World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin dominated last year's Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom in Levi with a 1.06 wire-to-wire victory. Here she is posing with her reindeer Rudolf, whom she won last year. (Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Stringer)
LEVI, Finland (Nov. 13) – Ask any U.S. Ski Team member about these Lapland slalom races north of the Arctic Circle, and you’ll hear that there’s something magical about Levi, Finland. The town is blanketed with snow and Christmas is already in the air. World Cup champions Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety are among 11 U.S. athletes heading to the winter wonderland for the Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom races set for this Saturday and Sunday hoping to make magic happen. Shiffrin is fresh off her first ever World Cup GS win at the World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria. Additional U.S. starters are Will Brandenburg, Nolan Kasper, David Chodounsky, Will Gregorak, Tim Kelley, Michael Ankeny, Paula Moltzan, Resi Stiegler and Hailey Duke. The 2014 U.S. Alpine Ski Team was named Nov. 8 during Nature Valley First Tracks at Copper Mountain, CO.
Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) and Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, CO) highlight U.S. Ski Team slalom starters for the Nov. 15-16 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup races in Levi, Finland.
Looking to defend: World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin won the Audi FIS Ski World Cup opening slalom last year by 1.06 seconds, also snagging herself a Lapland reindeer she named Rudolf, as a first place prize.
Big U.S. Field: Will Brandenburg (Spokane, WA), Nolan Kasper (Warren, VT), David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO), Will Gregorak (Longmont, CO), Tim Kelley (Starksboro, VT), Michael Ankeny (Deephaven, MN), Paula Moltzan (Lakeville, MN), Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY) and Hailey Duke (Boise, ID) will also start for the U.S.
Colorado Training: The team prepared for the event with training at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
The 2015 U.S. Alpine Ski Team was announced Nov. 8 during Nature Valley First Tracks, a live fan focused stage program at Copper Mountain, CO.
QUOTES Roland Pfeifer We had a very good prep period over in Copper Mountain. The girls are healthy, they're fit, they're motivated. In the case of Mikaela we all expect a pretty good race, which means she's really shooting for winning slalom. With the other girls, the goal is to make the flip and improve the way to be into the top.
Mikaela Shiffrin Levi is looking awesome. The hill is in great shape. I think they've worked really hard to make sure it's really good, and it's cold so the hill should stay in awesome shape over night. We got to free ski on it today, and I'm feeling quick. Last year I was pretty tired for the free ski on the hill, but today I felt really quick and strong, so even after kind of a long travel day I feel like I'm ready to race. We got some training in; the training hill was in really good condition, and I just got a really good feeling. So I feel like I'm ready to go tomorrow.
I think a lot of the girls are skiing fast, so I have no idea who's going to be fast tomorrow, but there are a few girls who we saw today who looked like they were going to rip, so it's same as always - same goal - I have to go really hard start to finish, top flats skate as hard as I can, and bottom pitch I have to make sure I keep it under control but still let it fly. I'm looking forward to it.
Ted Ligety Levi is always a unique race, for sure, it's dark most of the day so it definitely feels like a night race even thought it's in the middle of the day. So it's always unique and they always do a pretty good job with the hill conditions so it's a fun hill. It's cool to be able to race on the same hill as the girls. It's kind of like Soelden in the sense that there's a little bit more nervousness to it because it's the first race of the year and you're not really sure how you're skiing, but it's always exciting.