There were no surprises when the U.S. Ski Team announced its squad Sunday for the Sochi Olympics: Mikaela Shiffrin and Bode Miller are on the list and, of course, Lindsey Vonn is not.
Miller, a five-time Olympic medalist, made his fifth squad, and 2006 Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso also earned spots. In all, the Americans have nine women and 11 men on the team.
Shiffrin, 18, could be the headliner in Russia, especially with Vonn, the reigning Olympic downhill champion, staying home to recuperate following another operation on her right knee.
Shiffrin is having quite a season, winning three World Cup slalom races. She will be heavily counted on to help the Americans try to top their record eight-medal haul in Vancouver four years ago.
Too much pressure for someone so young?
“I’m not worried about the Olympics, that it’s going to overwhelm her,” U.S. women’s coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. “There’s nothing else she wants right now except success. It was no different than when Lindsey was her age. She was the same way.”
Miller is rounding back into form, taking second during a super-G race in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Sunday. He was away from competition for 20 months as he recovered from micro-fracture surgery on his left knee. It’s an injury that could’ve ended his career, but he will be in the starting gates in Russia, with the intention of skiing numerous events. He’s coming off his most successful Olympics, winning a medal of every color in Vancouver.
“I don’t think Bode ever doubted that he’d be at this point right now and I don’t think he ever contemplated that he would stop before this,” said Luke Bodensteiner, the executive vice president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Association. “We believed in him and believed he could make an effective return from his injury.
“I think Bode is very cognizant of stature, very cognizant of the legacy he wants to leave, and he’s got some unfinished business and really wants to see this through.”
Other members of the team on the men’s side are David Chodounsky, Erik Fisher, Travis Ganong, Jared Goldberg, Tim Jitloff, Nolan Kasper, Steven Nyman, Marco Sullivan and Andrew Weibrecht, who won a bronze medal in Vancouver.
The women’s team includes Julia Ford, Megan McJames, Laurenne Ross, Leanne Smith, Resi Stiegler and Jacqueline Wiles.