(Reuters) - Former Olympic champion Bode Miller will have a chance to prolong his career after being included among 26 skiers in a strong United States team for the Feb. 2-15 world championships at Beaver Creek and Vail in Colorado.
Miller, who has not raced this season because of lingering back problems, was named along with world champions Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin in a squad announced by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) on Wednesday.
“We’re proud to bring a strong group of athletes to the world championships in our team’s home country,” USSA Alpine director Patrick Riml said in a statement.
“Vail/Beaver Creek will put on a great show for the world and we expect our athletes to be competitive for medals.”
Miller, overall World Cup champion in 2005 and 2008, is aiming to make a competitive comeback in the world championships after skiing only as a forerunner at World Cup events this month in Wengen and Kitzbuehel.
Now aged 37, he is well aware that Beaver Creek could be his last major event.
“I’m trying to prepare,” Miller said after deciding not to start the downhill in Wengen on Jan. 16. “You’ve got to work with what you’ve got. I’m not healthy enough to race.”
Miller, one of the most popular and successful alpine skiers of all time, has won world championships titles in four different disciplines — the giant slalom, super-G, downhill and combined.
Speed queen Vonn will command much of the attention at Beaver Creek where the 30-year-old will be a red-hot favorite after establishing herself as the most successful woman skier of all time.
Earlier this month, Vonn won a Super-G on the Cortina D’Ampezzo slopes to move past Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell with a record 63rd World Cup victory before adding a 64th in St Moritz on Sunday, again in the Super-G.
World and Olympic champion Shiffrin, aged just 19, will also be expected to flourish at the world championships after winning three times in her last 10 World Cup races, including two in a row in her strongest discipline, the slalom.
Ligety, 30, will spearhead the U.S. men at Beaver Creek where he will bid to replicate the form that earned him the combined, giant slalom and Super-G at the 2013 world championships in Schladming.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Scottsdale, Arizona; Editing by Gene Cherry