The U.S. Olympic team grew once again on Jan. 26 as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association revealed the names of the athletes nominated to the alpine skiing team that will compete at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The team features an impressive 13 returning Olympians, including gold medalists Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety and Bode Miller. The now 36-year old Miller made his Olympic debut at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, but didn't achieve gold medal success until winning the super combined event at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
The other Winter Games alums headed to Sochi include Erik Fisher, Tim Jitloff, Nolan Kasper, Steven Nyman, Marco Sullivan, Andrew Weibrecht, Stacey Cook, Megan McJames, Leanne Smith and Resi Stiegler.
The seven first-time Olympians nominated to the team include David Chodounsky, Travis Ganong, Jared Goldberg, Julia Ford, Laurenne Ross, Jacqueline Wiles, and Mikaela Shiffrin. In the absence of long-time U.S. alpine skiing super star Lindsay Vonn, the 18-year old Shiffrin could well become the U.S. star of the Sochi Games.
Women's alpine head coach Alex Hoedlmoser expressed particular confidence in Shiffrin's medal chances, noting the teen's "huge potential, both in the slalom and giant slalom."
Alpine skiing events in Sochi begin Feb. 9 with the men's downhill competition.