Mendes remains on the ‘A’ team
Tribune and USSA reports
PARK CITY, Utah – Despite a subpar season Jonna Mendes held her position on “A” team of the U.S. Alpine Team.
Following a World Championship bronze medal during the 2002-03 season, the 25-year-old Mendes had high expectations this season. But after an early fifth-place World Cup finish, Mendes, who grew up on the South Shore, struggled to crack the top 30 in race after race.
Program director Jesse Hunt announced the selections on Monday.
Five other Lake Tahoe athletes were selected to either the A, B or C teams.
Reigning world and World Cup giant slalom champion Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H. and Truckee’s Daron Rahlves, the most successful U.S. men’s downhill and super-G racer, head a group of 39 skiers for the 2004-05 season. Miller, 26, and Rahlves, 30, finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the overall World Cup standings and are expected to contend for the overall title next season.
North Shore’s Marco Sullivan, 24, who missed most of last season because of knee damage, also was chosen to the men’s A team.
Joining Mendes from Lake Tahoe on the 17-member women’s side are North Shore’s Julia Mancuso, 20, and 19-year-old Stacey Cook of Truckee. Katie Hitchcock, 19, of Truckee was appointed to the C team.
Former Truckee resident Caroline Lalive also made the women’s A team.
Rahlves was a four-time winner last season – twice in downhill, twice in super-G – as he finished runner-up in the downhill standings for the second straight season and was second in the super-G standings as well.
“This is a well-balanced team with proven success,” Hunt said. “We had 10 World Cup victories last season and 20 podiums, and more success at the Europa Cup and Nor Am levels as well as taking the team trophy (the Marc Hodler Trophy) at World Junior Championships. Bode and Daron had great seasons, for sure, but it wasn’t a one- or two-man show or just World Cup success. We talk about winning at every level and we were doing that.”
Hunt looks for continued improvement, and said the return of, most notably, Sullivan, Erik Schlopy and Kirsten Clark from injury will further strengthen the Ski Team as it heads into the 2005 World Championships in Bormio, Italy, and builds toward the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy.
Thirteen U.S. skiers qualified to race at World Cup Finals, which was just one indication of the growing depth for the Ski Team, Hunt said.
“Success breeds confidence and confidence can lead to all kinds of good things. I’m excited about this team and this season,” Hunt said.
The women’s team will move forward with Patrick Riml heading up the tech team as well as being the women’s head coach. There will be no replacement for Wolfgang Erharter, former women’s slalom/GS head coach.