Alpine Skiing Preview

The U.S. Alpine Ski Team enjoyed great success at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games with Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety grabbing Olympic gold, Andrew Weibrecht taking silver, and Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso claiming bronze medals. At 18, Shiffrin became the youngest athlete in history (male or female) to win an Olympic slalom gold medal, while at 36 years old, Miller became the oldest alpine medalist in Olympic history. Team USA is more than capable of matching their Sochi success in PyeongChang, and could even surprise with more spectacular performances to exceed expectations.

Heading into the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, things look promising with gold medalist and honorary PyeongChang Olympic Games Ambassador Lindsey Vonn returning to action—hungry for gold. Additionally, Olympic gold medalists Mancuso, Ligety and Shiffrin plan to lead a strong squad. Two-time Olympic medalist Weibrecht, along with American downhill teammates Steven Nyman and Travis Ganong, will also be aiming for hardware in PyeongChang. The strong and consistent Laurenne Ross will also look to leave her mark on the Games while you young, promising talents – like Bryce Bennett, Jared Goldberg, Jackie Wiles and Breezy Johnson in speed events, and AJ Ginnis in slalom – will also look to make an impression.  

PyeongChang promises to be a wild ride, with plenty of reasons to tune in and follow the action.

Storylines

  • The winningest female ski racer of all-time, Lindsey Vonn is one of six women to have won world cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing—downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined. She’s won 77 world cup races in her career, which are an all-time women's record, passing Annemarie Moser-Pröll of Austria who had held the record since the 1970s, and only Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden with 86 world cup victories has more. With her Olympic gold and bronze medals, two world championship gold medals in 2009 (plus three silver medals in 2007 and 2011), and four overall world cup titles, Vonn has become the most successful American ski racer in history.

  • Since winning her Olympic gold medal in 2014, Mikaela Shiffrin has been on fire on the world cup circuit. Her current winning streak in slalom is six and she’s won three world championship gold medals, four world cup slalom titles, and with 31 career wins (as of September 2017), she owns the second most world cup victories by an American woman, behind only Lindsey Vonn with 77. Shiffrin joined an elite group of American skiers in 2017, becoming just the fifth to win an Overall title, and she did it at a mere 22-years-old. She was also second overall in the giant slalom standings and grabbed her first alpine combined victory in 2017.

  • Ted Ligety underwent back surgery in January 2017, causing him to miss the rest of the 2016-17 season. The two-time Olympic gold medalist will focus on the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, intending to come back strong as a medal contender. Though a knee injury also had him sidelined for much of the 2016 season, if healthy, he will be a strong contender for gold in PyeongChang. The Yongpyong Alpine Centre is a special venue for Ligety, as it is the home of his very first Audi FIS Ski World Cup giant slalom victory in 2006.

  • The U.S. men’s downhill skiers are a strong group, a band of brothers who are tight-knit and could rack in the points at any given world cup event. Travis Ganong has won a world cup and placed second in the downhill at the 2015 Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships, but he’s never won an Olympic medal. Veteran Steven Nyman suffered a knee injury in 2017 and is making a strong comeback for PyeongChang 2018. He had two consistently strong seasons in 2015 and 2016, including a podium finish at the PyeongChang downhill test event in 2016. Nyman has his sights set on becoming the first U.S. men’s downhill skier to win the title. Although he has never won a world championship medal, Nyman owns 11 world cup podium finishes (as of September 2017). In 2016, he recorded a four-podium-finish streak – something no U.S. male downhill skier had ever done before.

Athletes To Watch

Ted Ligety
Ligety (Park City, Utah) redefined the giant slalom discipline, earning the nickname “Mr. GS.” The two-time Olympic champion won the combined event at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, and in 2014, became the first American man to win a giant slalom gold medal and the first in U.S. history to win two Olympic gold medals in alpine skiing. In giant slalom, Ligety is second only to the great Ingemar Stenmark (46 wins) in world cup victories, with 24. If healthy, he will be a strong contender to win gold again at the 2018 Olympics.

Julia Mancuso
With four medals, Mancuso (Squaw Valley, California) is the most decorated Olympic alpine skier on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team. She won the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and was the silver medalist in both downhill and combined in 2010, and the bronze medalist in the combined in 2014. She also owns five world championship medals (two silvers and three bronzes) and has won seven races in regular world cup competition. A hip injury sidelined her for the 2016 season, but she hopes to return to world cup action for the 2017-18 circuit with her sights set on PyeongChang in 2018.

Steven Nyman
Nyman (Sundance, Utah) has yet to win an Olympic medal but will have a chance to do so in 2018. In the Olympic test event in 2016, he finished third in downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center. Filled with big jumps and a lot of terrain, the newly developed course in Jeongseon fits Nyman's skill set perfectly. According to Nyman, the Olympic course feels like a combination between the dry, grippy, buttery smooth snow at Beaver Creek, Colorado, and the flow at Val Gardena, Italy.

Mikaela Shiffrin
At age 18 in 2014, Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colorado) became the youngest athlete in history (male or female) to win an Olympic slalom gold medal, and she’s poised for another slalom gold in 2018. She can also become a threat in giant slalom in PyeongChang, and now that she’s skiing speed events, will also look to be a medal hopeful in the combined and super-G.

Lindsey Vonn
When she’s healthy, Vonn (Vail, Colorado) is the best in the sport. The winningest female ski racer of all-time owns Olympic gold (downhill) and bronze (super-G) medals from 2010. The three-time Olympian was sidelined due to injury during the Sochi Games in 2014, and is looking to head into PyeongChang with a vengeance, while also serving as an honorary Olympic Ambassador. At the PyeongChang test event in 2016, Vonn finished second to Italy’s Sofia Goggia in both the downhill and the super-G – by a mere 0.11 hundredths of a second total – making her even more hungry for gold in PyeongChang.

Andrew Weibrecht 
A two-time Olympic medalist, Weibrecht (Lake Placid, New York) is coming off his most successful world cup season in 2016. He grabbed the 2010 Olympic super-G bronze medal and then in 2014, produced a truly inspirational run to claim silver. The result added his name to the elite two-time Olympic medalist club for American men, along with Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Tommy Moe and Phil Mahre.

Qualification

To be selected, athletes must achieve a ranking within the top 500 on the FIS Olympic points list, which combines an average of results from July 2016-January 2018, or a specified level within each individual Olympic event. Nations may enter up to 22 athletes (which can include a maximum of 14 athletes of either gender and up to four competitors per event) with quota spots determined through international results by each nation during the same time period.

Click here to view the complete 2018 Olympic qualification procedures for alpine skiing.

Selection

Athletes are selected for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team based on various criteria, in part utilizing results from the FIS Alpine Ski World Cups during the 2017-18 season, along with the FIS points ranking list.

Editor’s Note: This selection process overview is designed to provide general information only and should not be relied upon by athletes attempting to make the U.S. Olympic Team. The selection process is formally governed by selection procedures published by each National Governing Body. Athletes and other individuals interested in the selection process should contact the appropriate NGB to obtain the full selection procedures, or to seek clarification of the process.

Key Dates

October 2017-March 2018

FIS Ski World Cup

Schedule of Events

Qualification for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team includes the FIS World Cup races in Cortina, Italy and Kitzbuehel, Austria, to be held Jan. 20-21, 2018. The official team roster will be announced following these races on Jan. 22, 2018.