The Park record Editorial, March 21-23, 2012 | ParkRecord.com

The Park record Editorial, March 21-23, 2012

Success of U.S. winter athletes has us hankering for Sochi

While Parkites were reliving the old glory days of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the athletes of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association were doing no such thing. They were too busy adding new hardware to the team’s trophy case.

The 2011-2012 season has been one for the record books for the home team. According to the U.S. Ski Team (USST), the World Cup season that is just wrapping up has been one of the most successful in the organization’s history.

At the head of the pack is alpine all-star Lindsey Vonn, who is rapidly becoming a household name, even among non-skiers. Vonn grabbed her fourth overall title infive years and almost toppled the legendary Hermann Maier’s season points record.

In the meantime, also on the distaff side, moguls champ Hannah Kearney ran a string of 16 straight wins and ended the freestyle season with a crystal and Kelly Clark amassed an impressive list of 16 World Cup snowboarding wins and earned a pair of XGames crowns in the halfpipe.

On the men’s side, Chas Gulemond took a world title in the slopestyle snowboarding championships and U. S. racers dominated the snowboard halfpipe competitions at the European XGames.

There were unprecedented Nordic victories too.

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Home-grown cross-country racer Kikkan Randall finally gave the U.S. its first World Cup cross country title in three decades and Park City’s own Nordic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson also swooped in for a World Cup title. As if that wasn’t enough, local Bryan Fletcher won the Nordic Combined prestigious King’s Cup.

In addition to the gold medals and first-place titles, the team showed its depth with consistent top-ten finishes by standouts Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety and Bode Miller.

There were other victories too throughout the season and it is a testament to the whole USST organization that so many ski and snowboard racers in so many disciplines are enjoying success. We’d like to think it that it also has something to do with the USSA’s Center for Excellence, located right here in Park City, and steady support from the community.

With the 2014 Sochi Olympics only a couple of years off and a hint that Utah may bid on hosting the Olympics once again, it is particularly gratifying to see the team reaching such dizzying heights.