Whitefish, Mont. March 29, 2001 (AP by Tim Korte)--Looking back, there was a world super-G title for Daron Rahlves and the return of Picabo Street's famous competitive spirit. Looking ahead, there's a busy summer of training.
Then it's on to the Salt Lake Olympics, where U.S. Ski Team president Bill Marolt has challenged his skiers and snowboarders to bring home 10 medals for the organization and its sponsors.
No question, the Americans had a good season. Now the real work comes over the next 11 months.
``We've developed a sense of momentum and we hope to carry that over to the beginning of next season,'' Marolt said.
Everything through next February is tailored to a peak performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics, from the offseason workouts and camps to the opening months on the World Cup circuit.
``It's about preparing the slopes, training under tough conditions and trying to duplicate the conditions we'll have at the Olympics, the contour of the terrain and so forth,'' said U.S. women's coach Marjan Cernigoj.
For Rahlves, the first order of business is getting away from business. He plans to visit Alaska and Mexico, then get some rides on his Harley Davidson back home near Lake Tahoe, Calif.
``I can't get home and sit down,'' Rahlves said. ``I'm used to staying active.''
He deserves the break. His super-G world title was the highlight of the season for the Americans, especially because he beat the powerful Austrians on their home snow at St. Anton.
Erik Schlopy also is taking a vacation. After this week's North American slalom at Deer Valley Resort in Utah, he's heading to Fiji for three weeks of surfing. Then it's right back to offseason workouts.
``I think I need to be very calculating with my training,'' said Schlopy, who won the slalom and shared the super-G title at the U.S. Alpine nationals. ``Not only do I need to train hard, I also need to rest hard to be totally ready.''
Schlopy was another top performer. His second-place giant slalom finish in a World Cup race in Bormio, Italy, in December was the highest finish by a U.S. man in that discipline in 18 years. He also took second at the World Cup finals.
Street can't wait to get back into competition.
This was her first season racing again since she crashed shortly after winning the super-G gold at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. She looks strong and spirited again after a Super Series downhill win this month on the Olympic course at Snowbasin.
``It's great to finish the season as far ahead of schedule as I am, but I'm extremely hungry,'' she said after placing second in the national downhill. ``I'm probably the only person who's sad that this was our last downhill.''
The Americans also got a breakthrough women's World Cup downhill victory by Kirsten Clark.
But after a week of hearing the U.S. skiers reflect on last season and outline goals for the summer, one theme is persistent. Despite the highlights, they weren't satisfied, on the whole, with their World Cup results.
The challenge for next year is to deliver on those World Cup goals. And of course, they'll aim for top form during the first Winter Olympics on home soil in 22 years, hoping to shine and not shrink in Salt Lake.
``Because we're at home, there will be tremendous interest,'' Marolt said. ``We know that. The American way is to win, to be successful. There will be that element there and we want that success.''
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press