USA: Next Generation
Picabo Street's Gold
Tommy Moe Interview
'98 Winter Olympics
US Ski Team: The Next Generation
Special '98-'99 Season Preview
Man-o-man-o-schevitz! The action was wild and woolly last season on the White Circus.
Wham-Bam-Thank-you-Ma’am Picabo made a stunning comeback won Olympic Gold and then broke her leg at the World Cup finals.
"The Herminator" Hermann Maier blows everybody away on the World Cup almost blows himself away in the Nagano downhill, but Herman AND the Austrians end up winning everything anyway.
Kristina "The Koz" Koznick: This tough Minnesota gal boosted American hearts by slammin’ her way to second overall in World Cup Slalom. This, after years of injury and disappointment.
Katja "The Ice Queen" Seizinger: This German proved again that she is the best of the best, winning Olympic Gold and three World Cup titles.
All this and El Niño...Hell, more Yanks don’t answer the bell...skiing is swell and this poetry stinks.
YANKS YOUTH MOVEMENT
The affable but hard luck Moe torched his knee at the end of the 1995-'96 season and never really returned to form. And in early 1997 he sliced his hand open on a broken beer bottle in Kitzbuehl another recovery. Last season he looked for another Olympic miracle in Nagano but it was not to be.
AJ Kitt grew up on the hard snow of the Adirondacks near his hometown of Rochester, NY. He won early and often as he ascended to the World Cup level: multiple National downhill titles and a huge World Cup downhill win in Val d’Isere in 1991. He also won the downhill bronze in the 1993 Worlds but had a horrible run of bad lucks as four other apparent victories were taken away due to weather problems two of them (1993 and 1995) were in Aspen.
With five other World Cup top-3s in his career and a third in the 1992 World Cup downhill standings, Kitt zippered his knee in 1996 and called it a career this past Spring.
The third "amigo" on the downhill team to call it a career is "cowboy" Kyle Rasmussen of Angel’s Camp, CA. Kyle, who won two World Cup races in '95, retired after 13 seasons of international ski racing. Rasmussen suffered torn knee ligaments in 1997, but he returned a year ago to race in his third Olympics. Ultimately though, "It's just that I've wanted to get on with my life," he said. Rasmussen said he was looking forward to spending more time with his growing family. He and wife Linda have two children. He plans to work with California's Bear Valley Ski Area, which was founded by his grandfather.
Twenty-seven-year-old California kid Matt Grosjean finally got on track in the 1996-'97 season in his specialty, slalom. After years of disappointment, Grosjean reeled off several top-10 finishes and took fourth in both the Kranskja Gora slalom and the Wengen combined. He won three U.S. titles, but has decided to go the "real job" route.
A World Cup rookie (2nd go-round) at 27, Julie Parisien is now a tried and true veteran. The Auburn, Maine, native has been here before. After taking the slalom silver at the 1993 World Championships, winning three World Cup slalom races and being ranked Numero Uno, Parisien quit. She went pro and won three straight slalom titles, but with the fame and fortune still on the World Cup, she came back last season, starting at the back of the pack to qualify for World Cup and the Olympics and she did it.
In fact, Julie finished a very respectable 13th in the Olympic slalom and wrapped up her comeback season by winning the U.S. Combined title. But early this fall, Julie took another long look in the mirror and said goodbye to skiing forever.
Heres a look at the best of the bunch:
"I'd have loved to do well in the Olympics, but look at the rest of my season. I'm looking to have another run at the Olympics, but I'm really looking forward to this season," Koznick said.
And she's certainly got the support of Team Coach George Capaul, who said, "she's stellar; a hard worker who doesn't make excuses. She showed last year what she can do when she's healthy, and she'll be more dangerous this year."
So Koz proved she is a force to be reckoned with this season and for many to come. Hey! she’s only 23!
"I've done well there (Vail). I started World Cup racing there and it's done some good things for me. So, when I'm burning-out in the weight room, that's something I think about," Gerety said.
This bodes well considering the Worlds are there next February. But she needs to regain that speed confidence first.
"She wants to win a medal in Vail, and that's understandable, of course. Megan will ski a lot of super G with some downhills in there. She's a hard worker. Physically, she knows what she needs to do," her coach, Jim Tracy, said.
This season Rahlves will be shooting for for overall points as the leader of the men’s squad. Unfrozen water note: Daron turned to ski racing full time after winning the Expert Class world title at the '93 Jet ski World Championships on Lake Havasu, AZ.
Fleischer lost almost 30 pounds after being hobbled last December by salmonella in Europe. He worked with a personal nutritionist and trainer to become what he hopes is the strongest skier on the World Cup.
"These young guys coming along are gunning for me and Daron the way [Craig] Thrasher and I gunned for AJ [Kitt], Tommy [Moe] and Kyle [Rasmussen]. I like their hunger," Chad said.
Yes, we did mention youth movement:
Jonna Mendes has seen the world several times over and she’s still a teenager. The 19-year-old product of South Lake Tahoe had an excellent year at several levels: World Junior downhill champ, NorAm Super-G silver medalist and 17th in the Nagano Olympic downhill. "Breakthrough year" is a fitting term and Mendes has the talent and drive to win World Cups in the near future. Definitely a top-15 contender this season, and with the World’s at Vail, who knows?
Kirsten Clark finished last season as the U.S. downhill champion after a strong year that brought her 12th in World Cup Super-G in Val d'Isere, France. Moved to more speed events after starting as a GS skier, Clark will have to help lead the women’s squad that is missing "superstar-champion-of-everything" Picabo Street. The Sugarloaf, Maine kid should crack to the top-15 in Super-G or downhill.
Katie Monahan had two European FIS-B wins in GS last season and was the Silver medalist in combined at '98 Nationals, but now it's time for the 26-year-old Aspen native to step up. Katie got more World Cup points in Super-G and downhill last season as she gained valuable experience in Europe and this season she is looking to move up in SG this winter (like top 15 move up).
"Katie's ready for a breakthrough. She's a team leader with all that experience and being so competitive," Coach Capaul said.
Jason Rosener: The 23-year-old Breckenridge CO. native is carrying on the U.S. downhill tradition and should move up in the World Cup rankings this season. Rosener surprised in Nagano with a 15th in the downhill and scored Three World Cup downhill top-25s last season. He scored his first World Cup points in the opening downhill of the season, on Beaver Creek's Birds of Prey course which will be the '99 World Championships runs, so that bodes well for a much improved season.
This could be a bell-weather season for slalom specialist Chip Knight of New Canaan, CT. A former World Junior slalom champ, Chip is coming back this season from left knee ligament surgery done last spring. Knight spent the summer in rehab with BMA Conditioning Coach Bill Knowles. He had his best season in '97, earning his first World Cup points and posting four top-25s. The 24-year-old could take over for Grosjean as slalom leader if he has recovered.
Brett Fischer, 21, of Winter Park, CO began skiing at age two and has worked his way through the ranks. In 1996, he copped with three medals (two gold) at the Junior Olympics. A knee injury in '97 slowed him, but Fischer rebounded last winter, even getting a second at the FIS Downhill in Wengen. He can be considered one of the "young guns" in the speed events.
Any way you slice it, the U.S. Ski Team is rebuilding again after a huge retirement party and key injuries. But Kosnick and Rahlves should lead the charge to Vail for the Worlds, and who knows? Hometown support has always worked in the past.
Eric Moffit, Mountain Zone Correspondent
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