PARK CITY, UT Feb. 10, 2004 (USST) -— Two years out from the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team is assertively navigating its way on the path to Best in the World. With five weeks still to go in the season, U.S. athletes have set new benchmarks as sport leaders, been on the World Cup podium more than 40 times since the season opened, shown new depth and consistency, and even made a little history along the way.
"I know everyone is geared up to help our athletes make the steps necessary to prepare for success in Torino, said Alan Ashley, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association vice president of Athletics. "We know that to be Best in the World in 2006 we must keep focused on providing quality programs to support our athletes. We have taken steps every day at every level to improve our depth and strength, and we will continue to build on the strong foundation we have created already this season, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Season highlights to date include:
The men's team had the biggest roll in memory during the four days of racing at the Kitzbuehel World Cups that produced historic results — two victories and four top 3s.
Bode Miller has collected several "firsts for American racers as the first U.S. skier to win the opening World Cup event (Soelden, AUT); the first American man to win a World Cup race on U.S. soil since 1984 (Park City, UT); and the first American to win the Kitzbuehel (AUT) combined since Phil Mahre in 1983.
Daron Rahlves became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup downhill in America (Beaver Creek, CO) since Bill Johnson in '84; the first non-Austrian to win the Kitzbuehel super G; and is second in the downhill standings, chasing the points leader's red bib.
The women's team has scored 28 top 10s by nine different athletes, four of which have recorded career firsts including Lindsey Kildow with her first podium (Cortina, ITA) on one of the toughest women's downhills on the circuit.
Kirsten Clark had her career-first World Cup GS podium in December, making her the first U.S. racer in 20 years to podium in three different World Cup disciplines (not including combined) — DH, SG and GS.
As of this season, inverted airs in moguls skiing are allowed and off-axis jumps are prevalent on the World Cup circuit, and Americans are regularly landing on the podium with them. Shannon Bahrke made moguls history when she became the first woman to land a D-spin (an off-axis, double revolution) in a World Cup (Madonna di Campiglio, ITA).
The moguls team has collected 20 podiums by nine different athletes, three of whom are in their first full season on the World Cup circuit. Five men and four women also are ranked in the top 10. NORDIC
Cross country skier Kris Freeman posted the best World Cup finish by an American in nearly two decades with a fifth place in a 15K classic (Davos, SUI). Freeman has carved out a spot for himself in the World Cup circuit's exclusive "Red Group, which includes only the top 30 skiers.
Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick rang in the New Year by winning the prestigious German Grand Prix — a three-stop World Cup series — that included a win (Schonach, GER) and two thirds. He headed into February with 10 consecutive top 10s.
Hannah Teter proved she's the rider to beat in superpipe competitions: She won five straight times including the season's first World Cup HP, the first Vans Triple Crown, the first two stops of the Chevrolet U.S. Grand Prix and the X Games.
Lindsey Jacobellis has cruised like a seasoned professional in the new Olympic sport snowboardcross with three SBX wins including her first World Cup win in Bad Gastein, Austria, the Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix and defense of her X Games title. The vision of USSA is to make the United States of America the Best in the World by 2006 in Olympiic skiing and snowboarding by winning more medals than any other participating country. In 2002, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team achieved its goal to win 10 Olympic medals — the most ever — but that was just the beginning….