Lauren Macuga closes alpine world cup season in on high note in Austria

AUSTRIA — Lauren Macuga of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team wrapped her breakthrough 2023-24 season with a solid 14th place and earned herself some World Cup points to boot on Friday, March 22, at the final super-G of the year in Saalbach, Austria. 

Despite heavy rain overnight and humidity into the early hours of Friday, temperatures cooperated, and the sun was shining for both the women’s and men’s super-G. Out of the gate bib 5, Park City Ski and Snowboard’s Macuga skied a run she could be proud of to close a standout season in which she ended up ranked 13th in the world in the discipline. 

“Nothing has really set in,” the Park City 21-year-old reflected on her season, which featured three top-10 results, including a career-best top-five in Kvitfjell. “It’s still crazy to think about it…it’s been incredible. I was just hoping for a super-G point this year, and now here I am running super-G at Finals. I don’t know, something clicked, and I’m just having fun,” Macuga said to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.

The Czech Republic’s Ester Ledecka won Friday’s super-G, followed by Italy’s Federica Brignone .28 seconds off the pace, and Norway’s Kajsa Lie Vickhoff in third, .30 out. Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami was seventh, but she finished strong enough to walk away with the super-G Crystal Globe to add to her impressive collection this season. 

Though Mikaela Shiffrin wasn’t racing the super-G, she and teammate Jackie Wiles were in the finish area to support Macuga, or “Cougs,” as the team calls her, cheering for her as she crossed the finish line. The women’s speed team has had a great vibe all season, and Macuga is a big reason for that positive energy. 

“The team is really good, obviously,” Macuga said with a laugh after Wiles and Shiffrin hugged her. We have so much fun, and I think that’s what helps a lot. We enjoy being here, we all hang out… and we get some mad Catan games going.” 

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