February 17, 2013

US gets most golds at ski worlds

By ANDREW DAMPF, The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Ted Ligety, of the United States, takes a bite out of his gold medal in the giant slalom. Ligety won three golds at the Alpine skiing world championships in Schladming, Austria.

AP

"Our goal is not to have just one (contender) per event," Riml said. "We got to have two and three."

Entering the 2006 Turin Olympics, the American spotlight was largely on Miller, while in Vancouver it was almost entirely on Vonn. This time, maybe it will be on the entire team.

"There is so much pressure on those athletes already, and if you strengthen our team that takes away a lot of pressure from everybody," Riml said.

One key to strengthening the team has been the opening of two key facilities in recent years: the Center of Excellence at the team's home base in Park City, Utah, an ultra-modern physical training and education facility; and a speed training center for downhill and super-G at Copper Mountain, Colo.

The Center of Excellence was designed to replicate the style and feel of a college campus and includes strength-training areas, ski ramps, a nutrition center, rehabilitation facilities and a sport science lab.

Sounds like a great place for Vonn to use as she recovers from surgery to repair two torn tendons in her right knee.

Besides allowing its own athletes optimal training before the North American speed races at the start of each World Cup season, the Copper facility has enabled the U.S. to arrange key deals with other federations by allowing teams such as Austria, Italy and Russia to use it, too.

In exchange, the Austrians allowed the Americans to train on the worlds' courses in Schladming on several different occasions earlier this season; the Italians opened up several of their training sites - perfect when the weather is bad in Austria and Switzerland but sunny on the southern side of the Alps; and perhaps most valuable of all, the Russians have given the U.S. free access to the Olympic slopes in Sochi - something no other team besides Russia has.

"With that venue we're in the driver's seat and we can choose and pick who we want to work with," Riml said. "Obviously we want something in return."

Over the next couple of weeks, a group of about 10 Americans led by Ligety and Shiffrin will fly to Sochi for an in-season training camp.

"It is preparation for the next chapter," Riml said. "To have the opportunity to be on that hill it's priceless. That's why we try to build those relationships all over the world."

As for the next worlds, the U.S. won't need to build any partnerships. That's because they'll be held on home snow in Vail-Beaver Creek, Colo., in 2015.

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