By Blythe Lawrence | Feb. 04, 2019, 2:33 p.m. (ET)

The finish line of a long and glorious career in her sights, Lindsey Vonn will take to the slopes for last time as a member of Team USA at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, which begin in earnest Tuesday in Are, Sweden. 

How Vonn will go out is one of the big stories surrounding the U.S. ski team this week, but it’s certainly not the only one. For Mikaela Shiffrin, her fourth world championships is another chance to make history as she goes after an unprecedented fourth consecutive world slalom title. Ted Ligety and the U.S. men, meanwhile, are podium hunting after a number of recent almosts on the world cup circuit. 

The diverse band of skiers set to fly the red, white and blue in Are also includes worlds rookies Brian McLaughlin, Alice Merryweather, Nina O’Brien as well as world and Olympic veterans Steven Nyman, Travis Ganong and Laurenne Ross. Here’s a closer look at the 13 skiers who will be competing in Sweden this week and next.

Mikaela Shiffrin
Hometown: Eagle-Vail, Colorado
Events to Watch: Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G, Combined
What to Expect: Sheer dominance, provided Shiffrin keeps skiing the way she has all season. The two-time Olympic gold medalist has racked up 13 wins on the world cup circuit since November (a record for an American in a single season), snowplowing records with the same ease she shown in trouncing her competition. During the past two months alone, the ski prodigy from Vail has become the only woman to have won world cup races in all six alpine skiing events, the only skier ever to have won 15 world cup races in a calendar year and broken the record for the most world cup victories ever in her specialty, the slalom, where she now has 38 world cup wins. The Swedish city holds a special place in Shiffrin’s heart — it was there in 2012 that she attained her first world cup victory. 


Lindsey Vonn
Age: 34
Hometown: Vail, Colorado
Events to Watch: Downhill, Super-G
What to Expect: An emotional farewell from one of the great skiers of all time. Guts and grit and blistering speed have propelled Vonn to 82 world cup victories, Olympic gold in downhill at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 and seven world championships medals, including titles in downhill and super-G in 2009. Sustained success has been present despite a number of potentially debilitating injuries — part of the incredible history of Lindsey Vonn is how many times she has defied the odds to return to form. After disappointing finishes in races this season following yet another injury, Vonn recognized that the time to retire has come, and will make her competitive farewell in Are. No matter where she finishes in her races, the swansong is sure to be a memorable one.


Ted Ligety

Age: 34
Hometown: Park City, Utah
Events to Watch: Giant Slalom, Super-G, Combined
What to Expect: The first American to capture an Olympic title in men’s giant slalom as well as the only U.S. man to hold two Olympic gold medals in alpine skiing, Ligety is one of the lions of the sport. With five crystal globes and 25 world cup victories to his name, the four-time Olympian and five-time world champion is hoping to recapture some of his old momentum following two rough years where he was sidelined by injuries. His best finish at the 2018 Olympics was fifth in combined.

Travis Ganong

Age: 30
Hometown: Squaw Valley, California
Events to Watch: Downhill, Super-G
What to Expect: Fifth in the Olympic downhill in 2014 and back this year after a knee injury kept him from making a play for the 2018 Olympic team, the 2015 world silver medalist in downhill has nothing to lose. Ganong thrives when the run is hairy and scary — his first-place finish in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in 2017 came on a course that two other elite skiers, including teammate Steven Nyman, had to be airlifted off. Ganong rang in his comeback from injury last fall with a sixth-place finish in the downhill at the world cup in Val Gardena.

Bryce Bennett

Age: 26
Hometown: Squaw Valley, California
Events to Watch: Downhill, Super-G
What to Expect: A man chasing a podium. Standing 6 feet, 7 inches tall, Bennett cuts an imposing figure at the starting gate. He made an impression with top-20 finishes in downhill and alpine combined in his Olympic debut last season in PyeongChang. He’s built on that so far this season, where he finished fourth in men’s downhill at world cup events in Val Gardena and Bormio, Italy, late in 2018, and was fifth in Wengen, Switzerland, last month. His personal best at worlds is an 11th-place finish in combined, recorded in 2017.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle

Age: 26
Hometown: Starksboro, Vermont
Events to Watch: Giant Slalom
What to Expect: The son of ski royalty — his mom is 1972 Olympic slalom gold medalist Barbara Ann Cochran and four other members of his family are Olympians — Cochran-Siegle rose to the occasion in his first Olympic appearance in PyeongChang, posting the third-fastest second run in the giant slalom to land in a tie for 11th place. An experienced competitor, he has felt the triumph of a top-10 finish on the world cup circuit but also the literal pain of failure: a year after winning two gold medals at junior worlds in 2012, he tore his ACL and MCL racing at the world championships in 2013. Healthy today, he will be in the hunt for better finishes this week.

Tommy Ford

Age: 29
Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Events to Watch: Giant Slalom
What to Expect: A late bloomer on the rise. Ford has spent more than a decade on the national team, but the two-time Olympian has only started coming into his own lately, posting consistent top-10 finishes on world cup stages. In Alta Badia, Italy, in December, he set a new personal best with a fifth-place finish in giant slalom. Are is familiar terrain for him — he was eighth in the giant slalom there in March 2017.

Brian McLaughlin
Age: 25
Hometown: Topsfield, Massachusetts
Events to Watch: Giant Slalom
What to Expect: A versatile skier, McLaughlin heads to Are for his world championships debut as the rookie of the promising U.S. team. The Dartmouth College team member has sharpened his skills on the Nor-Am circuit, recording several first-place finishes.

Alice Merryweather

Age: 22
Hometown: Hingham, Massachusetts
Events to Watch: Downhill, Super-G
What to Expect: It was just two years ago that Alice Merryweather won the women’s downhill at the junior world championships in Are during her rookie season on the world cup circuit, but so much has happened since. A first-timer at worlds, Merryweather returns to Are a 2018 Olympian and far more experienced world cup competitor, albeit one still searching for her first podium finish. She finished a career-best eighth in a downhill world cup one week ago.

Paula Moltzan
Age: 24
Hometown: Prior Lake, Minnesota
Events to Watch: Slalom
What to Expect: Since finishing her first world cup race in 2016, Moltzan has shown flashes of greatness, but only recently has she begun putting together top-20 finishes in slalom. Her only previous world championship experience was a 20th-place finish in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in 2015, but she heads to Are with the wind at her back, having finished 12th and 16th, respectively, in her last two world cup starts. 

Steven Nyman

Age: 36
Hometown: Sundance, Utah
Events to watch: Downhill, Super-G
What to expect: The elder statesman of the Team USA at 36, the laid-back four-time Olympian missed competing in PyeongChang due to an ACL tear. Rehabbed and ready for Are, Nyman, who owns three world cup golds and 15 top-five world cup finishes, all in downhill, is back to prove that he’s still one of the kings of the mountain.

Nina O’Brien
Age: 21
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Events to Watch: Slalom, Giant Slalom
What to Expect: While finding her footing on the world cup circuit, O’Brien has been a standout on the Nor-Am circuit, where she’s bagged five first-place finishes so far this season in slalom, giant slalom and super-G. Preparing for her world championships debut has meant juggling skiing with undergrad studies at Dartmouth, but O’Brien has even found time to contribute to a column in Ski Racer magazine with her friend and teammate Tricia Mangan, poking fun at how people have difficulty telling them apart.

Laurenne Ross

Age: 30
Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Events to Watch: Downhill, Super-G
What to Expect: The two-time Olympian, whose grandfather captained Canada’s men’s ice hockey team to gold at the 1952 Olympic Games, has stood on two world cup podiums and claimed a dozen top-five individual finishes in her eight years on the U.S. team. She finished 15th in both the downhill and super-G in PyeongChang. Her career best at the world championships came two years ago in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where she came fifth in the downhill.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.