GeneralNewsTeam 13: USA

Avatar Kieran JonesNovember 6, 2011

United States of America

2009-2010 Nations Cup Ranking: 15th (803 pts)

2010-2011 Nations Cup Ranking: 13th (1291 pts)

Men: 12th (552 pts)

Women: 10th (739 pts)

2011/2012 World Cup Team

Men

Andy Newell

Kris Freeman

Women

Kikkan Randall

Liz Stephen

 

What You May Have Missed Last Season

In the season following a massive wave of discontent amongst some US ski fans following the Olympic disappointment, the men and women of the USST stepped up.

Andy Newell on his way to a season-best fifth place in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo: Kellen MacFadyen)

Veterans Kris Freeman and Kikkan Randall silenced the critics with their high quality of skiing over the full course of the season.

In particular, Freeman banished several of his demons during the best World Cup season of his career, so much so that FasterSkier thinks it’s high time FIS rewarded him with a new profile picture.

While Freeman was strong, Randall was pure dynamite. The exciting Alaskan earned 400 more points than her previous best season on the World Cup, finishing 10th in the race for the crystal globe, and third in the Sprint Cup standings. She even had the Norwegians shaking in their boots before World Championships.

Randall earned four World Cup medals last season, including two gold. One in a skate sprint in Liberec, Czech Republic, the other in a skate sprint in Drammen, Norway, the weekend before World Championships.

It must be said that Andy Newell was a bit of a disappointment, which, seeing as he still turned in over 200 World Cup points, says something about the expectations placed on him. FIS doesn’t keep statistics on falls, but if it was a stat category, Newell would be the leader. He struggled to keep the slippery side down in enough races that even FIS cartoonist Thomas Zipfel made light of it (scroll down to section titled Tour de Ski 2011).

The stable of young talent the US is currently carrying is almost unbelievable. The Oslo 2011 World Championships was a coming-out party of sorts for young US skiers. Liz Stephen, Jessie Diggins, Simi Hamilton, and Noah Hoffman all recorded at least one top 30 finish.

What You Need To Know for This Season

Kikkan Randall battling Maiken Caspersen Falla in the Drammen Sprint.

Randall was damn good last year, but this upcoming season could see the Alaskan take her rightful place among the true elite women in the sport, across both distance and sprint disciplines.

She has quite possibly the scariest set of mini-tour applicable skills on the circuit right now – sprint speed across both disciplines, an expanding arsenal of distance skiing ability, and what seems like an endless supply of guts. Last year was her first crack at the Tour de Ski, this year expect the pink-haired powerhouse to blow by last seasons’ 21st place position in the premiere event of the season.

Additionally, Randall will be able to take advantage of the wave of retirements that hit womens’ skiing last season. Slovenian Petra Majdic and Italian Arianna Follis were the only two sprinters more consistent than Randall last season, finishing first and second in the Sprint Cup standings respectively. FasterSkier is not saying that it’s now a cake-walk, but Randall is in a better position to scoop up those big points than anyone else.

But despite on the optimism on the horizon, the USST is facing a big budget crunch. But those who want to support American skiers still exist, as is evidenced by the Drive for 25.

Who You Should Watch

Jessie Diggins is without a doubt the most dangerous of the strong crop of young American prospects. She finished in the top 30 twice in Oslo, helped the womens 4×10 relay team to ninth place, took home FasterSkier Rookie of the Year honors, and have we mentioned she was still a junior? FasterSkier is getting pumped for the season just thinking about it!

Diggins is also extremely serious about her recovery, and enjoys practicing her bat imitation.

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Kieran Jones

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