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ARE, Sweden (AP) — It was a telling sign that in Lindsey Vonn’s last race there was only one other American skier competing.
Two days later, the U.S. couldn’t even enter a squad for the team event at the world championships because it didn’t have enough skiers available.
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And as for the men’s slalom team, the one that produced the likes of Bode Miller and Ted Ligety? Well, that’s been practically eliminated.
“We are dwindling,” Vonn said. “I can’t remember a time being on the U.S. Ski Team that there weren’t two or three people that could have taken the four spots (in each race). We always had a full quota.”
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With Vonn’s retirement following that of Miller and Julia Mancuso in recent years, and with Ligety nearing the end of his career, it marks the end of a golden generation for the U.S. team.
Vonn, Miller, Mancuso and Ligety won a combined 40 medals at major championships — 15 at the Olympics and 25 at the worlds — stretching back to 2002.
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“We had a solid group of people that were consistently winning or getting on the podium, making world championship and Olympic medals,” Vonn said. “And now we’re gone.”
The only U.S. skier who has won a race this season is Mikaela Shiffrin, who is breaking record after record and is on course for a third straight overall World Cup title.
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“That will kind of make us look like we’re a top nation but we don’t have as much depth behind her as we would like to have,” said Tiger Shaw, the president of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “So that’s our mission now.”
Three years ago, the U.S. federation undertook a deep-dive, “Moneyball”-type analysis to study all of the world’s top ski teams. The idea behind “Project 2026,” aimed for a revival by the 2026 Olympics, was...
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