February 24, 2007
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany - (USST News Bureau Release) - The U.S. Ski Team's alpine men's squad, led by Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), signed autographs and posed for photos for nearly two hours at the U.S. armed forces recreational facility in Garmisch during its annual visit to say thanks to GIs and their families.
"This is a fun thing we do every year, if possible," said Men's Head Coach Phil McNichol of Friday night's visit to the 700-room Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, where vacationing American troops and their families stay.
"We bring the guys and sign autographs for an hour and 40, 45 minutes...and we stuck around to have dinner. It's a great opportunity for us to see some smiling Americans who are big fans of skiing and the Ski Team, who come out when we're racing in Garmisch.
"They're fired up and that gets us fired up."
McNichol cited the spa and other amenities at the Edelweiss - "We got to watch the Super Bowl here one year, which was pretty sweet" - as adding to the hospitality for the Ski Team athletes. "They've given us access to their facilities, from the spa to the laundry and the swimming pool, and it's been nothing but good for us," he said.
Normally, it's the speed skiers who participate in the festive occasion, but this year, the Ski Team's tech skiers got to take part, too, because there's a World Cup slalom Sunday. Ligety and Scott Macartney (Redmond, WA) - who was second in the super G in Garmisch a year ago to clinch a spot on his second Olympic Team, were joined by Olympic teammates Jimmy Cochran (Keene, NH) and Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA), JJ Johnson (Park City, Cody Marshall (Pittsfield, VT), Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) and Roger Brown (Norwich, VT) as they met with the resort guests in the balcony area of the Edelweiss.
Perhaps the visit has a bit more meaning for McNichol, who brother is a career soldier with a couple of sons in the military, including one about to graduate from West Point and another who has served a couple of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. "They're putting themselves on the line in dangerous places," he said, "and this is the least we can do to say thanks in some small way."