SCHLADMING, Austria -- One year from the Sochi Olympics, there’s no Lindsey Vonn or Bode Miller competing in the downhill at the world championships.
They’re out of action with injuries -- Vonn crashed and will need knee surgery, while Miller is recovering from surgery -- but the U.S. Ski Team still has plenty of skiers capable of winning medals.
Start with Julia Mancuso. She already won a bronze in super-G, could be a threat in Friday’s super-combined and seeks her first podium of the season in Sunday’s women’s downhill.
Steven Nyman, from Sundance, Utah, grew up mowing Robert Redford’s lawn. He won the classic downhill in December in Val Gardena, Italy, after years of injuries and appears in top form for the men’s downhill Saturday.
"It’s all about building confidence and this race here is the second biggest race we race," Nyman said. "Especially being in Austria, there are going to be tons of fans and media. It’s a good warm-up for the Olympics."
Skiing is the top sport in Austria and some 50,000 fans are expected to descend on this small Alpine village for the men’s downhill Saturday.
Nyman will be joined by team captain Marco Sullivan -- who earned his first podium finish in four years this season -- Olympic super-G bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht and emerging talent Travis Ganong of Squaw Valley, Calif.
Besides Mancuso, the women’s team will feature recent World Cup winner Alice McKennis, veteran Stacey Cook -- who finished twice behind Vonn earlier this season -- and Leanne Smith, who also had two podium results in downhill this season.
The women’s team has been performing so well that Laurenne Ross, who posted a fifth-place result last month, likely won’t make the downhill squad, with only four spots available.
"There’s definitely some confident skiers on our team right now and feeding off each other is a great environment to be in," Smith said. "We’re all really excited for this weekend and the rest of the season."
Cook was the top American otest-disrupted Senate confirmation hearing Thursday the United States employs drone strikes only as a deterrent against imminent terrorist threats, not as punishment for previous attacks.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said at a session during which he also conceded that after years of intelligence work he is uncertain whether the use of waterboarding in interrogations has yielded valuable information.
He declined several times to say whether waterboarding is torture, but he did say it is "something that is reprehensible and should never be done again."
In hours of questioning from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Brennan made repeated general pledges to increase the flow of information to members of the panel, but he was less specific when it came to individual cases. Asked at one point whether he would provide a list of countries where the CIA has used lethal authority, he replied, "It would be my intention to do everything possible" to comply.
At another point, he said he had no second thoughts about having opposed a planned strike against Osama bin Laden in 1998, a few months before the bombings of two U.S. embassies. The plan was not "well-grounded," he said, adding that other intelligence officials also recommended against proceeding. Brennan was at the CIA at the time.