Late golds give U.S. ideal boost at worlds
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - After a surprisingly slow start to the alpine ski world championships, the United States finished with a flurry of two gold medals to captivate their home fans and inspire skiers of the future.
While snow queen Lindsey Vonn ended a disappointing fortnight with a solitary bronze medal, Olympic champion Ted Ligety won his third successive giant slalom crown and rising star Mikaela Shiffrin successfully defended her slalom title.
That gave the Americans a medal haul of five, capping two weeks of thrills and spills on the slopes of Beaver Creek and Veil that brought the sport of alpine skiing to a much wider audience in the United States.
"It's been absolutely amazing... to be able to show Americans what this sport is about," U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association president Tiger Shaw told reporters as the world championships wound down.
"The penetration and exposure that a lot of people got through TV, it captures their interest in our sport. And very important to us, all the people that participate in skiing in the U.S. have been able to really see what's happening here.
"They've had a real inside track and been able to get to know our athletes much better and see incredible things happen on the hill, especially with Mikaela doing so well and Ted winning."
The worlds, back on U.S. snow for the first time since 1999, provided a much needed boost for the sport and the North American ski industry, which have seen younger generations gravitate to snowboarding and extreme skiing.
Television viewership worldwide is expected to exceed 800 million over the fortnight with record ratings for ski racing in the United States. Continued...