All eyes are focused on defending Soelden champions Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) this weekend when the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup opens with a pair of giant slalom races high on the Rettenbach glacier. The duo combined to sweep the top of the podium last October with Vonn picking up the first World Cup giant slalom win of her career as Ligety notched his fourth straight podium in Soelden. With the race start at 10,000 feet, the Soelden race hill opens with a gradual pitch then takes a diving turn over the glacier knuckle onto a notoriously icy pitch into the glacier stadium. Olympic giant slalom gold medalist Julia Mancuso (Squaw Valley, CA) has a Soelden podium to her credit as she will also be in the gate along with Soelden rookies Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) and Robby Kelley (Starksboro, VT). Notably absent is Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) who is still recovering from spring knee surgery. The U.S. Ski Team has been in Soelden, their European Training Base, since mid-month prepping for the season opener.
The Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season begins October 27 in Soelden, Austria with a women’s giant slalom, followed by a men’s giant slalom on October 28. It will also be the first World Cup race on new race skis after the FIS instituted a change in the minimum radius for a giant slalom ski from 27 to 35 meters. Joining Vonn, Mancuso and Shiffrin is Megan McJames (Park City, UT). Joining Ligety and Kelley on the men’s side are Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV) and Warner Nickerson (Gilford, NH). It will be the first World Cup start for Kelley, who is a member of the famous “Skiing Cochran’s” family, and the first start in Soelden for Shiffrin, 17, who scored giant slalom points during her rookie year on tour and had a slalom podium last winter.