Four Burning Questions for the U.S. Ski Team

As the World Cup kicks into high gear, there’s reason for excitement…unless you’re a Ligety fan.

Can Mikaela Shiffrin win the Overall?

Short answer: Yes, judging by her year-ending three-peat performance at Semmering, Austria, which included two wins in GS. Though she’s utterly dominant in slalom (her amazing streak of 12 straight wins finally came to an end this week in Croatia) and currently holds a commanding 215-point lead in the Overall standings, Shiffrin needs to be competitive in GS if she’s going fend off the likes of last year’s champ, Lara Gut. In the five GSes so far this year, she has two wins, a second, a fifth, and a sixth. That has to have Gut and the Swiss coaches worried.

Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull

Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull

How soon can Lindsey Vonn resume her assault on The Record?

Very soon, apparently—despite a badly broken arm sustained while training at Copper Mountain in DecemberCK. With 76 wins, Vonn remains 10 shy of Ingmar Stenmark for the all-time career-wins record (a record that long seemed unbreakable). And though it’s no longer easy to imagine her making history at, say, Aspen’s World Cup Finals in March, the U.S. Team’s alpine director told the Associated Press on Wednesday that she had resumed skiing Tuesday and planned to travel next week to Austria, where there’s a downhill scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 14-15.

Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull

Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull

What’s up with Ted Ligety?

It doesn’t sound good. A season-opening fifth place at Solden, Austria, looked promising—evidence that last year’s season-ending knee injury was behind him. But the bigger issue now is his back. After skiing out near the top of the first run at Alta Badia just before Christmas, Ligety spoke of “stabbing pain all the way down my leg—nerve pain,” adding, “I’ve been getting injections and trying to get it sorted out but it hasn’t really turned the corner yet.”

Any up-and-comers to watch?

Yes. Ryan Cochran-Siegle, a Richmond, Vt., native and the son of 1972 Olympic slalom gold-medalist Barbara Ann Cochran, has been providing attack-from-the-back excitement this year.