Marco Sullivan

Lindsey Vonn

U.S. Alpine skiing team nominations for 2014-15 announced

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Lindsey VonnMikaela ShiffrinJulia MancusoTed Ligety and Bode Miller were among 38 athletes nominated to the U.S. Ski Team for the 2014-15 season on Wednesday.

Vonn, 29, aims to return from January knee surgery for the first speed races of the World Cup season in December, a little over one month after the campaign starts with a giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.

Shiffrin, 19, hopes to build off winning Olympic gold and the World Cup season title in the slalom. Her next goals include winning her first World Cup giant slalom race and perhaps entering her first super-G events, in particular at the 2015 World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek, Colo., in February.

Mancuso, 30, is coming off an interesting season. She won Olympic bronze in the super combined but did not finish higher than 15th in any World Cup discipline.

Ligety, 29, at last won Olympic giant slalom gold in Sochi. His aspirations are even higher on the World Cup circuit, though. He wants to win an overall title, combining results from all disciplines. He’ll have to improve from third and fourth the last two years and knock off three-time reigning champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria.

Miller, 36, became the oldest Olympic Alpine skiing medalist ever with his super-G bronze in Sochi. Next season will likely be his last before retiring.

The 38 nominations did not include two-time Olympian Resi Stiegler, one of the top U.S. technical skiers for the last decade when healthy. Stiegler, 28, was 30th in the World Cup slalom start last standings after last season, five spots shy of the top 25 spot necessary to be renamed to the U.S. A team given her age.

Stiegler was not given a discretionary selection, but three-time Olympians Steven Nyman and Marco Sullivan did earn discretionary B team spots while being outside of the top 30 in World Cup start list standings, according to Ski Racing Magazine.

“Marco Sullivan, you look at his career and what he’s done for American ski racing and also the year he had last year where he was consistently skiing pretty well, at the same time got unlucky in a couple races, just off the mark,” U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick said, according to Ski Racing. “He’s still top 30 in the world. For sure, he has 100 percent support of the entire group of guys to be named to the team. And Steve Nyman, in a similar situation. He was skiing well early in the season, took a big crash and was a little out of sorts but came back skiing stronger. Both guys, when you look at their historical performances over the years, they’ve built up a credibility that we fully support them being named to the team.”

The 2014-15 U.S. Ski Team will be formally named in the fall.

Top U.S. pairs team splits

Bode Miller 5th in final Bormio downhill training

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For the second straight day, Bode Miller turned in a solid downhill training run in Bormio, Italy, finishing fifth in Saturday’s final tune-up.

Miller, who finished second in the opening training run on Friday, found himself about a half-second behind Canada’s Erik Guay, who had the fastest time of the day at 1:52.81. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt was second, followed by 2013 world champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and David Poisson of France, the 2013 Worlds bronze medalist.

Miller is coming off his best performance in a downhill this season, having placed fifth in Val Gardena a week ago. He was just .15 seconds off landing on the podium at the Saslong classic, which was won by Guay.

Behind Miller, the next highest finisher among Americans were Marco Sullivan in 13th, Travis Ganong in 15th, and Steve Nyman in 21st.

Not surprisingly, skiers amped up the level of aggressiveness in their second trips down the Stelvio, which has also seen tremendous improvements in course conditions a day after a heavy snow storm. Guay’s winning time was nearly a full second faster than the winning time put down by Italy’s Christof Innerhofer on the first training run.

“The top part is a little bit easier than in previous years with the fresh snow, but the middle and bottom sections are typical Bormio – rock hard, pretty icy, bumpy and hard on the legs as usual,” Guay told the FIS. “It still feels better than in the past years to me. Some years I was quite intimidated by it while this year I feel ready for it.

“In the first training run I skied well but was missing a bit of intensity. That is what training runs are for. Today the goal was to be a little more active and tomorrow I want to stick to the same plan, I’ll try not to do too much and ski a clean run top to bottom.”

Guay and Poisson have never landed on the podium in Bormio. Reichelt won the downhill there in 2012 and a super-G on the course in 2008. Svindal’s lone podium there came in 2012 when he finished behind Reichelt and Italy’s Dominik Paris, who is not racing this weekend while nursing an injury. Miller has been solid throughout his career on this slope, winning the downhill in 2007. He has also finished fourth twice and fifth twice, most recently in 2011 which is the last time he raced there.

“The conditions are getting better, especially the upper part and traverse,” Reichelt told FIS. “I like it here, I like the challenge this slope puts ahead of you. Training was good and I wouldn’t complain about a run like today’s in the race.”

The race is slated for tomorrow beginning at 5:45 am ET.