignol and snowboards from: Burton, Gnu, K2, Never Summer, High Society, Arbor and Capita. Make sure to check out D&E in the Aspen and Snowmass Village Mall locations, together with our own Helly Hansen concept shop in Aspen. 970-920-2337 | www.aspensnowmass.com/rentals 15% off 4+ days of rentals • 20% off tuning & repairs 20% off aspen/snowmass merchandise* Excludes Mountain Hardwear, Helly Hansen & Thread. Please present coupon for discount. Expires 4/20/14 #169

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The World’s Greatest Snowboard Event

9875710 V ail, C olorad o burton March 3̶8 2014

Schedule of Events COMPETITIONS AT GOLDEN PEAK Semifinals

Finals

Slopestyle Semifinals / Wed., March 5

Slopestyle Finals / Fri., March 7

Women: 10am

Women: 11:30am

Men: 12:30pm

Men: 2pm

Halfpipe Semifinals / Thur., March 6

Halfpipe Finals / Sat., March 8

Women: 10am

Women: 11:30am

Men: 12:30pm

Men: 2pm

ENTERTAINMENT AT SOLARIS Olympic Athlete Celebration / Wednesday, March 5, 6-7pm, Solaris Stage Big Gigantic / Friday, March 7, 6-10pm, Solaris Stage Capital Cities / Saturday, March 8, 6-10pm, Solaris Stage US Open Closing Party / Saturday, March 8, 10pm-2am, Dobson Ice Arena

H a l f p i p e

14USO_VailDailyAd_wSponsors_10x13.indd 1

E n t e r t a i n m e n t

S l o p e s t y l e

1/29/14 10:14 AM

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Photo of Andrew Weibrecht by Jonathan Selkowitz.

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ASPEN VALLEY SKI AND SNOWBOARD CLUB CONGRATULATES OUR 2014 WINTER OLYMPIANS!

GOOD LUCK IN SOCHI!

Noah Hoffman Cross Country Skiing

Torin Yater-Wallace Freeskiing

RECIPE FOR AN OLYMPIAN:

Simi Hamilton Cross Country Skiing

Dow Travers Alpine Skiing m) an (Caym Islands Olympic Tea

• Opportunity. Every child in the Roaring Fork Valley shoul d be able to participate in snow sports. • Excellence. No athlete should have to leave Aspen for training to reach his or her full potential. • Values. Every member will practice our core values of commitment, teamwork and integrity. AT AVSC, WE STRIVE TO PRODUCE GREAT KIDS WITH OLYMPIC-SIZED VALUES. SHARE IN THE EXCITEMENT AND DONATE TODAY! CONTACT BARB ARA FRANK AT (970) 205-5102 OR VISIT WWW.TEAMAVSC.ORG Photos courtesy Sarah Brunson/USST, NBC Olympics/U SOC, Katie Ryan

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Viewer’s Guide

The Aspen Times The Summit Daily News The Vail Daily

LINEUP

Publishers Gunilla Asher – Aspen gasher@aspentimes.com Matt Sandberg – Summit msandberg@summitdaily.com Don Rogers – Vail drogers@vaildaily.com Editor Ed Stoner estoner@vaildaily.com Contributing Writers Ed StoneR John LaConte Geoff Mintz

8 Welcome letter

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profile:

10 TV schedule

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preview:

16 Sochi: The venues, city and region

39

profile:

18

preview:

Men’s alpine speed team

40

preview:

snowboard association

19

profile:

Travis Ganong

41

profile:

Copy Editor Ross Leonhart

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preview:

42

preview:

Creative Team Supervisor Afton Groepper

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profile:

43

profile:

24

preview:

44

preview:

25

profile:

Tim Jitloff

45

profile:

Keri Herman

26

profile:

Ted Ligety

46

profile:

Katie Uhlaender

Advertising Directors David Laughren – Aspen dlaughren@aspentimes.com

28

profile:

Julia Mancuso

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preview:

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cover story:

Jason Woodside – Summit jwoodside@summitdaily.com

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preview:

Contributing Photographers Brent Bingham Dominique Taylor Associated Press Tripp Fay / copper mountain Mitchell Gunn / espa Sarah Brunson / u.s. ski and

Publication Designer Carly Hoover Contributing Designers ASHLEY DETMERING Malisa Samsel

Women’s alpine speed team Stacey Cook Alpine tech team

Mikaela Shiffrin

Nordic skiing

Noah Hoffman Snowboard halfpipe

Kaitlyn Farrington Freeskiing halfpipe

David Wise Snowboard slopestyle

Jamie Anderson Skiing slopestyle

Skicross and snowboardcross, ski jumping, figure skating, ice hockey, moguls and aerials, curling, speed skating, bobsled, luge and skeleton.

50 2010 medals count

Patrick Connolly – Vail pconnolly@vaildaily.com Distribution Maria Wimmer – Aspen Shawn Butler – Summit David Hakes – Vail

Printed in Gypsum, CO, by Colorado Mountain News Media 200 Lindbergh Drive | P.O. Box 1500 Gypsum, Colorado 81637 Copyright ©2014 Colorado Mountain News Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited.

ABOVE IMAGE

ON THE COVER

Olympic rings in downtown Sochi await the start of the Games. The Opening Ceremony will be Feb. 7, while the Closing Ceremony is set for Feb. 23. sochi organizing committee | special photo PB

Mikaela Shiffrin as photographed by Brent Bingham at his studio located in Edwards, Colo. Learn more about Shiffrin and her rise to fame on page 32. W I N T E R O LY M P I C S 201 4

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2014 winter olympics “we help injured people” Auto & Motorcycle Accidents • dog Bites ski & snowBoArd injuries • workers’ coMp slip & FAlls And other serious injuries edwArds & denver oFFices 970.926.1700 | VailJustice.com riverwAlk in edwArds, eMerAld Bldg. unit g-1

DOES YOUR DOG: Seem stiff when getting up? Slow down when walking? Have arthritis which still hurts? Get help with the pain management / performance medicine experts!

PROVIDING: • Computerized Gait Analysis for early detection of limb and back abnormalities • State of the art stem cell therapy • Advanced drug therapy • Therapeutic laser for muscle and joint soreness • Logical approach to nutraceuticals • PAIN MANAGEMENT, performance medicine arthritis prevention state of the art therapies

…helping make champions at home, work and in the field! For information www.PeakVets.com • 719-330-5608 • 719-266-6400 To schedule an appointment: www.eznetscheduler.com/calendar/ppvg Peak Performance Veterinary Group at Frisco Animal Hospital 700 North Summit Boulevard • Frisco, CO 80443

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As an Aspen native, I know the spirit of community and Olympism that lives in mountain towns. It becomes very emotional every four years during the Olympic Winter Games. We’re taking a well prepared team to Sochi — each of those athletes coming out of a town just like yours that carries the belief in athletes and makes a commitment to support the dreams of their hometown heroes. It’s because of partnerships in these passionate mountain communities that the athletes of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing have been able to reach the highest levels of their sports. From working together at the club level to create the next generation of Olympians to putting on world class events at resorts like Aspen, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Squaw Valley, Heavenly or Northstar, it’s the committed volunteers, coaches and supporters who make Olympic dreams possible. These partnerships are key to making U.S. athletes Best in the World. An athlete doesn’t reach the pinnacle of his or her sport alone. Jimmie Heuga — who stepped onto the Olympic podium 50 years ago this winter — credited his success to the people of Squaw Valley and his adopted hometown of Aspen. I never would have been able to make the 1964 Olympic Team without the community of Aspen cheering me on and helping me out every step of the way. Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso both got their start at the club level. Neither of them would have been able to climb the podium without Ski & Snowboard Club Vail or the Squaw Valley Ski Team behind them! Parents in communities like yours have a great opportunity. When your child is watching the Olympics, take it a step further and bring them to the slopes. Let them take advantage of the USSA clubs, resorts and people who can help instill in them a lifelong love of sport. In 2010, the USA experienced its greatest Olympic success ever, thanks to all of the hard work from parents, coaches, friends and supporters like you. I look forward to seeing even more great things come from these partnerships as we move into 2014. Enjoy the Olympics on NBC, with coverage from Feb. 6-23. Bill Marolt President and CEO U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association

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(Subject to Change)

Thursday, Feb. 6

NBC 7-10 p.m. — Figure Skating - (Team Event: Men’s Short Program, Pairs’ Short Program); Men’s and Women’s Snowboarding - Slopestyle Competition 12:35-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore

Friday, Feb. 7

NBC 6:30-10:30 p.m. — Opening Ceremony 12:05-4 a.m. — Primetime Encore

Saturday, Feb. 8

NBC 1:30-5 p.m. — Men’s Ski Jumping Individual K-95 Competition; Men’s Biathlon - 10km Sprint Gold Medal Final; Men’s Speedskating - 5000 Gold Medal Final; Women’s Cross-Country Skiathlon Gold Medal Final 7-10:30 p.m. — Figure Skating - (Team Event: Ice Dancing Short Dance, Ladies’ Short Program, Pairs’ Free Skate); Men’s Snowboarding - Slopestyle Gold Medal Final; Women’s Freestyle Skiing Moguls Gold Medal Final 11 p.m.-Midnight — Figure Skating - Team Event; Men’s Luge - Singles Competition 12-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey United States vs. Finland (LIVE) 3:30-7:30 a.m. — Women’s CrossCountry - Skiathlon Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Men’s Speedskating - 5000 Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 7:30-9 a.m. — Figure Skating - (Team Event: Ice Dancing Short Dance-LIVE) 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Figure Skating - (Team Event: Ladies’ Short ProgramLIVE, Pairs’ Free Skate-LIVE) 4-6 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 6-8:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey Canada vs. Switzerland (LIVE)

Sunday, Feb. 9

NBC 1-5 p.m. — Women’s Biathlon - 7.5km Sprint Gold Medal Final; Men’s Luge - Singles Gold Medal Final Runs; Women’s Speedskating - 3000 Gold Medal Final; Men’s Cross-Country Skiathlon Gold Medal Final 6-10 p.m. — Figure Skating - (Team Event Gold Medal Final: Men’s Free Skate, Ladies’ Free Skate, Ice Dancing Free Dance); Men’s Alpine Skiing Downhill Gold Medal Final; Women’s Snowboarding - Slopestyle Gold Medal Final; Men’s Ski Jumping - Individual

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on air

K-95 Gold Medal Final 10:35 p.m.-11:35 p.m. — Figure Skating - Team Event Gold Medal Final Postgame 11:35 p.m.-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey Sweden vs. Japan (LIVE) 3:30-6:30 a.m. — Men’s CrossCountry - Skiathlon Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Women’s Speedskating - 3000 Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 6:30-8 a.m. — Men’s Luge - Singles Competition (LIVE) 8 a.m.-11 a.m. — Figure Skating - Team Event Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 11 a.m.-12 p.m. — Men’s Ski Jumping Individual K-95 Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 2-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 6-8:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey Russia vs. Germany (LIVE)

Monday, Feb. 10

NBC 2-4 p.m. — Men’s Speedskating - 500 Gold Medal Final; Men’s Biathlon 12.5km Pursuit Gold Medal Final 7-10:30 p.m. — Women’s Alpine Skiing - Super Combined Gold Medal Final; Men’s Freestyle Skiing - Moguls Gold Medal Final; Men’s Short Track - 1500 Gold Medal Final 11:05 p.m.-12:05 a.m. — Women’s Short Track - Competition; Women’s Luge - Competition 12:05-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3 a.m. — Men’s Curling - Germany vs. Canada 3-5:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey United States vs. Switzerland (LIVE) 5:30-9:15 a.m. — Men’s Speedskating - 500 Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 9:15 a.m.-1 p.m. — Women’s Luge Competition (LIVE); Women’s Curling - Sweden vs. Britain 1-3 p.m. — Curling Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey - Finland vs. Canada (LIVE) CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Norway USA 3-6 a.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. Switzerland

Tuesday, Feb. 11

NBC 3-5 p.m. — Men’s and Women’s CrossCountry - Individual Sprint Gold Medal Finals; Women’s Luge - Gold Medal Final Runs 7-10:30 p.m. — Men’s Snowboarding

- Halfpipe Gold Medal Final; Figure Skating - Pairs’ Short Program; Women’s Freestyle Skiing - Slopestyle Gold Medal Final; Women’s Ski Jumping - Individual K-95 Gold Medal Final 11:05 p.m.-12:05 a.m. — Women’s Speedskating - 500 Gold Medal Final; Women’s Biathlon - 10km Pursuit Gold Medal Final 12:05-5:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 3-6 a.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. Russia 6-10 a.m. — Men’s and Women’s CrossCountry - Individual Sprint Gold Medal Finals (LIVE) 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. — Figure Skating Pairs’ Short Program (LIVE) 1:30-3 p.m. — Women’s Ski Jumping Individual K-95 Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Women’s Speedskating - 500 Gold Medal Final 5-7 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Women’s Hockey - Russia vs. Japan (LIVE) CNBC 5-8 p.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. Britain USA 5-8 a.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. China (LIVE)

Wednesday, Feb. 12

NBC 2-4 p.m. — Men’s Nordic Combined Individual K-95 Gold Medal Final 7-10:30 p.m. — Women’s Alpine Skiing - Downhill Gold Medal Final; Figure Skating - Pairs’ Gold Medal Final; Women’s Snowboarding - Halfpipe Gold Medal Final; Men’s Speedskating 1000 Gold Medal Final 11:05 p.m.-12:05 a.m. — Luge Doubles Gold Medal Final Runs 12:05-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3:30 a.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Denmark 3:30-5 a.m. — Men’s Nordic Combined - Individual K-95, Ski Jumping 5-8 a.m. — Women’s Hockey - Canada vs. United States (LIVE) 8 a.m.-12 p.m. — Figure Skating - Pairs’ Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Men’s Nordic Combined - Individual K-95, CrossCountry 12-1 p.m. — Luge - Doubles Gold Medal Final Runs 3:30-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 1-3:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey Switzerland vs. Finland (LIVE) 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Latvia vs. Switzerland (LIVE) CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Men’s Curling - Switzerland

vs. Britain USA 3-6 a.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. China (LIVE) 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Hockey - Czech Republic vs. Sweden (LIVE)

Thursday, Feb. 13

NBC 2-4 p.m. ��� Men’s Biathlon - 20km Individual Gold Medal Final; Women’s Skeleton - Competition 7-10:30 p.m. — Men’s Figure Skating Short Program; Men’s Freestyle Skiing - Slopestyle Gold Medal Final; Women’s Short Track - 500 Gold Medal Final; Women’s Speedskating - 1000 Gold Medal Final 11:05 p.m.-12:05 a.m. — Luge - Team Relay Gold Medal Final Runs; Men’s Short Track - 5000 Relay Competition 12:05-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3:30 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Finland vs. Austria (LIVE) 3:30-5:30 a.m. — Women’s CrossCountry - 10km Classical Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Women’s Skeleton Competition 5:30-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Slovakia vs. United States (LIVE) 10-11:45 a.m. — Men’s Figure Skating Short Program Part 1 (LIVE) 9:45 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Figure Skating - Short Program Part 2 (LIVE) 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 5:30-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Russia vs. Slovenia (LIVE) 8 a.m.-10 a.m. — Men’s Curling Canada vs. Denmark 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Women’s Hockey - Sweden vs. Russia (LIVE) CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. Japan USA 3-6 a.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Britain (LIVE) 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Canada vs. Norway (LIVE)

Friday, Feb. 14

NBC 2-4 p.m. — Women’s Biathlon - 15km Individual Gold Medal Final; Men’s Skeleton - Competition 7-10:30 p.m. — Men’s Figure Skating Gold Medal Final; Men’s Alpine Skiing - Super Combined Gold Medal Final; Women’s Freestyle Skiing - Aerials Gold Medal Final; Women’s Skeleton - Gold Medal Final Runs 11:05 p.m.-12:05 a.m. — Men’s Ski Jumping - Individual K-125 Large Hill Competition 12:05-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore

(970) 476-1225 | HOWARDHEAD.COM | 9 EAGLE & SUMMIT COUNTY LOCATIONS

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on air NBCSN 1-3 a.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Germany 3-5:30 a.m. — Men’s Cross-Country 15km Classical Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Men’s Curling - Canada vs. Norway 5:30-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Sweden vs. Switzerland (LIVE) 8 a.m.-10 a.m. — Men’s Figure Skating Gold Medal Final Part 1 (LIVE) 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — Men’s Figure Skating - Gold Medal Final Part 2 (LIVE) 12:15-1 p.m. — Men’s Ski Jumping Individual K-125 Large Hill Competition 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 1-3:30 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Czech Republic vs. Latvia (LIVE) 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Norway vs. Finland (LIVE) CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Russia USA 3-6 a.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. Denmark (LIVE) 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Canada vs. Austria (LIVE)

Saturday, Feb. 15

NBC 2-5 p.m. — Women’s Short Track - 1500 Gold Medal Final; Women’s CrossCountry - 4x5km Relay Gold Medal Final; Men’s Skeleton - Gold Medal Final Runs 7-10:30 p.m. — Women’s Alpine Skiing - Super-G Gold Medal Final; Men’s Short Track - 1000 Gold Medal Final; Men’s Speedskating - 1500 Gold Medal Final; Men’s Ski Jumping - Individual K-125 Large Hill Gold Medal Final 11 p.m.-midnight — Women’s Curling United States vs. Sweden Midnight-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3:30 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Slovakia vs. Slovenia (LIVE) 3:30-5 a.m. — Women’s Cross-Country - 4x5km Relay Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Women’s Curling - China vs. Sweden 5-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - United

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States vs. Russia (LIVE) 8 a.m.-10 a.m. — Men’s Skeleton - Gold Medal Final Runs (LIVE) 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Switzerland vs. Czech Republic (LIVE) 3-4 p.m. — Hockey Encore 4-6 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 1-3:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey Quarterfinal (LIVE) 3:30-5:30 a.m. — Women’s Curling Canada vs. Japan 5:30-8 a.m. — Women’s Hockey Quarterfinal (LIVE) CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. Sweden USA 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Sweden vs. Latvia (LIVE)

SUNDAY, Feb. 16

NBC 12-5 p.m. — Women’s Speedskating 1500 Gold Medal Final; Men’s Biathlon - 15km Mass Start Gold Medal Final; Two-Man Bobsled - Competition 6-10 p.m. — Figure Skating - Ice Dancing Short Dance; Men’s Alpine Skiing - Super-G Gold Medal Final; Women’s Snowboarding - Snowboard Cross Gold Medal Final; Men’s CrossCountry - 4x10km Relay Gold Medal Final 10:35 p.m.-11:35 p.m. — Figure Skating - Ice Dancing Short Dance Postgame 11:35 p.m.-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3 a.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Canada 3-5:15 a.m. — Men’s Cross-Country 4x10km Relay Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 5:15-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Slovenia vs. United States (LIVE) 8 a.m.-12 p.m. — Figure Skating - Ice Dancing Short Dance (LIVE) 12-1 p.m. — Men’s Biathlon - 15km Mass Start Gold Medal Final 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 3-6 a.m. — Women’s Curling - United States vs. Canada (LIVE) CNBC 2-5 p.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Sweden USA 1-3:30 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Austria vs. Norway (LIVE) 5:30-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Russia vs. Slovakia (LIVE) 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Finland vs. Canada (LIVE)

Monday, Feb. 17

NBC 2-4 p.m. — Women’s Biathlon - 12.5km Mass Start Gold Medal Final; Two-Man Bobsled - Gold Medal Final Runs 7-10:30 p.m. — Figure Skating - Ice Dancing Gold Medal Final; Men’s

Snowboarding - Snowboard Cross Gold Medal Final; Men’s Freestyle Skiing - Aerials Gold Medal Final; Men’s Ski Jumping - Team K-125 Large Hill Gold Medal Final 12-1 a.m. — Figure Skating - Ice Dancing Gold Medal Final Postgame 1-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-5 a.m. — Women’s Curling United States vs. South Korea and Russia vs. Britain 5-8 a.m. — Women’s Hockey Semifinal (LIVE) 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m. — Figure Skating - Ice Dancing Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Ski Jumping Team K-125 Large Hill Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Women’s Biathlon - 12.5km Mass Start Gold Medal Final 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Women’s Hockey - Semifinal (LIVE) CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Women’s Curling - Denmark vs. Britain USA 3-6 a.m. — Men’s Curling - United States vs. Switzerland (LIVE)

Tuesday, Feb. 18

NBC 2-4 p.m. — Men’s Speedskating 10,000 Gold Medal Final; Men’s Nordic Combined - Individual K-125 Large Hill Gold Medal Final 7-10:30 p.m. — Women’s Alpine Skiing - Giant Slalom Gold Medal Final; Men’s Freestyle Skiing - Halfpipe Gold Medal Final; Women’s Bobsled - Competition; Women’s Short Track - 3000 Relay Gold Medal Final 12-1 a.m. — Women’s Short Track 1000 Competition 1-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3:30 a.m. — Men’s Hockey Elimination Round (LIVE) 3:30-5 a.m. — Men’s Nordic Combined - Individual K-125 Large Hill, Ski Jumping 5-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Elimination Round (LIVE) 8 a.m.-10 a.m. — Men’s Speedskating - 10,000 Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Men’s Nordic Combined - Individual K-125 Large Hill, Cross-Country 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Elimination Round (LIVE) 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Elimination Round (LIVE) CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Men’s and Women’s Curling - Tie Breaker

Wednesday, Feb. 19

NBC 2-4 p.m. — Women’s Speedskating

- 5000 Gold Medal Final; Men’s and Women’s Cross-Country - Team Sprint Gold Medal Finals 7-10:30 p.m. — Ladies’ Figure Skating - Short Program; Men’s Alpine Skiing - Giant Slalom Gold Medal Final; Women’s Bobsled - Gold Medal Final Runs; Men’s Snowboarding - Parallel Giant Slalom Gold Medal Final 12-1 a.m. — Biathlon - Mixed Relay Gold Medal Final 1-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-3:30 a.m. — Men’s Hockey Quarterfinal (LIVE) 3:30-5:30 a.m. — Men’s and Women’s Snowboarding - Parallel Giant Slalom Gold Medal Finals; Women’s CrossCountry - Team Sprint Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 5:30-8 a.m. — Men’s Hockey Quarterfinal (LIVE) 8-9:45 a.m. — Ladies’ Figure Skating Short Program Part 1 (LIVE) 9:45 a.m.-1 p.m. — Ladies’ Figure Skating - Short Program Part 2 (LIVE) 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey MSNBC 7 a.m.-10 a.m. — Women’s Curling Semifinal 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Quarterfinal (LIVE) 12:30-3 p.m. — Men’s Curling Semifinal CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Men’s Curling - Semifinal USA 3-6 a.m. — Women’s Curling - Semifinal (LIVE) 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Hockey Quarterfinal (LIVE)

Thursday, Feb. 20

NBC 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Women’s Hockey Gold Medal Final (LIVE IN ALL TIME ZONES) 7-10:30 p.m. — Ladies’ Figure Skating - Gold Medal Final; Women’s Freestyle Skiing - Halfpipe Gold Medal Final; Men’s Freestyle Skiing - Ski Cross Gold Medal Final 12-1 a.m. — Men’s Nordic Combined Team K-125 Large Hill Gold Medal Final 1-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore

photos: top: Tripp Fay/Copper Mountain; left: Associated Press

Let Ski & Snowboard Club Vail help fulfill your child’s dreams too!

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Current and Alumni 2014 Sochi Olympians: Aaron Blunck-Freeski Athlete Adam Crook-Freeski Alumnus Chris Del Bosco-Ski Cross Alumnus Annalisa Drew-Freeski Athlete

Kaitlyn Farrington-Snowboard Athlete Faye Gulini-Snowboard Alumna Ayumu Hirano-Snowboard Athlete Noah Hoffman-Nordic Athlete

Heidi Kloser-Freestyle Alumna Stephanie Magiros-Snowboard Athlete Mikaela Shiffrin-Alpine Alumna

At Ski & Snowboard Club Vail it’s more than just a winter sport...

IT’S A WAY OF LIFE

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NBCSN 1-5 a.m. — Men’s Nordic Combined - Team K-125 Large Hill Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Women’s Curling - Bronze Medal Game (LIVE) 5-7:30 a.m. — Women’s Hockey - Bronze Medal Game (LIVE) 7:30-8 a.m. — Ladies’ Figure Skating - Gold Medal Final Preview 8 a.m.-12 p.m. — Ladies’ Figure Skating - Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 12-1 p.m. — Ladies’ Figure Skating - Gold Medal Final Postgame 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Women’s Curling - Gold Medal Final

Friday, Feb. 21

NBC 2-4 p.m. — Women’s Freestyle Skiing - Ski Cross Gold Medal Final; Women’s Biathlon - 4x6km Relay Gold Medal Final 7-9:30 p.m. — Women’s Alpine Skiing - Slalom Gold Medal Final; Men’s Short Track - 500 Gold Medal Final; 5000 Relay Gold Medal Final; Women’s Short Track - 1000 Gold Medal Final 12-1 a.m. — Men’s and Women’s Speedskating - Team Pursuit Competition 1-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-4:30 a.m. — Men’s Curling - Bronze Medal Game (LIVE) 4:30-7:30 a.m. — Men’s Hockey - Semifinal (LIVE) 7:30-9:30 a.m. — Women’s Biathlon - 4x6km Relay Gold Medal Final (LIVE) 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. — Men’s Hockey - Semifinal (LIVE) 1-3 p.m. — Hockey Encore 3-5 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey CNBC 3-6 p.m. — Men’s Curling - Gold Medal Final

Saturday, Feb. 22

NBC 1:30-5 p.m. — Women’s Snowboarding - Parallel Slalom Gold Medal Final; Women’s Cross-Country - 30km Freestyle Gold Medal Final; Men’s Biathlon - 4x7.5km Relay Gold Medal Final 7-10:30 p.m. — Men’s Alpine Skiing - Slalom Gold Medal Final; FourMan Bobsled - Competition; Figure Skating - Gala Exhibition; Men’s Snowboarding - Parallel Slalom Gold Medal Final; Men’s and Women’s Speedskating - Team Pursuit Gold Medal Finals 11 p.m.-12 a.m. — Figure Skating - Gala Exhibition 12-3:30 a.m. — Primetime Encore NBCSN 1-2:30 a.m. — Men’s and Women’s Snowboarding - Parallel Slalom Competitions 2:30-5:30 a.m. — Women’s Cross-Country - 30km Freestyle Gold Medal Final (LIVE); Men’s and Women’s Snowboarding - Parallel Slalom Gold Medal Finals 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Men’s Hockey - Bronze Medal Game (LIVE) 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Figure Skating - Gala (LIVE) 4-6 p.m. — Game of the Day: Hockey

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ou can go from a palm-tree-lined beach to a snow-covered alpine ski resort in less than an hour — that’s the unique geography of Sochi, Russia, the seaside resort that is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sochi is located on the Black Sea, about 850 miles south of Moscow, 600 miles east of Istanbul and just a few miles from the Georgia border. The city, home to 430,000, sits at the foot of the Western Caucasus Mountains. The Olympics were awarded to Sochi in 2007 after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an impassioned speech — a rare presentation in English — in Guatemala to sway the International Olympic Committee. Sochi got the nod over Pyeongchang, South Korea — which will host the Winter Olympics in 2018 — and Salzburg, Austria. Putin pledged to spend $12 billion to upgrade the resort into an Olympic host. As of 2014, that number has ballooned to $51 billion, including $8.7 billion for the road and railway between the two venue clusters. The price tag makes these Games the most expensive in history. Over 17 days, 6,000 athletes and team members will be hosted in Sochi for the Games. In all, 98 sets of medals across 15 disciplines will be handed out. Recent bombings around Russia have put security in the spotlight. A force of tens of thousands police and soldiers are being deployed to Sochi, the largest security operation for any Olympics. The Olympic venues are separated into two areas that are 30 miles apart — the coastal cluster and the mountain cluster. The coastal cluster centers around the Olympic Park, a ring of new stadiums alongside the Black Sea south of the city of Sochi. This is where figure skating, curling, ice hockey and speed skating — along with the opening and closing ceremonies — will be held. The mountain cluster is in Krasnaya Polyana, in the Western Caucasus Mountains, which rise up to around 10,000 feet. The village sits in the Mzymta River Valley, which is home to several newly built ski resorts.

— Ed Stoner

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Bolshoy Ice Dome will host ice hockey. The stadium, which is supposed to resemble a drop of water, will hold 12,000 people.

Rosa Khutor will host all alpine skiing competitions. The courses were designed by the legendary Bernhard Russi, an Olympic champion in downhill skiing.

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Travis Ganong speeds down the downhill course at the Beaver Creek Birds of Prey in December. Ganong will be among the Americans’ top hopes for contention in the men’s alpine speed events at Rosa Khutor. vail daily file photo

T

alpine skiing

he downhill is pretty simple. Go nearly straight down the mountain, and the fastest time wins. Racers routinely reach speeds in excess of 80 mph in the speediest discipline in alpine skiing. The men’s Olympic course drops nearly 3,200 vertical feet over more than two miles. It will take racers about 2 minutes, 15 seconds to reach the bottom. “It’s one of those unique, cool downhills,” said U.S. Ski Team member Travis Ganong, who competed at Sochi for the test event in 2012. “There are some chutes and steep gullies and rolls and the biggest jumps I’ve ever hit on the World Cup. It’s a really fun, challenging hill — the perfect venue for an Olympic event. It’s not an easy hill by any means. It’s going to be one of the classic downhills after the Games.” The events take place at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, which is in the mountain cluster of the Sochi venues. The mountain cluster is about 30 miles northeast of the coastal cluster, nestled in the Caucasus Mountains. The slopes at Rosa Khutor were developed by famed ski architect and World Cup and 1972 Olympic downhill champion

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Men’s speed disciplines

Bernard Russi, who also designed the Birds of Prey course at Beaver Creek. The Rosa Khutor venue will become part of a major ski resort after the Games.

surgery on both shoulders since winning bronze in super-G in Vancouver four years ago. He’s healthy again and will try to return to medal contention in Sochi.

The Americans

Top international contenders

Bode Miller, 36, of Franconia, N.H., is on the comeback trail after sitting out last year due to a knee injury. He will try to repeat his Vancouver performance, where he took home medals in downhill, super-G and super combined, although he says he’s not motivated by medals. “I would never devalue the importance of an Olympic medal because I know that it’s important in the biggest scheme of things, but it’s not what motivates me and I think it’s not what you judge yourself by at the end of the day,” Miller said. Mr. GS, Ted Ligety, 29, won’t surprise anyone if he rockets toward the top in super-G. He won the World Championship in that discipline last season in Schladming, Austria. Steven Nyman, 31, of Park City, Utah; Ganong, 25; and Marco Sullivan, 33, of Squaw Valley, are threats to break into the top 10. Andrew Weibrecht, 27, of Lake Placid, N.Y., has blown out both ankles and undergone

Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, 31, will be considered the favorite going into the Sochi Games. He won last year’s downhill and super-G globes and is off to a strong start this year. “For sure, the Olympics are bigger than the World Championships or a single World Cup race. But that’s also why it’s so great — the whole world is watching,” Svindal said while training in Vail in November. “Even though our sport is lucky like that — we have big crowds and a lot of television spectators — the Olympics are a different level.”

Last time: Downhill: Didier Defago (SUI), Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), Bode Miller (USA) Super-G: Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), Bode Miller (USA), Andrew Weibrecht (USA) Super combined: Bode Miller (USA), Ivica Kostelic (CRO), Silvan Zurbriggen (SUI)

— Ed Stoner

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travis ganong Travis Ganong is a skier. All of the other stuff — the racing, the travel, the press conferences, the Olympics — just springs from that one simple fact. Whether it’s slaying pow on KT-22, hucking cliffs, or bashing gates, the Squaw Valley skiers — including Ganong, Julia Mancuso, Marco Sullivan, and Ganong’s sister, Megan, whom he followed into the sport — are all about the passion for skiing. “When you’re a kid now, all these other clubs are really serious and their kids are only training gates, and you’re missing out on a whole other part,” Ganong said. “We fell in love with the sport. We love to ski. We’re skiers first, and the racing side of it just kind of evolved.” Every year that Ganong has been on the World Cup circuit, his results have gotten better. Last season, he finished outside the top 30 in only two downhills. A top training run at Beaver Creek’s Birds of Prey set the stage for a great season. He registered a 10th place in Bormio and seventh in Val Gardena. He also had two top 10s this year in Kitzbuehel, Austria, and another in Bormio. The 25-year-old will appear in his first Olympics. “It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” he said. — Ed Stoner

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Stacey Cook had a breakthrough season in 2012-13, landing on the first two podiums of her career and finishing fourth in the downhill standings. With Lindsey Vonn and Alice McKennis both injured, Cook will aim to step up for women’s speed team. vail daily file photo

L

alpine skiing

indsey Vonn’s triumphant return from major knee surgery was supposed to reach its apex at the Sochi Games, where she was to defend her gold medal and most likely win a few others, too. So much for that script. Vonn, 29, reinjured her surgically repaired right knee in November yet still tried to come back and compete in World Cup. She threw in the towel on her Olympic comeback in January. A cast of fast American women will try to fill Lindsey’s big shoes. They hadn’t yet touched the podium this season as of late January but were showing signs of momentum heading into Sochi. They’ll need to step up their game on a challenging course at Rosa Khutor. The Sochi test downhill course had 41 gates, dropped 2,600 feet — starting at an elevation of 5,758 feet — and took racers about 1 minute, 50 seconds to finish during the test event in 2012. “It’s awesome,” Vonn said of the course. “It’s a really great downhill. It’s got everything. A lot of really cool pieces

woMen’s speed disciplines

of terrain in it, some cool jumps.” In the downhill and super-G, it’s the fastest time for one run. The super-combined event is the combined time of one run of a shortened downhill course and one run of slalom.

The Americans The American women bring one of their deepest speed teams in years to Sochi, coming off a strong 2012-13 season. Julia Mancuso, 29, seems to deliver a big run when it counts the most. The Squaw Valley, Calif., racer will try to add to her record haul of championship-level medals. Teammates Stacey Cook, 29, of Mammoth Mountain, Calif., Leanne Smith, 26, of North Conway, N.H., Laurenne Ross, 25, of Bend, Ore., all reached the podium in downhill events in 2012-13, and will be legitimate threats at the Olympics.

International contenders Veteran Maria Hoefl-Riesch, 30, of Germany, won two Olympic golds in 2010 and is skiing well this season. She has the experience

to lay down a great run at Rosa Khutor. Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, 24, is healthy after years of ACL problems, and has consistently landed on the podium in downhill and super-G. She comes from a lineage of skiers — her mother won two golds at Lake Placid in 1980, her father placed ninth there, and her uncle won six medals over three Olympics. Austrian racer Anna Fenninger, also 24, has been a consistent force on the World Cup, notching six podiums in 2013-14 so far. Lara Gut, 22, of Switzerland, has overcome a history of injuries, and won four of the first six races on the World Cup calendar this year. She could steal the show in Sochi.

Last time: Downhill: Lindsey Vonn (USA), Julia Mancuso (USA), Elisabeth Goergl (AUT) Super-G: Andrea Fischbacher (AUT), Tina Maze (SLO), Lindsey Vonn (USA) Super Combined: Maria Riesch (GER), Julia Mancuso (USA), Anja Paerson (SWE)

— Ed Stoner

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stacey cook Veteran racer has emerged as one of

the American women’s top medal threats

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Last year, everything seemed to come together for Stacey Cook. After 10 years on the World Cup circuit, something clicked. The 29-year-old Truckee, Calif., native ended up fourth in the World Cup downhill standings and made the first two podiums of her career. “I don’t think there was really one specific difference,” Cook said of her breakthrough year. “It was a culmination of experience coming together, believing and having confidence that I’ve been able to gain through all the previous years. It just started coming together bit by bit. Last year was just the first year everyone kind of really noticed it, I guess.” With Lindsey Vonn out of the Olympics, Cook is one of the Americans’ best hopes in speed events in Sochi. This will be her third Olympics. In the Vancouver Games, she crashed badly in a training run at Whistler, landing on the back on her skis and rocketing into the safety netting. She came back less than a week later to finish 11th in the downhill, which was still a disappointment to her. Cook, who now lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is part of a women’s speed team that has an unprecedented amount of depth, even without Vonn and fellow injured speedster Alice McKennis. “There’s always been the stars, but there’s never been the depth,” she said. “And now we have the depth. It’s a cool time in American skiing to be a part of. It makes us all better to have so many other people around to inspire you and to push you.” — Ed Stoner

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Tim Jitloff, of Reno, Nev., races down the Gran Risa course while competing in the World Cup giant slalom race in 2012 in Alta Badia, Italy. In 2013, Jitloff finished fifth in the Alta Badia GS, tying his best-ever World Cup finish. mitchell gunn | espa

I

alpine sking

f you can link 50 or 60 great turns down the mountain, then you have a winning slalom run on your hands. And what is the feeling of a perfect turn? Reigning World Cup slalom champ Mikaela Shiffrin described it like this: “It feels like a really good tennis serve, where you build into it kind of slow and then you come up and at the apex of your turn, the apex of your serve, you snap it off, and the result is you hit the ball perfectly into the other court and it’s just an ace.” Tim Jitloff says the perfect GS run feels effortless; everything slows down as you enter the zone. “Your reactions become lightning fast,” he said. “Your heart beats somewhere between joy, fear and grace. It feels like art.” The tech events require quick, agile turns, balance, the ability to move from edge to edge and an aggressive line. The fastest combined time of two runs wins the race. The events will be held at Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort along with the other alpine skiing events.

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tech disciplines

The Americans

International contenders

In giant slalom, it’s all about Ted Ligety. The Park City, Utah, native has been dominant, winning more than half of the World Cup or World Championship giant slalom races since the Vancouver Olympics. Bode Miller has been resurgent this season following a year-long hiatus due to a knee injury. He finished second to Ligety at the Birds of Prey giant slalom in December, his first podium in 21 months. American Tim Jitloff, 29, of Reno, Nev., tied a career best with fifth place at the Alta Badia giant slalom in December. Jit barely missed out on the top-25 World Cup Finals last year, but he is hoping this year’s results will be a breakthrough for him. On the women’s side, Shiffrin, 18, of Vail, is one of the top American medal hopes in Sochi. She won the slalom title last season, and vaulted onto the GS podium for the first time this year at Beaver Creek, just a few miles from her home. Resi Stiegler, 28, now in her 10th season on the World Cup circuit, will appear in her second Olympics. The daughter of Austrian legend Pepi Stiegler has battled a host of injuries through the years but is now healthy.

Austrian Marcel Hirscher, 24, is one of Ligety’s main competitors in giant slalom. Hirscher won the overall title last year as well as the slalom title. He’ll be a top contender in both tech events. Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, 22, is another skier who could give Ligety a run for his money in the giant slalom. Reigning overall champ Tina Maze will be a threat to take home Slovenia’s first Winter Olympics gold. Marlies Schild, the all-time winningest slalom competitor, will also be a favorite. And don’t count out defending slalom gold medalist Maria Hoefl-Riesch.

Last time: Slalom: Giuliano Razzoli (ITA), Ivica Kostelic (CRO), Andre Myhrer (SWE) Giant slalom: Carlo Janka (SUI), Kjetil Jansrud (NOR), Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) Slalom: Maria Riesch (GER), Marlies Schild (AUT), Sarka Zahrobska (CZE) Giant slalom: Viktoria Rebensburg (GER), Tina Maze (SLO), Elisabeth Goergl (AUT)

— Ed Stoner

EVERY 4 YEARS, THERE IS AN

tim jitloff Tim Jitloff is stepping up at just the right time. His fifth-place finish in the giant slalom at Alta Badia in December matched his career-best World Cup finish. The win gives him a huge amount of confidence as the season progresses. For him, it’s just a matter of time before he stands on the podium. “If and when the time is right that I make that step onto the podium I think it will feel natural and easy, not because it is easy, but because I have suffered and worked hard enough for it,” Jitloff said. Jitloff considers Reno, Nev., his hometown, and he graduated from Truckee High School near Lake Tahoe in California. He now spends much of his time in Germany, his home base for the winter. Last season, Jitloff finished ranked in the top 30 of GS skiers, and he won at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Squaw Valley. He is hoping to carry the momentum into Sochi, which will be his second Olympics. Jitloff made the Olympic team in 2010 but didn’t race. He says the Sochi Olympics are all about the long journey he took to get there. “Sochi is a showcase to those that have stood by me and still stand by me through every bad day it took to get there,” he said. “My friends, my family, those I love all have stake in it.” — Ed Stoner

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MASTER

DISAPPOINTMENT AT THE 2010 Olympics fueled Ted Ligety’s rise from good to great.

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A full second. And an Olympic medal. That’s what Ted Ligety left on the slopes of Whistler Mountain at the 2010 giant slalom. Ligety knew he could have performed better. Well enough to make up the fourtenths of a second that stood between him and the medal stand. Well enough to win his second Olympic gold medal. But Ligety walked away with a disappointing ninth place. No medal, and lots to think about. The experience made Ligety vow to never underachieve in that way again. “Since then I’ve definitely flipped the switch in the sense that when I get in the start gate I want to get to the finish line and be happy with my approach and be happy with my level of intensity and not feel like I regretted that I didn’t go hard enough,” Ligety said. Indeed, Ligety has been transformed. The new Ted Ligety has simply dominated, winning 16 of 31 World Cup and World Championship giant slaloms. That includes wins at Beaver Creek in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The dominance reached its zenith last February, at the Worlds in Schladming, Austria. Ligety won the super-G, the super combined, and the GS, becoming the first man to win three gold medals in the Worlds since the legendary Jean-Claude Killy in 1968. “To watch Ted do that is inspirational,” said teammate Bode Miller. “In that moment, the second run of the GS, he probably had a mix of emotions. I’m sure there’s a lot of places he’d rather be. At the same time, you dig in and say, ‘This is what I’m here for. This is what I’m prepared for and I’m built to do this.’” Ligety, along with Miller, can now be regarded as one of the greatest American alpine skiers ever. Ligety sits in third place on the all-time giant slalom win list with 19 victories. And, as his success at Schladming showed, Ligety, 29, of Park City, Utah, is becoming an overall threat in a day and age when many top skiers specialize in two events. He finished third in the overall standings in 2012-13. He will go to Sochi trying to repeat his gold medal success of 2006 in Torino, where he won the super combined as an upstart 21-year-old. — ED STONER

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FREE SPIRIT

Julia Mancuso is really good at winning. but it’s not about winning.

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When Julia Mancuso reaches the biggest stage, she tends to deliver. She has more major championship medals — three Olympic and five World Championship — than any other female American skier. For someone with such a track record of success, you might think she would be focused purely on winning. Not exactly. She takes a point of view that originates from her laid-back, mountaintown upbringing in Squaw Valley, Calif. “It’s not even about winning every race,” said Mancuso, 29. “It’s about winning your race, which is doing the best you can. For me, I take one turn at a time. It’s between me and the mountain, and I want to make my peace on that run.” Mancuso is feeling more and more at peace with her results. She finished second in the super-G standings last year, and fourth in the overall. Following years of back problems, she is injury free. And after 13 years on the World Cup circuit, she’s becoming more at ease with the demands of months-long travel. (You don’t need 10 pairs of shoes, she realized.) This summer in Hawaii, where she spends much of her off-season, she picked up free-diving, which she says has helped her focus and lung capacity. “Training is about having fun,” she said. When Julia was a pre-teen, her mom, Andrea Webber, would bring the kids to Vail to train early season. Around that time, Andrea realized that Julia was a special athlete. “Really at about 11 and 12 years old, in ski racing, she would beat all the boys,” said Webber, who, with her husband Scott, owns Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty, which has offices in Beaver Creek. Sochi will be Mancuso’s fourth Olympic Games. She’ll be aiming to add to her career medal haul — a gold in Torino and two silvers in Vancouver. “I’m prepared and ready to kick ass when the Olympics come around,” Mancuso said. — ED STONER

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Mikaela Shiffrin’s breakout 2012-13 season included four World Cup wins, a World Championship, and the World Cup slalom title. She has won three World Cup slaloms so far this season.

PHENOM THE

MIKAELA SHIFFRIN HAS TAKEN THE SKI WORLD BY STORM.

ARE YOU READY FOR WHAT’S NEXT?

BY GEOFF MINTZ J portrait by brent bingham

he winter of 2013 will forever be remembered by ski racing fans as the season in which a 17-year-old girl from Vail, Colo., redefined the modern assumption of what is possible. “I’m finally here and I’m finally doing what I’ve always set out to do,” Mikaela Shiffrin said during a post-race press conference shortly after winning the slalom gold medal at the Alpine World Ski Championships last February. “But the hardest thing is when people ask me … how do I do this? I just don’t have an answer. I’m just doing what I do, and I don’t want to wait.”

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Shiffrin sealed her World Cup slalom title with a win at Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in March 2013.

INSIDE STORY

Now set to compete in her first Olympics, Shiffrin, 18, is quickly becoming a household name. The youngster, however, has been on the radar of ski racing observers for some time, certainly at least since 2010 when she cleaned up at Trofeo Topolino (essentially the world championship for 15-year-olds), winning both the slalom and giant slalom titles there. While there has been a broad, long-held suspicion that Shiffrin would one day grow to dominate on the world stage, few could have expected it would happen quite so soon. The gold medal at the World Championships —  a one-off event, like the Olympics — was just one of the highlights for Shiffrin in 2013. The young phenom, who the previous year barely cracked the World Cup podium, entered the season as something short of a favorite in slalom, her best discipline. Conventional wisdom pointed to a breakout year for Shiffrin, but a World Championship gold medal and an overall slalom title? There is at least a handful other more seasoned competitors who might have something to say about that. “Somehow, she has the ability to arc the skis like nobody else,” said U.S. Women’s Head Technical Coach Roland Pfeifer, who works most closely with Shiffrin. “Then, when it comes to racing, she is so well prepared and focused on her goals — and her goals are big. Last year, she was telling me in September, ‘I want to win the overall slalom title.’” Shiffrin certainly didn’t reveal that goal to the public. At the time, it likely would have been received by many as unrealistic and cocky. In fact, at every step along the way, even when it did appear she might actually make a run at the title, Shiffrin epitomized genuine humility and gracious appreciation to the senior members of the tour. She was on a roll and impossible to dislike. By March, just 20 World Cup slalom starts into her young career, Shiffrin had established herself as much more than a hot, young, emerging talent. Achieving her season-long goal in the final race by taking down world No. 1 Tina Maze, she

became the best slalom skier in the world. The impressive statistics were aplenty. Shiffrin became the third-youngest ladies slalom World Championship gold medalist in history. She became the first American woman, of any age, to win slalom gold in either a World Championships or an Olympics since Barbara Cochran in 1972. She became the fourth-youngest woman to win a globe and the first American, of any age, to win a season-long slalom title since Tamara McKinney in 1984. Furthermore, Shiffrin became the first-ever non-European to win four World Cup slalom races in a single season. These stats, however impressive, are made all the more extraordinary with an understanding of how dramatically sophisticated, specialized and competitive the sport of ski racing — women’s especially — has become in recent decades. Shiffrin’s accomplishments relative to her age are historic on paper, but we probably shouldn’t even measure them that way.

How does she do it? With success at such a young age comes attention from fans, sponsors and the media, which since her emergence has been on a quest to identify what makes her tick. What’s her secret? The answer is quite a bit simpler than the inquisitors expect: She just loves to go fast. In Shiffrin’s mind, it’s just that simple. Her coach, a former Austrian World Cup ski racer and program director for Vorarlberg Ski Team (a prominent feeder program into the Austrian Ski Team), believes Shiffrin is gifted with something special, something difficult to put into words. “When she’s lying in bed, she thinks about skiing. She’s skiing all the time,” said Pfeifer. “When I talk to her about skiing, it feels like I’m talking to another Austrian coach, a guy who has been around 20 years of coaching. … She uses the same technique as the other girls, but the feeling is different. And when she gets to the start and she needs to put on a performance, she just

After last season, with the globe and the world championship win, is it fair to say that anything short of a gold medal in

Sochi would be

a disappointment for you?

I think that just getting a medal either way — gold, silver or bronze — an Olympic medal would be something that I would always look back on and be proud of. Obviously, I’m kind of shooting for the gold. If I’m at my best, if I’m skiing my best, I have the capability of winning the gold, but there are a lot of other girls who have that capability. So it all just boils down to who skis their best on race day. So it would be a disappointment under certain circumstances if I felt like I didn’t give it my all, that’s what would be disappointing. If I give it my very best and somebody else just absolutely crushes it, then I’ll look forward to working on something for the future.

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does it. With 20 years in this business, coaching people 16-20, I have never seen this before.” One particular characteristic of Shiffrin’s performances on race day is either thrilling or gut-wrenching depending on how you look at it. Somehow, in the second run, she always manages to put the hammer down exponentially on the homestretch, to come from behind in dramatic fashion for the win. She did this at World Championships, and she did this at World Cup Finals. We, the viewer, are able to watch the drama unfold, as split times are posted periodically throughout the run. Shiffrin, in fact, is the only person who doesn’t know exactly where she stands or how much time needs to be made up. “It is partly right that she is starting off a little slow and then accelerating,” said Pfeifer. “It’s not only that she is accelerating; it’s that her opponents are slowing down. … We want her to find her rhythm the first couple gates, and then slowly step on it.” Shiffrin, often one to think of others first, halfjokingly apologizes for any unnecessary stress and anxiety she may have caused during the last season. “It’s not the plan to get it done in the last 10 gates. It’s such an awful experience for everyone watching. I know it’s going to work but it’s such a stupid thing to have to rely on,” Shiffrin said with a laugh. “I would much rather be able to hammer the entire course. The last 10 gates always feel so great.” Last season, Shiffrin made a name for herself in slalom; this season, she’s looking to do the same in GS. She reached her first GS podium in December at Beaver Creek, just a few miles from her home, with a second-place finish.

The All-American Girl Shiffrin has lived in the Vail Valley on and off most of her life. For a time, her family lived outside Hanover, N.H., while her father, an anesthesiologist, was working at the DartmouthHitchcock Medical Center there. That’s how the family developed a connection to the Eastern race scene and to Burke Mountain Academy, one of the top ski academies in the country from which Shiffrin graduated last spring. Not long after, the Shiffrins missed the Rocky Mountain lifestyle and decided to move back. Her father, Jeff, got a job back in Colorado; her older brother, Taylor, attends school and races for the University of Denver; and her mother, Eileen, when not on the road with Mikaela, resides in the Vail Valley. Her daughter’s early development and stardom as an international ski racer presented an unusual challenge for the family. How do you send a 16-yearold girl off to Europe, traveling to different foreign locations every weekend while managing aggressive media demands and, of course, schoolwork? Eileen Shiffrin took on the assignment of manager, travel partner and best friend. It’s a job

The Shiffrin family in Vail: Mikaela with father Jeff, mom Eileen and older brother Taylor. “Family is really important to me,” Mikaela Shiffrin said.

INSIDE STORY Which was a bigger thrill, winning the gold medal at the world championships or winning the slalom globe (season title)?

that has become all the more demanding as a result of the season Mikaela had last year — more media, more sponsor obligations, more travel time. Part of those schedule demands have included learning a new language, the language of ski racing, German, which is a gesture Lindsey Vonn, for one, has used to win over the European fans and media. “There’s definitely been a lot of attention lately,” said Eileen Shiffrin. “It’s so awesome and exciting, but for somebody Mikeala’s age and also even for our own family, we’re still reeling from it because it all happened so quickly.” “Family is really important to me,” said the young racer. “When I started on this World Cup journey, I knew I wanted my mom to come with me because we’re really close. She gets me. She knows how I work. She knows when I’m tired, when I can’t do any more and when I can push it a little harder. … It’s a long winter and having her around is a piece of home.” Asked how she feels about likely having a future Olympian in the family, Eileen Shiffrin said, “We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that she’s on the World Cup.” For the racer Shiffrin, it would be convenient if we could write the storyline that she grew up dreaming of one day winning the gold medal at the Olympics (see Lindsey Vonn), but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. As a little girl, Shiffrin dreamed of winning on the World Cup, where the sport has its roots, idolizing a bunch of European racers most Americans have never heard of — this would include many of the women she’s currently beating. If Shiffrin does come home from Sochi with a gold medal, it will be in part because of something innately authentic and timeless about her approach to ski racing, something her competitors will likely envy for years to come. J

my mom knows how I work. She knows when I’m tired, when I can’t do any more and when I can push it a little harder. It’s a long winter and having her around is a piece of home.

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Probably winning the globe because it was the whole season in the making, and it came down to that last run. I just didn’t think I had it in me to win it. Winning the globe was my goal, but it was kind of like, who knows if I’ll be able to? When I started on that path and got the red bib, and I was holding onto it, I started thinking, maybe I can do this. And then I did, and it was amazing.

you’ve been to

Sochi to

train, so what do you think of the hill?

Does it suit you?

The snow is kind of like spring snow. When we were there we actually had some pretty awesome conditions, but we used a lot of salt (to firm it up). It will be interesting to see how they can keep the conditions good for the entire two weeks of racing. I like the slalom hill a lot. It’s pretty steep at the top and then rolls into another little flat section then gets steep again into the finish. It’s pretty straightforward but kind of misleading because it has some challenge to it, as well. The GS hill is really fun. It’s pretty flat and then breaks over onto a really steep pitch and then flat again. It’s going to be a worker. You find the flow and hammer it.

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cross-country

O

ne of the oldest winter sports, cross-country skiing has been featured at every winter Olympics in history. It’s a team sport, but one that offers a lot of opportunity for individual glory. Disciplines include: Men’s 15-kilometer Classic; Men’s Skiathlon 15-kilometer Classic + 15-kilometer Free; Men’s Sprint Free; Men’s 50-kilometer Mass Start Free; Men’s Team Sprint Classic; Men’s Relay 4x10-kilometer; Ladies’ 10-kilometer Classic; Ladies’ Skiathlon 7.5-kilometer Classic + 7.5-kilometer Free Skiathlon; Ladies’ Sprint Free; Ladies’ 30-kilometer Mass Start Free; Ladies’ Team Sprint Classic, and the Ladies’ Relay 4 x 5-kilometer. While all are different events in their own right, they all involve one element (besides a free heel) that keeps some consistency across the board: Suffering. Between the long distances and the tough competition and conditions, cross-country skiing is a sport left to those who possess the strongest of wills. Cross-country events at the 2014 Olympics will take place at the Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center, located on the crest and slopes of the Psekhako Ridge.

The Americans In a sport often dominated by Europeans, Kikkan Randall, 31, has become an American sensation. In 2012, Randall won the Overall Sprint globe, becoming the first American

skiing

woman ever to win a World Cup discipline title. She defended her title last season, winning five World Cup events along the way. And she’s not slowing down heading into Sochi – recently, Randall won the freestyle sprint World Cup at Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, on Jan. 11. On the men’s side, the Europeans may be wondering what’s in the water in Pitkin County, as Aspen boys Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman are becoming a force to be reckoned with. Hamilton won a World Cup stage at the Tour de Ski this season, saying in his blog it was a shock ­— “You can’t prepare yourself for how it actually feels” ­— but also a precursor ­— “Winning something big and important is a crazy thing, and I’m pretty fired up for more of that same feeling.” And Hoffman recently became the highest finishing U.S. male ever in the Tour de Ski, and also notched a top-10 finish in the 15-kilometer pursuit at the opening weekend on the World Cup calendar.

International contenders They don’t call it “Nordic” skiing for nothing. Norway’s team has won the most crosscountry skiing medals in the history of the winter Olympics with 35 gold medals, and their total medal count is nearly 100. Norwegians Therese Johaug, 25, and Martin Johnsrud Sundby, 29, won the famed Tour de Ski stage race in January, and were also leading the overall World Cup standings

Simi Hamilton, of Aspen, competes in the men’s 15-kilometer cross-country race at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia. The Sochi Games will be Hamilton’s second Olympics. associated press

after that race. Chris Jespersen, 30, and Petter Northug, 28, also of Norway, were second and fourth behind Sundby in the men’s race, exemplifying their country’s dominance in the sport. Norway’s neighbor to the east, Sweden, is next on the Olympic cross-country skiing gold medal list with 27. The final piece of the Scandinavian puzzle, Finland, is the country to earn the secondmost amount of hardware behind Norway with 73 total medals in cross-country skiing. But don’t put anything past our hosts in Russia at this year’s Games – the Soviet Union has earned 68 total medals in cross-country skiing, with 25 golds, and Alexander Legkov, 30, of Russia is a regular atop the World Cup podium who won the Tour de Ski in 2013.

— John LaConte

noah hoffman For the last decade, Noah Hoffman says he has focused the entirety of his life on achieving excellence in cross country skiing. And by excellence, he means Olympic gold. But at just 19 years old, Hoffman is already a very practical man. “The way I have progressed towards achieving that goal is to focus on only the next step,” he said. “When I am successful in a competition, I only focus on executing my plan and controlling the things I can control.” And the Aspen resident has had a few successful competitions already this season. A top-10 finish in the 15-kilometer pursuit at the opening weekend on the World Cup calendar got Hoffman off to a

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good start, and he later went on to achieve the highest finish ever for a U.S. male in the Tour de Ski in January with 25th place. He says technique improvements have helped him greatly this season. “I’ve been able to ski more efficiently and use the full extent of my aerobic capacity,” he said. “These successes are due in large part to the incredible team of coaches I have at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, which I believe is the best elite club in the country.” Hoffman was an early qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Team this season, and has set a goal of a top-10 finish for Sochi. “I then want to come back to the next Olympics in four years as a gold medal contender,” he said. — John LaConte

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Shaun White spins to victory at the 2013 Burton U.S. Open in Vail. White is going to Sochi aiming for his third straight gold medal in men’s snowboard halfpipe. He would be the first American man to win gold three times in the same event. vail daily file photo

H

snowboard halfpipe

alfpipe snowboarders say they ride for the freedom, creativity and expression that the sport allows, but the biggest prize in snowboarding will require all of that and more. The winner of the gold in Sochi will need a clean run and a few great tricks. In Vancouver, Shaun White wowed the judges with his double McTwist 1260, which he nicknamed “the Tomahawk.” For Sochi, White has been working on the next evolution of that trick, the frontside doublecork 1440, which could be the ticket to a third Olympic gold for White. In halfpipe, athletes throw as many tricks as they can in the 450-foot halfpipe, usually six. Competitors are judged on difficulty, amplitude, style, cleanliness and precision. Halfpipe snowboarding burst onto the Olympic scene at the Nagano Games in 1998, and the sport has “progressed” — a word often thrown around within the sport — a great deal since then. In 2010, the “double” — a trick that includes a double flip — became nearly mandatory for riders who wanted to make the podium. Since 1998, the sport has been dominated by Americans, who have won five of eight gold medals. No star has shined more brightly

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than White, 27, of Carlsbad, Calif., who won gold in Torino and Vancouver. “I do have the experience at this point, being in my third Olympics,” White said in November. “I know somewhat of the drill of what goes on, the nerves and the excitement and all that.”

The Americans White is still the man to beat, but he has shown that he’s not invincible in recent events. Greg Bretz of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., beat White in the first Olympic qualifier, at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, starting off his run with back-to-back double cork 1080s. Steamboat Springs up-and-comer Taylor Gold, 20, whose sister, Arielle, is also a top snowboarder, has been impressive in the Olympic qualifiers. On the women’s side, 2002 gold medalist and 2010 bronze medalist Kelly Clark, 30, of Dover, Vt., is still at the top of her game. She is a trailblazer who has pushed the evolution of the sport since she was a teenager. She celebrated her 60th career win — more than any other snowboarder, male or female — in 2013. The competition for a spot on the women’s team will be fierce, and the team will certainly contain multiple top contenders for the gold.

“I think if you look at the top 10 competitors in the international competitions the bulk of those people are going to be from the U.S.,” Clark said. “It’s no secret that we have one of the strongest halfpipe teams out there. Often I find in my experience the qualifiers for us are perhaps more competitive than the Olympics themselves.”

International contenders White calls his biggest competitor Iouri Podladchikov, the Swiss snowboarder commonly known as iPod, who won gold at the 2013 Worlds. Young Ayumu Hirano, 15, of Japan, who trains with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, is another competitor who can threaten White for gold. For the women, Torah Bright of Australia will seek to defend her gold medal in halfpipe while also going for gold in slopestyle and snowboardcross.

Last time Halfpipe, men: Shaun White (USA), Peetu Piiroinen (FIN), Scott Lago (USA) Halfpipe, women: Torah Bright (AUS), Hannah Teter (USA), Kelly Clark (USA)

— Ed Stoner

Kaitlyn Farrington SKI AND SNOWBOARD Club Vail snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, 24, has been a regular on the podium at the X Games, the Dew Tour and the World Cup. Farrington, a halfpipe specialist from Sun Valley, Idaho, was the first women’s rider to pull off a backside 900. She spends early seasons training in Vail, is coached by Ski Club Vail staffers Ben Boyd and Elijah Teter, and returns to Vail as often as she can to work with coaches and trainers. “She’s probably the most technical women’s snowboarder in the world,” Boyd said. “She’s definitely come a long way.” Farrington has tricks and combinations that other girls are not able to land. Her options range from a back 9 to a switch back 7 to an alley-oop 5 to a back 10. “She has a lot of combinations that guys can’t do,” Boyd said. Farrington, who now resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, is headed to her first Olympics. “The Olympic dream is every kid’s dream when you’re growing up,” she said. — Ed Stoner

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David Wise, of Reno, Nev., will be a favorite for the gold medal when halfpipe skiing debuts in the Sochi Games. ap photo

halfpipe skiing F

or a sport that’s just now making it onto the Olympic stage, halfpipe skiing has seen quite a progression in its short history. Over the last few seasons, the hours elapsed from one major competition to the next has been enough time for a new trick or two to be introduced. Double corks (two off axis flips) are now the name of the game, being thrown in every direction. If you don’t have a couple of them in your run, don’t expect to be on the podium. Ski halfpipe at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held to the west of the Rosa Khutor plateau, at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

cite each other as examples of who could come out on top on that day. “It’s an event where any guy can win on any day,” said Wise, who won the first U.S. qualifier of the season at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge. “ ... The competition’s been really tight this season.” On the women’s side, Americans Maddie Bowman, 20, and Brita Sigourney, 23, have kept competition tight in the qualifiers this season, each winning one in December, and Angeli VanLaanen, 28, proved she may have what it takes with a runner-up finish at the Dew Tour’s iON Mountain Championships.

International contenders The Americans Both the men’s and women’s podium at the first-ever Olympic halfpipe skiing event very well could be dominated by Americans. On the men’s side, Americans David Wise, 23, Aaron Blunck, 17, and Torin Yater-Wallace, 18, have all been repeat podium finishers at events that will have similar fields, and all

40

Other countries to look out for when halfpipe skiing makes its Olympic debut in February are France, New Zealand, and our neighbors to the north. Canadians Mike Riddle, 27, and Justin Dorey, 25, have both competed in the Americans’ Olympic selection events this season, and both have just missed the podium with a pair of fourth-place finishes. The Wells

family out of New Zealand will always have an athlete or two to be wary of in any freeskiing competition, and this year it’s Beau-James Wells, 18, the younger brother to freeski legends Jossi and Byron, who’s been making a splash, finishing fifth at the Dew Tour’s iON Mountain Championships in December. But it’s Frenchman Kevin Rolland, 24, who probably has the best shot of the international field at attaining gold in Sochi. After winning the Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in December, Blunck said “Kevin Rolland threw the craziest run I’ve ever seen in my life.” Rolland failed to land his final trick, a double cork 1260 that begins “switch,” with the skier facing backwards, but if he had nailed it, Blunck likely would not have found himself on top that night. For the women’s international field, France’s Anais Caradeux, 23, and Marie Martinod, 29, will be contenders to keep an eye on, as well as Japan’s Ayana Onozuka, 25, who just missed the podium at the Dew Tour in December.

— John LaConte

Corona presents

david wise David Wise is unlike many of the other halfpipe skiers he competes against. Wise is married, with a young child, and runs a youth group at a local church in his native Reno, Nev. But he’s also unlike his ilk in his performances. Wise has been dominant over the last two seasons, winning the Winter X Games, The Dew Tour finals and the Grand Prix finals consecutively in 2011-12 and repeating gold at X Games, winning the FIS World Championships and the Grand Prix finals in 2012-13. He started off 201314 with a win at the first U.S. Team Olympic qualifier in the history of his sport, the Dew Tour’s iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge. “I was feeling a little nervous about the start to this season,” Wise, 23, said from Breckenridge in December. “Leading up to it, I felt like the vibe was going to be a little different with our sport now in the Olympics. But now that it’s contest time, everybody’s just out there having a good time.” Wise says the past year has been the best year in history for halfpipe skiing competition. “And I’ve loved every moment being a part of it,” he said. “I am proud of what the sport has become and excited to see it represented in the Winter Olympic Games.” — John LaConte

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| copper mountain resort Jamie Anderson, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., slides a rail on the slopestyle course at the Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in December. tripp fay

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snowboard slopestyle

T

he thing about halfpipe snowboarding in the Olympics is ... it always makes you want to see more high-flying Olympic snowboarding events. This year, it seems that desire will be fulfilled with slopestyle snowboarding, which will finally qualify railsliding as an Olympic-caliber athletic endeavor. And with the amount of talent enveloping the sport these days, slopestyle snowboarding in Sochi should certainly satisfy your appetite for flight. A few rails, a few jumps, a few judges and there you have it, a sport of Olympic proportions has finally realized its potential. Snowboard slopestyle at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held to the west of the Rosa Khutor plateau, at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

The Americans The most consistent American slopestyle rider over the last few competitions has been Chas Guldemond, 26, of Lake Tahoe, who just missed the podium at last year’s X Games and this year’s first Dew Tour and Grand Prix events with two fifth-place finishes and a fourth. “I know how important it is going to be that I focus on training my tricks going into the 2014 Olympics,” said Guldemond. “I changed my focus a bit when it came to my training. I have done things the same way for about eight years, so it was awesome to change it up and try some new things. I was able to learn a few really awesome new tricks, which makes me even more stoked to continue training through to the Olympics.” But don’t put anything past the world’s most famous snowboarder, Shaun White, who beat out Guldemond for a podium spot in the first Grand Prix Olympic qualifier of the season at Copper Mountain. White has put a new emphasis on slopestyle since it was announced that the event would seek Olympic status, and as a twotime Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe, he’s definitely looking to add more hardware to his always-growing collection.

International contenders Mark McMorris, 20, of Canada has been the man to watch in slopestyle snowboarding for the last few years. He won X Games in 2012-13, won the first Dew Tour event in 2013-14, and broke his ribs at X Games but is still expected to compete. McMorris is a fan favorite among Americans as well as Canadians, putting him in a similar situation as one of his major competitors, Torstein Horgmo, 26, of Norway, who spends so much time riding at Northstar resort in California that he’s nearly lost his Norwegian accent. Horgmo was the first to land the triple cork 1440 (back in 2010), a trick that will likely be necessary to land on the podium in Sochi. But since then, it’s been McMorris who’s perfected the triple, landing it in competition on multiple occasions and using it to top the field at X Games, a field that will likely look a lot like the one we’ll be watching on Russian snow in February. — John LaConte

jamie anderson Growing up in South Lake Tahoe, Jamie Anderson took advantage of everything the mountains had to offer. She chased around her older sisters on the mountain, using hand-me-down equipment, doing alpine ski racing, snowboard halfpipe and snowboardcross. But her true love was slopestyle — a sport whose core is the free-flowing park session that progresses from rails to smaller jumps to larger jumps. And she was pretty good at it. She won three X Games gold medals, seven Dew Tour gold medals, and three U.S. Grand Prix gold medals. Now, the sport is hitting the big time. Snowboard slopestyle will make its Olympic debut in Sochi, and Anderson is considered the favorite to win gold. “I’m like a kid in the candy shop,” Anderson, 23, said. “I’m really excited. I have no idea what to expect. It’s going to be really fun.” She sees slopestyle as a discipline that is more accessible than other winter sports. “I think a lot of people can relate to slopestyle because almost every mountain will have a small park,” she said. “Not every mountain has a halfpipe or maybe a boardercross event but most mountains have a small park where kids can start riding at a young age and just get into it.” — Ed Stoner

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Bobby Brown, of Denver and Breckenridge, flies off a jump during the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge in December. ap photo/julie jacobson

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skiing slopestyle

n the ever-popular sport of freeskiing, the newschoolers went from having zero Olympic events to having two. Now that slopestyle is officially on the calendar for Sochi, expect to see a deep field in Russia, with large fan galleries cheering on a sport that takes the old “big air” comps, multiplies them by three or four and adds a few rail slides. If you’re still trying to figure out what a double cork is, forget about it. Ski slopestyle at the Olympics will likely be decided by a triple cork or two on that last big jump (that’s three off-axis flips). Ski slopestyle at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held to the west of the Rosa Khutor plateau, at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

The Americans

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When Nick Goepper tells people he’s from Lawrenceburg, Ind., he usually gets a sarcastic response. But the beauty of slopestyle, and the reason some are suspecting it may overtake halfpipe in popularity one day, is the ease of entry into the sport. Goepper perfected his tricks at Indiana’s Perfect North, a hill with 300 feet of vertical and 100 percent man-made snow, proving that these days, many ski areas in the U.S. are capable of producing Olympic freeskiers by providing a couple jumps and rails at their terrain parks. Goepper, now 19, went on to win slopestyle at X Games in 201213, and started off 2013-14 by being the first American skier ever to qualify for an Olympic slopestyle team with a win and a runner-up in the first two qualifiers. Goepper was the only American to hit the podium at those events, but Bobby Brown, 22, a familiar name in the sport of freeskiing who won X Games’ slopestyle comp back in 2010, has been consistent in the 2013-14 early season, taking fourth and fifth in the first two qualifiers. On the women’s side, Julia Krass, 16, Keri Herman, 31, Maggie Voisin, 15, and Devin Logan, 20, all have a shot, but with how erratic the podiums have been in women’s slopestyle, it’s hard to make any predictions for the Americans.

International contenders The men’s international field in ski slopestyle should be fun to watch at the Olympics. Andreas Hatveit, 27, of Norway, Henrik Harlaut, 22, of Sweden, Russ Henshaw, 23, of Australia, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, 19, of Canada and James Woods, 22, of England, all have a shot at gold. At last year’s X Games, Harlaut became the first person ever to land a triple cork 1620 in the “best trick” competition. On the women’s side, the Canadians have a lot of talent, with Dara Howell, 19, Kaya Turski, 25, and Kim Lamarre, 25, all hitting the podium at major events recently. Norway’s Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen, 18, looked great at last year’s X Games, winning the slopestyle comp with her flawless railslide skills, spinning 90 degrees onto the first rail, reversing her momentum and executing a 180 degree spin in the other direction on the rail itself, and spinning another 270 degrees off the rail to stomp the landing. — John LaConte

keri herman If anything, Keri Herman thought she might one day make the Olympics in ice hockey. She grew up as a hockey star in a hockey-crazy family in hockey-crazy Minnesota. Skiing was something she did a little bit on spring breaks, but was nothing she took seriously. She hit her first rail when she was 21, as a senior at the University of Denver. Herman, who is now 31 and lives in Breckenridge, quickly realized it was something she could be pretty good at. “I picked up skiing so quickly because it is a lot of the same movements (as hockey),” Herman said. “You’re turning left, you’re turning right, you’re spinning to get around people. Skates are so much smaller than skis. Skis are like, ‘What? All this balance? This is easy!’” Slopestyle was just becoming a competitive sport as Herman got serious about it. No one was talking about it as a potential Olympic sport. But in 2011, the International Olympic Committee approved it for Sochi. “We never really thought it was an option,” Herman said. “X Games was the big thing. After going to the X Games it was like, ‘Hey, we did it!’ All of a sudden we have the opportunity to compete at the Olympics, and it’s really just incredible.” Herman won the World Cup slopestyle title in 2013. Now, she’s thinking about a standing on the Olympic podium. “It’s really an exciting time for all of us,” she said. — ED STONER

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Katie Uhlaender

Katie Uhlaender will compete in her third Olympics in skeleton. She finished sixth in Torino and 11th in Vancouver. u.s. bobsled and skeleton federation

Skeleton athlete is chasing her Olympic dream with the help of her father’s lessons

K

atie Uhlaender’s dad, Ted, was always there for her, whether it was to give a pep talk before a race, offer lessons about hard work and perseverance, or simply ask a simple question in response to a problem: “So what are you going to do about it?” Once he was gone, all she could think about was the void. Everything she did was marked by the fact that he wasn’t there. Before every race, she thought of how she would not be able to talk to him. That “warrior drive” that always he gave her with those pre-race talks — it was gone. I just want my dad back, she thought. Uehlander, 29, will appear in her third Olympics in skeleton. She is a Summit High School grad and was born in Vail. Her father was a Major League outfielder who played for the Twins, Indians and Reds. She wears his ashes in a baseball-shaped locket around her neck, along with his 1972 National League championship ring. In February 2009, six weeks after her father died of bone-marrow cancer, she was still in grief, reckless and without purpose. She crashed her snowmobile on Vail Pass, shattering her kneecap. It was surgically repaired, but she broke it again a few months later while she was on the dance floor in Las Vegas. After four surgeries that year, she was still able to make it to the Olympics in Vancouver, just 20 weeks off crutches.

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Exactly one year after her father died, she marched in the Opening Ceremony. A few days later, she stood at the top of the track, staring down her Olympic dream. But he wasn’t there. No pep talk, no warrior drive. “I had no real passion to go to the Olympics,” she said. “I didn’t want to medal, I wanted my dad. Plain and simple.” She finished a disappointing 11th. A talk with legendary Olympian Carl Lewis changed her perspective. Lewis, who had lost his own father when he was 24, told her about a toolbox. He said, ‘Once you’re able to let go, you’re going to feel closer to him, and that’s when all the knowledge he left you with, all the tools, are going to start to appear,’” she said. She thought the advice was a bit strange. A toolbox? Where is this toolbox? Meanwhile, she struggled in competition. In 2010-11, she finished 24th overall in the World Cup after finishing seventh, third and first in the previous three years. Her father’s voice became louder: “So what are you going to do about it?” She became more involved at the cattle ranch in Kansas that her father bought a few years before he died. The farming life reinforced her father’s lessons about hard work — roping and tagging calves, baling hay, a hard day’s work in the dirt. It also reinforced his lessons of selfimprovement. How can the farm be more productive, more efficient and more profitable than it was the previous day? “That was the attitude he encouraged

toward everything I did, whether it was playing rummy or a footrace,” she said. “The first time I threw a baseball, he was like, ‘Don’t ever throw a baseball like that again.’ And then he taught me how to do it right. He was fine with me messing up, but he would continually tell me how to improve.” That applies to throwing a baseball, farming, or sliding 90 miles an hour head-first down an icy track. After every race, Uhlaender analyzed the video of each turn, looking for ways to gain a fraction of a second here and there. She began to more seriously pursue weightlifting — something she already did for skeleton training — and won a bronze at the U.S. Championships in 2011. As she worked to improve herself, her communities of support — including her Breckenridge family — rallied around her in support. Her skeleton results improved. She finished sixth overall in World Cup in 201112. Most triumphantly, she won the World Championships in Lake Placid in 2012. All the tools — the hard work, the self-improvement, the perseverance — had presented themselves in the toolbox her father had left her. “When I won in 2012, I cannot tell you how close I felt to him,” Uhlaender said. “I was like, Carl Lewis, you’re so right. I feel like my dad is here with me every step of the way now, and especially when I’m out at the farm doing farm work or I’m training really hard or I’m hanging out with his friends. It just gives me an overwhelming sense of peace.” Uhlaender said in October that she’s training pain-free for the first time since 2009. She suffered a preseason concussion during a training run at Lake Placid, but she has bounced back to register two top 10s in World Cup races. “I guess the best part of everything right now is I’m doing this for me,” Uhlaender said. “I’m chasing my dream, but the icing on the cake is this is what he wanted for me. That gives me the confidence of a warrior with purpose.” — Ed Stoner

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other events

in the gold-medal game. Vancouver Games two of the last three world championships. MVP Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) will be back They won silver in Vancouver. on the USA roster, along with Zach Parise Jeremy Abbott, 28, who was born in Aspen, is (Minnesota Wild), Patrick Kane (Chicago one the U.S.’s top hopes in men’s singles, while Blackhawks), Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple 18-year-old U.S. champ Gracie Gold leads the Leafs) and Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks). pack for the women. Abbott and Gold both won Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland this year’s national championships. and the Czech Republic Two-time national champion Ski jumping are expected to have Ashley Wagner, 22, After years of struggle to get into the strong squads for the secured a spot despite a Olympics, women’s ski jumping will be Sochi games. disappointing fourthmaking its debut in Sochi. Lindsey Van, 29, The women’s team place finish in the U.S. of Park City, Utah, helped lead the fight, is led by veteran Championships. serving as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against forward Julie Chu, Defending gold the organizers of the Vancouver Olympics 31, who has medaled medalist Evan in 2009. The suit was unsuccessful, but the three times with Lysacek, 28, will not International Olympic Committee decided in Team USA — two compete in Sochi 2011 that women’s ski jumping would become silvers and a bronze. due to a hip injury. an Olympic sport. Van will finally get her The U.S. women chance to compete on athletics’ biggest stage. won the inaugural Sarah Hendrickson, 19, also of Park Curling gold in 1998, but City, is the reigning world champion. Both the men’s and Jeremy Abbott Canada has taken the top She was injured while jumping in women’s U.S. teams have spot at every Games since. August in Germany, and required ACL earned spots in Sochi. The Harvard’s Katey Stone has come reconstruction and MCL and meniscus men, led by skip John Shuster, on as head coach this year, marking the repair. She is aiming to return for Sochi. 31, will be aiming to win their first medal first time a woman has coached the team. Another Park City product, Jessica since the 2006 bronze, the only medal in U.S. Jerome, 26, won the Olympic trials there history. The American women, led by Erika in December. Her father, Peter, was the Brown, 41, will be aiming for their first medal. Moguls and aerials founder of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, a The Canadian men and the Swedish Competitors navigate a field of moguls foundation that helped push women’s ski women are ranked tops in the world. and launch off two jumps, doing tricks jumping toward Olympic acceptance. The Sochi curling event will feature 10 like the D-spin, cork 7 and back layout. men’s and women’s teams playing a nineDefending gold medalist Hannah Kearney, game round-robin tournament. A playoff 27, is again a favorite to stand atop the Skicross and snowboardcross will have semifinal and medal rounds. podium. She has topped the World Cup Skicross and snowboardcross puts four standings for the past three years. Kearney competitors on a course of jumps, rollers and leads a strong women’s team, which will banks, with the first two across the finish line Speed skating also include Heather McPhie, 29, Eliza advancing to the next round. Chris Del Bosco, A 17-member U.S. long track team will Outtrim, 28, and Heidi Kloser, 21, of Vail. 31, who races for Canada, grew up in Vail compete in Sochi, led by two-time gold For the men, Patrick Deneen, 27, will lead and finished in fourth in Vancouver in 2010. medalist Shani Davis, 31, and top medal the way for the American men. He won two This season, his Canadian teammate, David contenders Heather Richardson, 24, and bronze medals in the 2013 Worlds, and was Duncan, 31, is one of the hottest competitors Brittany Bowe, 25. In all, there are eight third in last season’s World Cup standings. previous Olympians and nine first-timers. on World Cup, winning back-to-back races in In aerials, athletes jump off a J.R. Celski, 23, who has stepped into Italy. John Teller, 30, of Mammoth, 4-meter-tall ramp and soar the void left by the retirement of Apolo Calif., is the top American in 55 feet in the air, spinning Anton Ohno, will race in three events World Cup racing this year. and twisting the whole in short track speedskating. Jessica In women’s way until they land. Smith, 30, will also race in the same three snowboardcross, Twenty-year-old events — 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters. Dominique Maltais, Ashley Caldwell, a 33, of Canada, has gymnast-turnedfinished in first Bobsled, luge and skeleton skier, has returned or second in every Defending gold medalist Steven Holcomb, from a knee injury World Cup race as 33, is seeking to repeat as gold-medal driver that sidelined her of mid-January. On for the four-man bobsled. Holcomb began for the entire 2012-13 the men’s side, Nate the World Cup season in dominant fashion, season. She will aim to Holland, 35, of Squaw winning the first seven races — three in fourimprove on her 10thValley, Calif., will be man and four in two-man. On the women’s place finish in Vancouver, a top contender. He side, Elana Meyers, 29, will be looking to Lindsey Van where she was the youngest barely missed the podium improve on the bronze medal she won in 2010. U.S. Olympian. The hardest in 2010, finishing fourth. A young U.S. luge team will try to keep trick she’ll do this year is the full“I can still feel the sting from up with perennial favorites Germany and full-full, which is three flips and three twists. Vancouver,” Holland said. “I was super Italy. Tucker West, 18, is the youngest Two-time Olympian Emily Cook, 34, will bummed with fourth place. I was in a position male to ever qualify for the luge squad. also be a strong American competitor, as will to win it, I knew I was, and it didn’t work out. In skeleton, American Noelle Pikus-Pace, 31, 18-year-old Mac Bohonnon on the men’s side. I’ve replayed that a million times in my head.” a mother of two, has come out of retirement and is a favorite to win the gold medal. Katie Uhlaender, 29, of Breckenridge, is on Ice hockey Figure skating the comeback trail after years of injuries The U.S. men’s team will be looking to top Meryl Davis, 26, and Charlie White, 26, are and is seeking her first Olympic medal. the silver medal it won in the 2010 Vancouver favorites for gold in ice dancing. The pair Games, where it lost in overtime to Canada has been together since 1997, and they won — Ed Stoner

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photo credits: Women’s Ski Jumping USA, U.S. Figure Skating

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Gold medalist Bill Demong, right, and silver medalist Johnny Spillane celebrate their medals for the Nordic combined individual event from the large hill during the medal ceremony at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia. ap photo

2 0 1 0 Va n co u v e r A m e r i c a n m e da l i sts Gold

2 0 1 0 Va n co u v e r m e da l co u n t Gold Silver Bronze Total 1 Canada (CAN) 14 7 5 26 2 Germany (GER) 10 13 7 30 3 United States (USA) 9 15 13 37 4 Norway (NOR) 9 8 6 23 5 South Korea (KOR) 6 6 2 14 6 Switzerland (SUI) 6 0 3 9 7 China (CHN) 5 2 4 11 8 Sweden (SWE) 5 2 4 11 9 Austria (AUT) 4 6 6 16 10 Netherlands (NED) 4 1 3 8 11 Russia (RUS) 3 5 7 15 12 France (FRA) 2 3 6 11 13 Australia (AUS) 2 1 0 3 14 Czech Republic (CZE) 2 0 4 6 15 Poland (POL) 1 3 2 6 16 Italy (ITA) 1 1 3 5 17 Belarus (BLR) 1 1 1 3 18 Slovakia (SVK) 1 1 1 3 19 Great Britain (GBR) 1 0 0 1 20 Japan (JPN) 0 3 2 5 21 Croatia (CRO) 0 2 1 3 22 Slovenia (SLO) 0 2 1 3 23 Latvia (LAT) 0 2 0 2 24 Finland (FIN) 0 1 4 5 25 Estonia (EST) 0 1 0 1 26 Kazakhstan (KAZ) 0 1 0 1 Total 86 87 85 258

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Hannah Kearney, Freestyle skiing, Women’s moguls Seth Wescott, Snowboarding, Men’s snowboard cross Shani Davis, Speed skating, Men’s 1000 meters Lindsey Vonn, Alpine skiing, Women’s downhill Shaun White, Snowboarding, Men’s halfpipe Evan Lysacek, Figure skating, Men’s singles Bode Miller, Alpine skiing, Men’s combined Bill Demong, Nordic combined, Individual large hill/10 km Steve Holcomb, Steve Mesler, Curtis Tomasevicz, Justin Olsen, Bobsled, Four-man

s i lv e r Apolo Ohno, Short track speed skating, Men’s 1500 meters Johnny Spillane, Nordic combined, Individual normal hill/ 10 km Julia Mancuso, Alpine skiing, Women’s downhill Julia Mancuso, Alpine skiing, Women’s combined Hannah Teter, Snowboarding, Women’s halfpipe Bode Miller, Alpine skiing, Men’s super-G Shani Davis, Speed skating, Men’s 1500 meters Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Figure skating, Ice dancing Brett Camerota, Todd Lodwick, Bill Demong, Johnny Spillane, Nordic combined, Team competition Johnny Spillane, Nordic combined, Individual large hill/ 10 km United States women’s national ice hockey team, Ice hockey, Women’s tournament Jeret Peterson,Freestyle skiing, Men’s aerials Katherine Reutter, Short track speed skating, Women’s 1000 meters Chad Hedrick, Brian Hansen, Jonathan Kuck, Trevor Marsicano, Speed skating, Men’s team pursuit United States men’s national ice hockey team, Ice hockey, Men’s tournament

bronze Shannon Bahrke, Freestyle skiing, Women’s moguls J. R. Celski, Short track speed skating, Men’s 1500 meters Bryon Wilson, Freestyle skiing, Men’s moguls Bode Miller, Alpine skiing, Men’s downhill Chad Hedrick, Speed skating, Men’s 1000 meters Scott Lago, Snowboarding, Men’s halfpipe Kelly Clark, Snowboarding, Women’s halfpipe Andrew Weibrecht, Alpine skiing, Men’s Super-G Lindsey Vonn, Alpine skiing, Women’s Super-G Apolo Ohno, Short track speed skating, Men’s 1000 meters Allison Baver, Kimberly Derrick, Alyson Dudek, Lana Gehring, Katherine Reutter, Short track speed skating, Women’s 3000 meter relay Erin Pac, Elana Meyers, Bobsled, Two-woman J. R. Celski, Simon Cho, Travis Jayner, Apolo Ohno, Jordan Malone, Short Track speed skating, Men’s 5000 meter relay

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