CONWAY — Leanne Smith has been named to the 2015 U.S. Alpine Ski team women's A team once again while fellow Granite Stater Bode Miller has been selected for the men's A team.
The announcements were made in Copper Mountain, Colo. in November at Copper Mountain, home of the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center.
Smith, 27, a Kennett High alum from Conway, is one of just five women named to the A team for the upcoming season. The two-time Olympian will be joined by Lindsey Vonn (31, Vail, Colo.); Julia Mancuso (31, Squaw Valley, Calif.); Mikaela Shiffrin (20, Eagle-Vail, Colo.); Stacey Cook (31, Mammoth Mountain, Calif.) and Alice McKennis (25, Glenwood Springs, Colo.).
Smith, who raced for both Kennett High and Mount Washington Valley Ski Team, will race on Rossignol skis, Lange boots, Rossignol bindings, Swix poles, POC helmet, POC goggles, POC glasses, and Slytech protection (shinguards) this winter.
Smith, the daughter of Paula and Joe Smith of Conway, has been on the U.S. Ski Team for seven years.
Miller, 37, from Franconia, was one of seven to be named to the men's A team. He'll be joined on the slopes this season by Ted Ligety (30, Park City, Utah); David Chodounksy (30, Crested Butte, Colo.); Travis Ganong (26, Squaw Valley, Calif.); Jared Goldberg (23, Holladay, Utah); Tim Jitloff (29, Reno, Nev.); Andrew Weibrecht (28, Lake Placid, N.Y.).
Miller, who attended Carrabassett Valley Academy, will race on Head skis, Head boots, Head bindings, Leki poles, Dainese helmet, Dainese goggles and glasses this winter.
The announcement kicked off the start of the 2015 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup and Vail/Beaver Creek 2015 World Championships winter. Thirty-five athletes were named to the 2015 A, B and C Team, with another seven to the Development team. The 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships team will be announced on Jan. 27.
The team is coming off a five-medal Olympics, with both Ligety and Shiffrin winning Audi FIS Alpine World Cup titles.
Vonn is making a return after an injury at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming took her out of action. She is expecting to start with World Cup speed events Dec. 5-7 in Lake Louise, where she has won 14 times.
Smith, who raced for both Kennett High and Mount Washington Valley Ski Team, is the daughter of Paula and Joe Smith of Conway. She has been on the U.S. Ski Team for seven years. Smith is looking for big things out of this season and is coming off a 2014 campaign that included some lingering injuries.
"I'm glad I was able to finish the season without major injury, but it's tough to race knowing your body is not 100-percent able to handle everything it needs to in order to be fast," she said. "Mostly it's just super frustrating. I'm the type of athlete who wants to take risk and push the line in every race, and when I can't do that, I don't feel like I can be competitive.
"At the World Cup level now, any small mistake and you might not even make the top 30," she said. "The girls are that good these days. I know I have the speed to be in there every time. Now it's all about moving ahead, getting healthy and putting in the hard work in order to start the 2015 season strong."
The U.S. team looks strong again this winter.
"It's important for us to have a strong U.S. Ski Team as we host the World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek this season," Patrick Riml, alpine director for USST, said. "With Lindsey Vonn's anticipated return, we will enter the season with six Olympic medalists. We're also anxious to see the progress anticipated from younger team members this season. Opening with World Cups in Aspen and Beaver Creek will give us a chance to showcase our team here in America leading up to the World Championships in February."
Vonn believes she's ready to return to racing.
"My knee is doing really well," she said. "Training has been going extremely well. I don't have any pain or swelling, so that's definitely a lot better than I had actually anticipated. My goal is still to start racing in Lake Louise. To be honest, I wasn't really expecting GS to be coming along as quickly as it has. I definitely have to ski on some different snow conditions, some injections and see where I stand. But if things continue to go as they are now, then I think I need to reconsider my schedule for the season and possibly start skiing GS earlier than I had expected. I am leaving everything open, but it is not likely that I will be racing in Aspen."
Miller on Nov. 17 announced that he would undergo outpatient back surgery to alleviate the pain and discomfort he had felt since the end of the previous season. He is expected to get back to the World Cup circuit in January 2015.
Smith sustained a right quad strain and is currently rehabbing. As of early December, there is no set timeline for her return but it is expected to be soon, according to a USST media spokesperson.
For a viewing schedule of televised events, visit http://universalsports.com/2014/10/15/2014-2015-fis-alpine-world-cup-viewing-schedule/.
UPDATED BY TE 12-9-14