Park City, UT, August 10--While Olympic champion Picabo Street (Park City, UT) is scheduled to begin her gradual return to international racing, Kristina Koznick (Burnsville, MN), Katie Monahan (Aspen, CO), and Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) plus three other veterans will lead a 42-member U.S. Alpine Ski Team for the 1999-2000 season, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said Saturday.
The 42-member team is evenly split with 21 men, 21 women. Street - the senior member of the women's team in her 12th season - is joined on the Women's A Team by Koznick, who won her second World Cup slalom last season; Monahan, who enjoyed the best season of her career during this past winter and Megan Gerety (Anchorage, AK), who rebounded nicely from leg problems. The Men's A Team is comprised of Fleischer (Vail, CO), who posted the then-best result of his career by finishing sixth in super G at the '99 World Championships and then bested that when he was second in SG at World Cup Finals in Sierra Nevada, Spain; Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), who had a pair of fourth-place finishes for his best international results; and Daron Rahlves (Truckee, CA), one of the best super G racers on tour.
"We've got several key athletes coming off the best season of their career, which is great because they - and everyone else - can see what hard work produces. Really, it's thrilling to see such positive results," said USSA Vice President of Athletics Alan Ashley. "Chad and Katie and Koz, and some of the others know what has to be done, and they're absolutely doing it. They're on the right path.
"But we're also just 33 months away from the 2002 Olympics. All you have to do is look at how our World Championships results were in February to see how critical it is that we have a sense of urgency and continue to pickup the pace at which people achieve success. If we're going to get medals in '02 - and we are going to contend for and get medals in '02," Ashley said, "we have to make sure that every day makes a difference. The coaches and athletes both clearly understand this."
Fleischer previously had been known as a downhiller, and he won the U.S. downhill title at season's end on the 2002 Olympic DH course at Utah's Snowbasin Ski Area, but he also emerged as a contending SG skier last winter. Miller, in his second year of World Cup racing, showed a flare which has come to mark his style with a top-10 in SL at World Championships and four World Cup top-10s, including two fourths in slalom. Rahlves, nicked by injuries, remains one of the top World Cup super G skiers and a promising downhill racer.
Koznick collected the second World Cup slalom win of her career last season and finished the season sixth in the World Cup points. Monahan started the season by posting her first World Cup top-20 and, by the end of the winter, had her first World Cup podium (third in a super G at St. Moritz) plus two more national titles (SG, combined). Gerety, returning after leg injuries bothered her for two seasons, had one of her best seasons, including eighth in downhill at the World Championships and another top-10 in a World Cup SG.
Among other members of the Ski Team for the coming season are a handful of recent World Junior Championships medalists - '99 combined gold medalist Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO); Jonna Mendes (Heavenly, CA), who's taken the downhill silver medal in each of the last two World Junior Championships; '97 slalom silver medalist Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO); '99 downhill bronze medalist Alison Powers (Fraser, CO) and '98 DH bronze medal-winner Scott Macartney (Redmond, WA). Powers is the reigning Nor Am women's overall and super G champion while Macartney won the '99 Nor Am SG title. In addition, Megan Ganong (Olympic Valley, CA) took the women's '99 Nor Am DH crown with Powers runnerup.
Street, the two-time World Cup downhill champion and '98 Olympic super G gold medalist who's been off skis since a Friday the 13th crash during World Cup Finals in Bormio, Italy in March 1998, took off for the '99 season while recuperating from knee and thigh surgeries. Her game plan, with an eye toward the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, calls for gradually getting back on skis during the coming season, returning to racing in '01 and being at full speed in '02.
"Picabo's coming back at Picabo's pace. Nobody knows her body like she does, and she's setting the timetable for coming back when she's healthy," Ashley said. "We miss her leadership and her energy, but she'll be back when she decides she's ready. She knows it's totally her call."
The U.S. Alpine Ski Team is one of eight national teams to be named this spring by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, the national governing body for Olympic skiing and snowboarding.