Ted Ligety (pictured), Mikaela Shiffrin, Julia Mancuso and the U.S. Ski Team head into the Alpine World Cup Finals with serious momentum. Here's Ligety shredding GS at the World Championships in Schladming, Austria. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/ESPA)
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (March 11) – The March 13-17 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals will cap a record shattering year for the U.S. Alpine Ski Team that has already included 31 World Cup podiums and 16 victories from 10 different athletes. Triple World Champion Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) enters the week having already secured the fourth giant slalom title of his career and stands poised to finish no worse than a career best third in the overall standings. Seventeen-year-old slalom World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) will enter a winner-take-all battle with Tina Maze for the slalom title, while Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) is in a fight with the dominant Slovenian for the super G title.
World Cup Finals reduce the field down to the top 25 in each discipline, giving the year’s beast athletes a chance to take care of unfinished business. Rarely before has so much been at stake for the U.S. Ski Team. In short, every race, every point and every turn count.
He has absolutely dominated GS this season, winning five GS races by some of the biggest margins in history.
He has now been on all eight 2012-13 World Cup GS podiums, the first man to be on the podium for the first eight giant slalom races of a World Cup season since Michael von Grünigen did it in 1995-96.
He is now the fifth man in history to win at least five giant slalom races in one season, and the first since Hermann Maier in 2000-01. The only others to have achieved this feat are legends Ingemar Stenmark (three times), Michael von Grünigen and Alberto Tomba.
Ligety has surpassed Tomba, moving into outright third place all-time in men's World Cup giant slalom victories with 16. Stenmark (46) and von Grünigen (23) are the only men with more World Cup giant slalom wins.
He stands third in overall standings, 922-848 over Felix Neureuther of Germany.
His World Cup walloping plus his triple gold at the World Championships in Schladming, Austria have put Shred on track for the best season of his career and elevated him to new legend status.
She’s only seven points behind Slovenia’s Tina Maze, a gap that could be easily closed with one final slalom victory, which would give Shiffrin the crystal globe.
After Sunday, she sits eighth in the overall standings in only her second full year on the tour.
She currently shares the non-European record of three World Cup slalom wins with Tamara McKinney from the U.S. (1982/83) and Claudia Riegler from New Zealand (1996/97).
In addition to her three World Cup wins, Shiffrin became the slalom World Champion in Schladming, Austria, her first World Champs medal.
She became the third youngest woman to win a slalom World Championship. She was the youngest American to win a title since 17 year-old (slightly younger) Diann Roffe won gold in giant slalom at Bormio, Italy in 1985.
She's also the first American to win a Championship or Olympic slalom since Barbara Cochran won at the 1972 Olympics and World Championships in Sapporo.
Shiffrin has held her position as the Longines Rising Ski Star Leader for months, more than doubling the next best score.
She turns 18 on March 13 and has proved this season is only the beginning.
Sunday, March 17 Men's slalom – Ted Ligety, David Chodounsky Women's giant slalom – Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin
QUOTES Ted Ligety It's cool to go into World Cup Finals without the stress of the giant slalom title, but my goal now is to get third in the overall. Felix [Neureuther] and I have been battling for that position for a little while now and with his giant slalom and slalom power, that's going to be difficult. But hopefully I can ski a good super G and also ski well in the giant slalom and we'll see what happens. I'll ski everything from now until the season is done.
Mikaela Shiffrin I want the globe, but we’ll see if it works out that way. I’m really excited for Lenzerheide. I trained there a few weeks ago and it is a really awesome hill. It’s always exciting to have the very last race be important to the end. It’s nice to know that in the slalom this year there was a battle for the end and anybody could win.
Julia Mancuso This is a fun and difficult course. I hope the weather stays good so we can race it. My goal for this season is still to win a race and I feel like if I can do that, then I'll put myself in a good position to challenge for the super G globe. I'm going to fight hard and see what I can do. On this hill you have to be on line and you have to go for it. It's steep and it doesn't let off. You have to be completely committed.