December 4, 2005

American men shine on home snow

By Steve Ginsburg

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - With the World Cup
season heading into full swing and the Olympics just on the
horizon, the U.S. men's ski team is peaking at the right time.

Bode Miller, Daron Rahlves and Ted Ligety all landed on the
Beaver Creek World Cup podium at the weekend, showing the world
that the Americans can compete with Alpine skiing's best

"As a U.S. ski team in general, we came here to Beaver
Creek to make a statement," said Rahlves, winner of Friday's

"This place means a lot to me and to the rest of the guys
on the team to as well as we're capable of skiing.
And I think it showed.

"Hopefully, it sends a good message to everybody else and
gets them thinking about the U.S. team a little bit more. That
just gives us more power.

"We're just going to keep going out and doing the same
thing we've done that past couple of races, just keep fighting
and charging," he added.

Rahlves and Miller, the overall World Cup champion,
finished one-two on Friday, while the pair reversed the order
in the giant slalom the following day, with team mate Erik
Schlopy finishing fourth.

Ligety's third place in Sunday's slalom gave the Americans
a spot on the podium in three of the four Beaver Creek

Only in the super-G did they fail to make the top three,
although Rahlves did manage a fifth place.


"Our team has a huge amount of ability compared to where
our results usually are," said Miller. "There's still a big
discrepancy there. We have nine or 10 guys that score on the
World Cup on a regular basis.

"If those guys ski their best, they're going to be in the
top five a lot of the times," he added. "It's always
interesting to see three Americans in the top four in the giant

"It's not going to be that unusual if we start to bridge
that gap. We just have to race where our ability is.

"That's always the challenge but we're getting a lot better
at it."

Ligety's podium was his first in the World Cup and gave
U.S. ski fans a glimpse of the future. Dane Spencer also had a
stand-out run in the giant slalom, finishing 12th.

"This has been a pretty unbelievable weekend," he said. "It
was great to see Daron win and Bode get second and then Bode
win and Daron get second, and then see the other great results
our guys had.

"I'm just so psyched for the whole team. It's great to see
how well we're doing. In years past, the U.S. hasn't really
been respected as an Alpine nation.

"These last couple of races really proved that we've got a
lot of guys that can ski podium finishes and win races."