World Cup season is fast approaching, and the women’s ski team has been hard at work prepping for the October 27th opener in Soelden, Austria.
Since the beginning of October, 16 year old Mikaela Shiffrin and veteran team member Resi Stiegler have been busy training on the Rettenbach Glacier, located high above the World Cup race hill. Both athletes won their very first World Cup medals last season, and are looking to continue building on their records. Shiffrin is looking to continue the impressive performance she exhibited in 2011/2012 and solidify her place among the top ranking female skiers. Stiegler hopes to make a strong return to the competitive scene after recovering from ACL surgery to repair injuries sustained during the World Cup Finals in Schladming, Austria last March.
“I’ve had seven days of training in Soelden since October 1st and it’s been really good”, said Shiffrin. “Every second I’m able to train on snow is a second I’ll take. Being here is definitely helping me work out the pre-race jitters well before race day.”
The conditions have been rugged, which is exactly what I need right now. The race hill in Soelden is one the toughest giant slalom races all year and I’m going to be starting quite a bit back so I’m learning how to handle the ruts and the bumps.
The pair will soon be joined by Olympic Champion and four-time World Cup overall champion Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso this upcoming weekend. There will be a lot on each athlete’s plate as they fine-tune their strategies for the October 27th race, where Vonn is currently the defending champion. Shiffrin, Vonn and Mancuso will all be starting in the race. Stiegler is scheduled to sit out from competition until at least a few more weeks — the hope is that she will be ready for the season’s opening slalom event in Levi, Finland.
“We’ve been taking things pretty slow, but I’m feeling awesome”, explained Stiegler. “I haven’t had any pain in my knee and I think a lot of that has to do with how hard I worked this summer. I’m a lot stronger than I’ve ever been. My goal is to race in Levi [Finland], but if I can’t race until Aspen or later, that’s OK. I’m not going to push it.”
With the season opener just a few weeks away, the women’s ski team is going to be pushing themselves (and each other) to ensure they maintain the U.S. Ski Team’s reputation as one of the most dominant forces on the World Cup scene.