Olympians Inspiring Newcomers in Squaw's Alpine Championships

Alpine Ski Racer Rounding Gate
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SQUAW VALLEY, CA -They fly down the mountain at incredible speeds and this week, the best skiers in the nation are right in our own back yard. Olympians back home from Sochi are in Squaw Valley for the US Alpine Championships.

"And here she comes. Shiffrin... she is just on fire!" a ski announcer yelled as the Olympic medalist rocket across the finish line at Squaw.

The excitement is palpable this week at Squaw Valley. Some of the best alpine skiers in the nation going head to head.

Skiing stars like Mikaela Shiffrin and Julia Mancuso are racing down a specially engineered course on Squaw's 'Red Dog.'

"It's nice weather, it's warm, it's sunny, and the hill set up really nice overnight," said Shiffrin, who recently won gold in the slalom in Sochi.

"It's fun being here and we train on this hill a lot so it's really cool," said Mancuso, who won a bronze in the super-combine in Sochi.

This is the second year in a row the championships have been at Squaw.

"It's so great to host the U.S. Alpine Championships here at Squaw again this year. It's great to welcome both our Olympians home to home soil after the Olympics as well as see all the up and coming racers," said Amelia Richmond with Squaw Valley.

Of the 60 racers in each event, they're all fast but not necessarily Olympic fast...yet. They're working toward that.

"What this does is provides an opportunity for young racers, for athletes all over the country to kinda see where they stack up against some of the fastest racers in the world," said Doug Haney with the U.S. Ski Team.

"It just kinda makes you realize how close you are and what you can do to get there. It's amazing," said Francesca English, a Squaw Valley athlete.

"All the U.S. Ski Team coaches get to see us ski and it helped me last year. It got me the opportunity to ski with the ski team a little bit," said Addison Dvorchek, a Squaw Valley athlete.

Don't be fooled; this is not an amateurs' competition. At the end a champion will be crowned right here at Tahoe.

Gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin won Thursday's women's giant slalom. A Canadian took second. Squaw Valley native Julia Mancuso took third.

Races continue through the weekend when you'll have a chance to see the best of men's and women's alpine skiers hit the mountain. Friday evening, Squaw is hosting an Olympian homecoming parade from 6:30 till 8pm.