Vonn, Ligety Locked and Loaded for Levi

The World Cup title holders are ready for the second alpine World Cup of the early season, a slalom set for Nov. 15-16 in Levi, Finland.
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PARK CITY, UT (Nov. 12)

- World Cup title holders Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) are locked and loaded for the second alpine World Cup of the early season, a slalom set for Nov. 15-16 in Levi, Finland.

Fans can follow the races via live timing

HERE

. First run start times are set for 4 a.m. ET followed by a second run at 7 a.m. ET.

Universal Sports, available in 30 million homes, will also offer same day TV and online coverage of the kickoff slalom beginning each day at 2 p.m. ET on the Universal Sports 24-hour TV network. Streaming coverage will also be available free-of-charge at

UniversalSports.com

.

Up to bat first is Vonn, the overall and downhill World Cup champion with the women's race on Saturday. The reigning U.S. champion has had the best World Cup slalom results of her career in Levi, finishing fourth and sixth in back-to-back races held on the Black slope in November of 2006. Also racing are Hailey Duke (Boise, ID) and Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO).

Last winter's races in Levi were bumped to Reiteralm, Austria due to poor snow conditions, but local organizers and the FIS officially gave this season's races a thumbs up last week during a successful snow check. Workers are currently injecting the race hill with water to ensure optimal conditions and making final preparations on the training hill.

"Vonn has been skiing some excellent slalom lately," said women's Head Coach Jim Tracy following a morning training session at Copper Mountain, CO. "Hailey had some good results in Europa Cup slaloms last week and Sarah has been training hard in Bormio [Italy] or wherever the snow is good in Europe. The girls are ready to get into the bulk of the season."

Duke boosted a sixth during an indoor slalom last week in Germany, but says she's ready to get back into the World Cup starting gate, a spot she earned last season after back-to-back slalom wins on the Europa Cup in Lenggries, Germany.

For Schleper, Levi marks another start en route to a successful return to World Cup racing. Traditionally Schleper's strongest event, she had one victory, two seconds and 20 other top 10's in the discipline before suffering a 2006 injury that knocked her out for the 2007 season. She then opted to miss the 2008 season in order to start a family. It will be Schleper and Duke's first time skiing at Levi.

Starting for men on Sunday will be Ligety, Jimmy Cochran (Keene, NH), Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV), Cody Marshall (Pittsfield, VT), Tim Kelley (Starksboro, VT) and two-time World Cup overall champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH). The men's program is currently training in Sweden prior to moving over to Finland for the race.

"Ted, Jimmy and 'Jit' are in a place, mentally and physically where they're ready to get into this season," said men's Head Coach Sasha Rearick. "After his results in Soelden, it's pretty evident Ted is ready to go and both Jitloff and Tim Kelley had good results at the indoor Europa Cups last week. At only 20 seconds long, those are not easy races. And Cody just needs to get on a real hill and let it loose."

Ligety is rolling off a third place finish in the opening World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria. He also spent a good portion of the summer focusing on his slalom training with a goal of contending for the 2009 World Cup slalom title. The reigning World Cup giant slalom champion has six career World Cup podiums in slalom.

Cochran, the 2008 U.S. slalom champion, was 15th in Levi during the 2006 race and continues to improve his slalom. He had a pair of top-10 finishes last season in Adelboden, Switzerland and Alta Badia, Italy. Marshall scored his first World Cup points last season in slalom with a 19th in Wengen, Switzerland and 23rd in Zagreb, Croatia.

Organizers at Levi are expecting a record crowd, thanks to the help of an event sponsor who donated 14,000 tickets for the two-day event to local students.

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