Vonn, Schleper want better results at Winternational

By Real Aspen
Real AspenNovember 26, 2010
Vail’s Lindsey Vonn and Sarah Schleper will both be looking for their first career podiums on U.S. snow when they stand in the starting gates for the Aspen Winternational World Cup ski races Saturday and Sunday on Aspen Mountain.

American racers have never had a great deal of success in Aspen, and Vonn, a Ski and Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) product who’s the defending three-time World Cup champion, doesn’t particularly excel at the technical events of GS and slalom.
Lindsey Vonn



Vonn has never won a World Cup GS and has just two slalom victories among her American record 33 World Cup wins, both during the 2008 season. The gold and bronze medalist (in the speed events of downhill and super-G respectively) from this year’s Vancouver Winter Olympics, Vonn is coming off a sixth-place finish in slalom at Levi, Finland, two weeks ago.

“I feel like we had great preparation leading up to Levi,” said Vonn, referring to early season training on Vail’s Golden Peak race hill. A big bobble on her second run in Levi cost Vonn a possible podium in a race she won two years ago. “Besides that mistake, I had a great second run in Levi, so I’m really looking forward to Aspen and the next technical races to hopefully get some good points.”

The giant slalom is set for Saturday on Aspen’s Strawpile run, and the slalom is scheduled for Sunday on the same run.

Vonn has just missed the podium three times in Aspen, finishing fourth in a downhill in 2007 and fourth in both a GS and a slalom in 2008. Last season she registered a DNF and DQ in two Aspen races. But this season she’s feeling good about her chances in the only women’s World Cup in the United States.

“It's always special to race in Aspen,” Vonn said. “I know all my friends from Vail will be over to see the best skiers in the world go head-to-head on Colorado snow. My two aunts are coming out from Wisconsin and they haven't seen me ski since I was 12. Plus my great aunt and uncle will be there along with [Vonn’s husband] Thomas' parents, my friends and the entire Vonntourage. We don't get that kind of support anywhere else.”

Schleper, another Ski and Snowboard Club Vail product and a technical event specialist, has never cracked the top 10 in Aspen, where her best ever result was an 11th in slalom in 2004. That was the same season she won her only World Cup race, a slalom in Switzerland in 2005.

Austria’s Marlies Schild will be among the favorites in Aspen after winning the Levi slalom. She beat out Germany’s Maria Riesch in the second run, reversing the results from the Olympic slalom, when Riesch won gold and Schild took silver.

Riesch, who took fifth in the World Cup opening GS in Soelden, Austria, in October, leads the overall World Cup standings after finishing second to Vonn the last two seasons. Vonn told the Denver Post she’s feeling pressure from her good friend Riesch in the chase for her fourth straight overall Cup title, which would break a tie for the American record of three straight that Vonn shares with all-time great Phil Mahre.

In that opening GS in Soelden, 2006 Olympic GS gold medalist Julia Mancuso was the top American in 12th; Vonn was 18th; and Schleper tied for 19th. Mancuso said she’s primed for Aspen. She opted to stay in Colorado in order to capitalize on the excellent training conditions.

“I feel like things are coming together really well for Aspen,” Mancuso said. “I felt confident in my skiing after the Soelden opener and I've just continued to feel really good on my skis throughout this entire training period."

American technical specialist Resi Stiegler will participate in her first World Cup race in over a year in Aspen, and only her fourth start since late December of 2007, when she fractured her left arm and tore ligaments in her right knee while competing in Austria.

Her return was hampered further when she broke her right leg in late summer of 2008 forcing her to skip all of the 2009 season except the World Championships, where she finished an incredible 19th in slalom.

After starting the first two World Cup's last winter, Stiegler was knocked out yet again with a fractured left tibia and fibia while training for Aspen just down the road in Copper Mountain. She has been running full-length courses since early November and was back in the race start gate to forerun the FIS slalom at Copper on Nov. 19.

“It felt awesome,” Stiegler said. “I was able to put down two good runs, but I did it at Copper, almost a year to the day from the crash that ended my 2010 Olympic season. I'm still [putting] things in perspective though. It's still going to be a while before I'm back to where I was two seasons ago, but I'm being smart and patient with the process.”

Thanks to the support of Mother Nature and the Aspen race crew, Stiegler and the U.S. Ski Team were able to take a number of laps on the Aspen race hill last Friday and Saturday. Technical Head Coach Trevor Wagner reported the conditions as “incredible” and is looking forward to seeing what his Team can do on the hill this weekend.

“It's not an easy hill by any means,” he said. “It’s always pulling you in one direction or another, so the more you are on the course, the more you learn to master the tricky sections. To get on the podium here, you have to risk everything and have the confidence to do it.”

2010 Aspen Winternational Schedule

Friday, Nov. 26
10 a.m.-4 p.m. - Sponsor Village Open – Gondola Plaza
6 -9 p.m. - Dine Around – Downtown Aspen Participating Restaurants
7 p.m. - Sneak Preview - Legend of AAHHH’s, a Film by Greg Stump – Wheeler Opera House - Cost $10 Tickets available at the Wheeler

Saturday, Nov. 27
8 a.m.-4 p.m. Free Public Shuttles – Run every 20 minutes from Rubey Park – St. Regis - Venue
10 a.m.-4 p.m. - Sponsor Village Open – Gondola Plaza
10 a.m. - RACE START: Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 - Strawpile
11 a.m. - Taste of Winternational featuring complimentary food tastings and beverages from Cloud 9, ASC Catering, Cliffhouse, Ullrhof, Sam’s Smokehouse, Bumps and the Lynn Britt Cabin – Finish Area
11:30 a.m.- Live Music - Double Diamond Band & Prize Giveaways – Finish Area
1:00 p.m. - RACE START: Women’s Giant Slalom Final – Strawpile
3:30-4:30 p.m. - U.S. Ski Team Autograph Signing - Gondola Plaza
3:30 and 4 p.m. - Guided Public Tours of Wax Room - Mountain Chalet Garage Entrance
6-9 p.m. - Dine Around – Downtown Aspen Participating Restaurants
6:30-8 p.m. - Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series featuring Blind Melon - Upper Gondola Plaza
8-8:15 p.m. - Awards Ceremony for Giant Slalom Winners and Presentation of Bingham Cup – Concert Stage
8:15 p.m. - Fireworks Extravaganza - Little Nell

Sunday, Nov. 28
8 a.m.-4 p.m. Free Public Shuttles – Run every 20 minutes from Rubey Park – St. Regis - Venue
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sponsor Village Open – Gondola Plaza
10:00 a.m. - RACE START: Women’s Slalom Run 1 - Strawpile
11 a.m. - Taste of Winternational featuring complimentary food tastings and beverages from Cloud 9, ASC Catering, Cliffhouse, Ullrhof, Sam’s Smokehouse, Bumps and the Lynn Britt Cabin – Finish Area
11:30 a.m. - Live Music - Double Diamond Band & Prize Giveaways – Finish Area
1:00 p.m. - RACE START: Women’s Slalom Final – Strawpile
6 -9 p.m. - Dine Around – Downtown Aspen Participating Restaurants
A complete Visa Aspen Winternational schedule is available at www.aspensnowmass.com.


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