Ted Ligety, left, and Germany's Felix Neureuther after crashing out in Run 2 of the slalom // photo Getty Images

Ted Ligety, left, and Germany's Felix Neureuther after crashing out in Run 2 of the slalom // photo Getty Images

Skiing

U.S. alpine: five is plenty fine

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — There were a couple hours Saturday evening when it seemed possible the U.S. alpine ski team — already with a performance here at the Sochi 2014 Olympics that history will judge as fine, indeed— might, just might, sneak away with what would amount to a bonus medal.

After Run 1 of the men’s slalom, Ted Ligety, winner three days ago of the giant slalom, had put himself in position for a medal. He was only 11-hundredths back of third.

Women's slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

Women's slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

Skiing

Shiffrin’s ‘sure as heck’ gold

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The first Olympics he went to, in his very first race, 15-year-old Michael Phelps took fifth place. He got right back in the pool and, soon enough, he set his first world record. In his next Olympic race — which, because of the calendar, had to wait four years — he won gold.

In her first Olympic race, the women’s giant slalom here Tuesday, 18-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin took fifth. She said, “I think this is supposed to happen,” adding, “The next Olympics I go to, I sure as heck am not getting fifth.”

Ted Ligety in victory after the giant slalom // photo Getty Images

Ted Ligety in victory after the giant slalom // photo Getty Images

Skiing

Ted Ligety’s ‘awesome’ GS gold

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — A couple years ago, they made a rules change in the giant slalom. Citing the interest of athlete safety, they made the skiers change to longer, straighter skis.

Those skis are way harder to turn. Ted Ligety, the American who had ruled the giant slalom, complained bitterly.

TIger_Shaw_TrusteeHeadshot-M

Skiing

Bill Marolt pivots to Tiger Shaw

When Bill Marolt took over 17 years ago as president and chief executive officer of what is now called the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assn., he proclaimed its goal was to be the “best in the world.”

For sure, the United States had produced great skiers: Andrea Mead-Lawrence, Billy Kidd, the Mahre brothers, generations of the Cochran family, Bill Johnson, Tommy Moe, Picabo Street, the cross-country racer Billy Koch. Absolutely, unequivocally, the American union was blessed with mountains east and west, even north in Alaska.

Mikaela Shiffrin joins in at the closing ceremony of the 2013 world championships // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

Mikaela Shiffrin joins in at the closing ceremony of the 2013 world championships // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

Uncategorized

U.S. Ski Team: on its game

There once was a time when the Europeans scoffed at the U.S. Ski Team.

The Americans have the icy low hills back east and the amazing Rocky Mountains, Sierras and Cascades out west, and yet every winter the Americans would roll into the World Cup tour and maybe there would be the occasional breakthrough — Phil and Steve Mahre in the 1980s, for instance — but not the sort of consistent, across-the-board dimension that would make the Euros, the Austrians in particular, snap to and say, whoa, the Americans are so for real.