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US Ski Team named in Vail

Vail Daily/Dominique Taylor

Vonn skips Thursday’s team intro

By John LaConte

VAil Daily News

VAIL – The U.S. Ski Team alpine racers kicked off their season Thursday the right way: With hundreds of cheering fans.

A large crowd gathered at Arrabelle Square in Lionshead to hear the announcement of the ski team’s alpine A, B, C and the development teams, a group of about 40 of the fastest skiers in America including Bode Miller, Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin and Andrew Weibrecht.

Lindsey Vonn did not attend the ceremony though she was released from the hospital Wednesday. Details of her illness remain unclear and there is no indication of when she will return to skiing. Vonn’s publicist, Lewis Kay, recently said the four-time overall World Cup champion and Olympic downhill gold medalist was “awaiting results from diagnostic testing for severe intestinal pain.”

Before her illness, Vonn was set to be among the skiers showing up for the festivities in Vail, where she lives.

Without her, the concert-like atmosphere saw young fans arriving early in order to get closer to the stage, then politely waiting through several videos and speeches for the ski team’s arrival and their chance to get photos and autographs with the athletes. Their patience was rewarded with frequent swag giveaways.

“They don’t want to hear from me,” Vail Mayor Andy Daily said after a quick speech, saying he was deliberately trying to make it short and sweet in order to let the fans at the ski team. And while his speech was less than a minute, he cut to the heart of the celebration with a salute to ski racing in Vail.

“Vail has hosted more World Cup events than any other venue in the Western Hemisphere, Vail is racing, Vail is skiing!” he shouted.

United States Ski and Snowboard Association president Bill Marolt also spoke fondly of ski racing’s history in Vail.

“The thing I think that is really cool about Vail, and the reason it has such tremendous racing heritage and history is because of the guys that founded it,” said Marolt. “Peter Seibert, Morrie Shepard and all those guys that came here in the early days and believed in ski racing and believed that ski racing could make a difference in a resort. And it’s clear to me that it has with what we have here, from the past 50 years and ultimately what’s gonna happen in 2015.”

Zoe Livran asked Bode Miller to share something nobody knew about him, to which Miller replied with a story of how he was married.

“Our only witness was a cat, and that’s our family right now,” said Miller. “So I’m a cat person, I don’t know if anybody knows that. I’m a dog person too, but mostly a cat person.”

The crowd went wild.

Other interesting pieces of information that were revealed throughout the evening included the fact that Mikaela Shiffrin still doesn’t have her driver’s licence, and Robby Kelley enjoys naked bungee jumping.

The U.S Ski Team continues its training at Copper Mountain and Vail’s Golden Peak Competition Center this week. Next week, the women head to Aspen while the men head to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, for World Cup action.