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USA: 2024 Pre-Season notes

American bison (Bison bison)

IMO, more than any other nation, USA WAWC 2024 team success will be determined by a few key B squad racers.

Shiffrin, Johnson, and Moltzan—each operating on her own distinct level of competitive skill/potential/expectation—have their campaigns pretty well mapped out: it’s down to execution. Isabella Wright is a major DH talent whose potential should bloom into EOS T10/12 by 2025, when her prime years begin. (Bella turns 27 this coming February.) Nina O’Brien…oh man. I included her in a pending Feature post on comeback years , even though she raced last season. I can’t fathom how she managed that after the awful Beijing injury. Speculation on my part, but an additional few months of rest/healing would have suited her left leg for WAWC's demands.

Each season, several full-time EC runners from B and C teams get a few WAWC starts to show their stuff. For the Americans’ 2024 season, all five B team members are worthy of WC starts. (Katie Hensien, the 6th B teamer, is OFS with June training left knee ACL/MCL joy. Major bummer. So too Ava Sunshine’s right ACL tear in September training delays a young major talent’s ascension. Search Ava’s 2019-2023 Nor-Am record on Outstanding for someone who will turn 22 next June.) Alice Merryweather will appear soon in a Feature on racers returning from major injury. She’s a gem, who’s endured more than average mortals could bear. Jackie Wiles, a game vet who’s suffered leg injuries/bad luck, should be on our radar. I’ll also write up AJ Hurt as the season develops. She’s an intriguing young ‘un, Tech focus; 22 all season.

As for the front-liners: See Breezy’s June Feature profile, and Paula in August’s “Tech 2024 Pre-Season -- Three In Their Prime.”

Mikaela Shiffrin

Arguably the world’s best and most dominant professional athlete, Mikaela Shiffrin will win the women’s Overall for as long as she wants. Slalom and Giant Slalom season titles are practically guaranteed. She hit WAWC the way Tiger Woods hit the PGA: a transcendent talent who attentive fans knew for years ahead was going to make it big. (Woods appeared on the Mike Douglas Show when he was two. Shiffrin was huge on international ski racing’s radar by fourteen or so.) If Mikaela runs full 4-Discipline schedules for the next few seasons, and her Downhill strengthens to match her Super-G skill—she won the SG title in 2019—she’ll score 2500+ points. Shiffrin hasn’t had surgery for a skiing injury. IFAIK occasional lower back pain, and a mildly tweaked knee a few years ago are her only sports-related physical problems.

Last three WAWC seasons.

2023 Overall 1st

SL 1st – 11 starts – 6x1st; 3x2nd; 3d; 5th.

GS 1st – 10 starts – 7x1st; 2x6th; 13th.

SG 7th – 5 starts – 1st; 4th; 2x7th; 14th.

DH 12th – 5 starts – 2x4th; 3xT7.

2022 Overall 1st

SL 2nd – 8 starts – 2x1st; 3x2nd; 8th; 9th; DNF.

GS 3d – 8 starts – 2x1st; 2nd; 3d; 4xT7

SG 3d – 7 starts – 2x2nd; 2x3d; 2xT6; 16th.

DH 26th – 3 starts – 1st; 26th; 38th.

2021 Overall 4th No Speed starts this season.

SL 2nd– 9 starts – 2x1st; 3x2nd; 2x3d; 2xT5.

GS 2nd– 7 starts – 1st; 2nd; 3d; 2x4th; 2x6th.

World Championships. 5 meets – 2013 to 2023. Superlative.

SL – 6 starts – 4x1st; 2nd; 3d.

GS – 6 starts – 1st; 2x2nd; 3d; 6th; 8th.

SG – 3 starts – 1st; 2nd; 3d.

It’s heretical, but IMO WAWC will be more dramatic/unpredictably fun after Her Highness retires. Until then, it’s a privilege to watch someone so exceptionally talented, and with such an appealing personality, at peak ability. If Shiffrin wins a DH globe competing against WAWC’s current exceptional Speed roster, she’ll create a new dimension in WAWC excellence. If she wins all four Disciplines in one season, the Earth may abandon its orbit and join Her Highness in whichever galaxy she inhabits.

At the least, Mikaela will compete through the 2026 season. If she decides to stick it until, say, she’s thirty-five (through 2030) or suffers a significant injury and jumps ship, then we’re looking at career 150+ victories and a dozen+ Overall titles. I can’t count high enough for Discipline globes.

2024’s major variable is MS’s 4-Discipline commitment level. I’ll figure she’s going whole-hog: intending 45 starts—11xSL,GS,SG; 12xDH. Anticipating a handful of races skipped for physical/mental recalibration, I’ll still call EOS Overall 1st; SL&GS 1st; SG T5; DH T8/10.

Isabella Wright

Turning 27 in February 2024, Bella Wright has overcome injuries (ACL early; gallstone and ankle in autumn and Dec. 2021) and is poised to begin her prime years with high expectations—from herself and from the American ski team. 42 WAWC Speed starts in the 2020-2023 seasons were complemented with approximately 40 FIS Speed races and about 50 Nor-Am Speed starts, several of which were run during the WAWC campaigns. Wright has a solid foundation upon which to continue her WC construction. On the high-profile Atomic team, surely this season she’s expected to achieve her first WAWC podium, and certainly a few more T10s.

WAWC 2021-2023 Speed results

2023 DH 17th – 9 starts – 7th; 4xT15; 2xT20; 2xDNF. SG 41st – 7 starts – 19th; 24th; 28th; 4xDNF.

2022 DH 33d – 4 starts – 10th; 2xT30; 34th. SG 52nd – 4 starts – 28th; 3xDNF. Broken ankle Dec. 2021.

2021 DH 30th – 7 starts – 14th; 20th; 25th; 27th; 2xT35; DNF. SG 41st – 6 starts – 24th; 3xT30; 33d; DNF.

Nor-Am 2019-2020; 2022 Speed results. No Nor-Am starts 2021.

2022 DH 4th – 2 starts – 2x1st. No SG starts.

2020 DH 4th – 2 starts – 2x3d. SG 1st – 4 starts – 1st; 2x2nd; 4th.

2019 DH 3d – 4 starts – 2nd; 5th; 6th; 7th. SG 5th – 5 starts – 2nd; 3d; 6th; 2xDNF.

Pretty thin WAWC gruel, though 2023’s nearly complete (healthy) DH campaign was quite encouraging. Nor-Am shows Bella has excellent Speed chops—now must step them up to world-class level. With two seasons before prime years, she’s USA’s most promising next generation DH/SG racer. For 2024, Wright should challenge DH T12, and translate excellent lower-level SG into T30.

Keely Cashman

24 for entire 2024 season, something tells me Keely Cashman can do it long-term. She’s got a wild hair; wax it a touch.

WAWC 48 starts 2019-2023. No Tech finishes from 12 starts. SG – 10th; 3xT30 best results from 16 starts.

DH – 2xT20; 3xT30 best results from 20 starts.

European Cup 2019 – 2023. Speed results. Few/uncompetitive Tech.

DH – 9 starts – 2nd; 5th; 10th; 3xT15; 2xT20; 28th.

SG – 6 starts – 8th; 3xT20; 23d; DNF

Highlight: 2023 EC EOS DH: 6th. 7 starts - 2nd; 5th; 10th; 2xT15; 2xT18. Excellent.

Nor-Am 2015-2023. Speed results here. Very strong Tech; omitting since Speed her WAWC thing.

DH - 12 starts – 1st; 4x2nd; 2x3d; 2xT10; 12th; 2xT30. Outstanding. Lowest finishes first five races.

SG – 23 starts – 2x1st; 3x3d; 9xT10; 11th; 8xDNF. Excellent finish record; DNFs show aggression, I guess.

2020 Nor-Am: Overall 1st; DH 1st; SG 3d; GS 3d; SL 4th. Ruled!!

This kid moves. Now develop/mature to WAWC level. EC competition stiffer than Nor-Am, since you’re taking on Europe’s best young racers (duh)—has work to do but hopefully will establish herself WAWC EOS T20 by 2026 to begin prime. For 2024 season, a 12-start EC Speed campaign and 14 or so WAWC Speed would give Keely a full dose and set her up for 2025 dedicated WAWC. Another strong EC season would really benefit her, IMO. Then she'll give the locals fits.

Tricia Mangan

Here’s a Team USA vet with modest WAWC starts/results, who IMO should be unleased this season on the senior circuit. Turning 27 in early March, she has major vertical beneath her boots. I haven’t seen Tricia in on-line injury searches, fortunately; she’s competed in WAWC, EC, Nor-Am, FIS—sometimes hopping around all four circuits in the same season. She deserves a full schedule shot at the big time.

Solid recent EC, Nor-Am, National Champs Speed results.

Best WAWC finish 17th - DH St. Moritz December 2022.

WAWC 38 starts. 3xT30: 2xDH; AC.

EC: 6xPoints Finishes from 29 starts. Best finish 7th – DH Crans Montana February 2023.

2023: DH 7th; 16th; 2xT23. SG 12th.

2014-2023 All PFs 2021 and 2023

Nor-Am: Looks like 150+ total starts; not gonna count.

2021 Cancelled per Covid; ran mostly FIS & EC; 2022 just three starts.

Citing recent Speed seasons with most starts.

2023: Overall 6th. DH EOS 1st – 4 starts – 2x1st; 2nd; DSQ. SG EOS 2nd – 5 starts – 1st; 3d; 2xT6; DNF.

2020: Overall 2nd. SG EOS 2nd – 3 starts - 2x1st; 2nd. Very nice. (No Nor-Am DH starts this season.)

2019: Overall 4th. DH – 4 starts – 4th; 2x5th; 11th. SG EOS 3d– 5 starts – 2nd; 3d; 2x4th; 5th.

National Championships – 2023 SG 1st; GS 2nd.

Strong Nationals over the past 8 seasons. Not including 2023 above:

DH – 3 starts – 6th; 2x8th.

SG – 7 starts – 2x3d; 5th; 34th; 3xDNF

GS – 9 starts – 3x3d; 4th; 5th; 6th; 7th; 14th; DNF

You know, some WAWC GS starts perhaps in the cards as well. 2019 Nor-Am EOS GS 6th. This person can handle 3-Discipline rigors.

With a year before prime years begin, Mangan should have a chance to build WAWC momentum. She/coaches may think another EC season’s in order; could be. But I got a feeling.

2024 DH T27/30 to gear up for prime. Keep up SG and eye GS. Turn Tricia loose!


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