Americans IHere are a few thoughts on the Americans to look for. I've listed the top racers, in order of where they stand worldwide, on the basis of FIS points, in their best event. Using FIS pts is a little more informative, I think, since once you get out of the very top people, the WC points are scattered and a little random. There's not a lot of difference in where the top people stand based on FIS vs. WC points anyway. I may not have the totally most current FIS pts list (with summer races), but it shouldn't be a lot different.
I'm not a journalist or anything, so if anyone notices any facts (or opinions, for that matter) I've got wrong, feel free to post a correction or rebuttal.
Lindsey Kildow (2nd DH, 3rd SG, 8th SL, 210th GS)
With Dorfmeister's retirement, she starts the season as the world's #1 female downhiller, both based on the FIS pts list and last year's WC campaign. Pretty heady place to be. Plus, she has the stuff to be a real all-rounder: just look at her slalom results. Somewhat bizarrely, her GS was a bit lackluster (she was 49th in the WC standings). I've got to figure they're working on that this summer, particularly since it's a weak event for the US women across the board (with one exception). She's already one of the biggest and physically strongest women racers, and that's likely to be more the case this year. She's just 22 and, from what little I know, she's focused and a hard worker. If anything, the disappointment at the Olympics may fuel her. I don't know that she's going to pass that little Swede in the overall standings (particularly since Paerson improved last year in speed), but she'll be a favorite in speed events and could be an overall contender. Especially, but not only, if Kostelic sits out.
Julia Mancuso (6th SG, 9th GS, 12th DH, 23rd SL)
The quintessential big-race skier. She came into her own around the Olympics, though, with some big results in ordinary WC races. IMHO, she may have more raw skiing talent (though less physical might) than Kildow, but isn't as intense. Like Kildow, Mancuso are still only 22, which is an age at which ski racers typically are still improving. Shoot, Dorfmeister was more than a decade older.
Kirsten Clark (8th SG, 21st DH, 254th GS)
At 29, she's the USST's senior female now. Last season was a good return to form after injuries. She could improve her DH performance this year.
Libby Ludlow (11th SG, 101st GS, 105th DH)
Another in the solid roster of US speed skiers, though a little different. As speed specialists go, she's tiny. She's at a big disadvantage in the non-technical SGs (like at the Olympics) and pretty much all the women's DHs, which tend to be gliding races more than on the men's side. She was a very consistent and improving SG racer last year, after a multi-year slog through a series of injuries. She's a classic example of someone who doesn't fit the usual speed/technical division: she really straddles it, as she has the stuff to excel in GS and SG. If (as would seem smart) the team has put some focus on GS, I'd hope to see her break through in that event this year. She is a former national champion in the event, after all. Like Kildow, she has an intense focus and super discipline, and should do well if her knees hold together.
Resi Stiegler (15th SL, 63rd SG, 90th DH (51st in WC standings), 202nd GS)
At just 20, with all-around skills and a solid-gold pedigree, she may be the "next big thing" for the Americans. Her results from last year are depressed by injuries. If she's healthy this year, I'd expect big improvements. She's got a good shot to take over the spot of top US SL skier, at least, and perhaps be a Combined, or even overall, threat in time.
[Kristina Koznick (15th SL, 29th GS, 129th SG) - Retired]
[Sarah Schleper (24th SL, 31st GS, 173rd SG) - I believe she's sitting out a season, and considering retirement.]
Caroline Lalive (26th DH, 31st SG, 162nd GS)
Recovering from the just-pre-Olympic injury that kept her out of the games. At 27, she's not old, though she's been on the US team for the athletic equivalent of forever. She's another injury-plagued racer, and her results have always been more a series of very bright spots, rather than consistently solid.
Stacey Cook (28th DH, 37th SG, 62nd GS)
Opened last season with stunningly good results at Lake Louise, then was solid but not stunning the rest of the year. I don't know if that's because she's a super-glider, or likes cold weather, or maybe just needs a little more seasoning (she's another 22-year-old) to adjust to the travelling and demands of the World Cup.
Kaylin Richardson (38th SL, 59th GS, 102nd DH, 103rd SG)
Only the second technical specialist on this list! And Stiegler might be considered an all-rounder. There are some more below, though, and they're all young. Richardson is yet another 22-year-old (was there something in the water in 1984?), and another Minnesotan, like Koznick.
Jessica Kelley (45th GS, 97th SL)
A Cochran (out of Lindy, I think?)
Jenny Lathrop (48th SL)
Caitlin Ciccone (51st SL, 93rd GS, 120th SG, 140th DH)
She may be better than her points. National GS champ. Possibly another all-rounder. 21 years old.
Sterling Grant (51st SL)
Kristen Mielke (54th)
GS specialist. I think she trains outside the USST system in some manner.
Katharine Hitchcock (57th SL)
21 years old.
Julia Littman (70th DH)
Yet another 1984 kid.
Bryna McCarty (70th SG, 103rd DH)
Got some WC seasoning, and a few SG points, last year. 23.
[Jonna Mendes (74th DH, 77th SG) Retired]
Keely Kelleher (79th GS, 112th SG)
Lauren Ross (82nd SL, 86th GS)
WC points in SL.
Megan McJames (82nd GS, 84th SG, 96th DH)
Only 19, and a potential all-round racer.