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The Sound of Music -- on skis

By Paul Gittings, CNN
updated 3:42 AM EST, Fri November 7, 2014
The hills are alive -- to the sound of the U.S. women's ski team singing? The hills are alive -- to the sound of the U.S. women's ski team singing?
Singing Skiing Stars
Leader of the pack
Celebrity status
Singing Skiing Stars
Medal winning machine
Pop star skier
Rocky Mountain High
Golden hope
Singing teammates
Vonn comeback trail
Global dominance
Role model
  • U.S. women's ski team has strong prospects for season ahead
  • Mikaela Shiffrin and Julia Mancuso medalled at 2014 Sochi Olympics
  • Preparing for 2015 world championships in Colorado
  • Team members enjoy musical interludes off the slopes

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(CNN) -- Whether it's topping the podium at the Olympics and World Cup events or finding a welcome diversion away from the pressure cooker atmosphere of international competition, the U.S. women's ski team is certainly hitting the high notes.

With the likes of teenage sensation Mikaela Shiffrin, super reliable Julia Mancuso and a fit-again Lindsey Vonn in its ranks, plus a strong supporting cast, the prospects for the season ahead look more than promising.

Their ultimate focus is the world championships on the home snow of Colorado next February and the training has been intense -- but away from the piste the U.S. team room is more than often than not reverberating to the sound of music.

Gathered around the most accomplished musician, the guitar-strumming downhill and super-G specialist Laurenne Ross, a host of popular standards are belted out with gusto and and more often than not in tune.

Ross, who can also play the violin and piano, made the podium in downhill at the World Cup event in Garmisch last year and took 11th in the Sochi Games in the discipline.

An outside bet for a medal at the 2015 world championships, Ross believes that her other passion boosts her sporting performance.

"I feel something with music that I feel on my skis and it puts me in the zone," she told CNN's Alpine Edge.

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Mancuso, a four-time Olympic medalist, the most by a U.S woman skier, is happy to be in the chorus in the musical sense but believes that as a team bonding exercise all feel the benefit of a different rhythm.

"It's been the same group of girls for a lot of time and it's a lot of fun," she said.

Mancuso's bronze in Sochi in the Super Combined Slalom was added to Shiffrin's gold in the slalom and both were firmly in the media spotlight in the aftermath of the Winter Games, with a string of invites to celebrity events.

The 30-year-old Mancuso, who has been on the World Cup circuit since she was just 15, is delighted to see the achievements of the team raise the profile of alpine skiing in the United States and take it into the mainstream.

"To see our sport at the pinnacle of sport in America is really cool because it's been such a European dominated sport," she added.

Mancuso will be looking to add to her five world championship medals by adding an elusive gold when the action gets underway in Beaver Creek in February 2015.

With the precocious Shiffrin starting the 2014-15 season with a fine World Cup win in giant slalom in Austria and Vonn on the comeback trail after knee surgery, the trio will, in the words of the John Denver song, be aiming for a "Rocky Mountain High" at Beaver Creek.

Had he still been around --the musician died in 1997 -- Denver, a skiing fanatic who made his home in nearby Aspen, would doubtless been among the cheerleaders for the United States team.

Denver may also have had a soft spot for Tina Maze, another skiing star with musical talent, who has enjoyed chart success in her native Slovenia with her song "My Way is My Decision."

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The two-time Olympic gold medalist even referenced Denver on Facebook when appearing at a World Cup event in Colorado in 2012, saying many of his songs were translated into Slovenian and remained popular standards in her country.

Of course there will be one piece of music that all the contenders for global glory will be hoping to hear in Colorado, their national anthems to signify the top place on the podium.

But as U.S. team member Stacey Cook told CNN all the intense rivalry can be put aside by making music together.

"It's nice to just sit down for 20 minutes to remember we are friends, not just competitors," she said.

With such a strong team ethic in the U.S. ranks it may be a safe bet to assume the sound of the Star-Spangled Banner will be ringing around Beaver Creek to delight home followers.

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