Julia Mancuso got the ball rolling with an almost forgotten bronze medal on the same day Lindsey Vonn had a season-ending crash.
Ted Ligety followed with three golds to earn the title from local media of “Der Koenig von Schladming” — “The King of Schladming.”
And 17-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin capped a historic world championships for the U.S. Ski Team by fighting off a serious case of nerves to win the slalom title.
In the end, even without Vonn and Bode Miller — who is sitting out this season to recover from left knee surgery — the U.S. had the most golds at worlds — the first non-European nation to achieve the feat.
“It’s been incredible — hot and cold,” U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml said Sunday. “The rest of our team is stepping up so big.”
The showing was even more impressive considering the scene, with huge crowds in this ski-crazy nation averaging 30,000 fans, and nearly all of them pulling for Austrian skiers.
While the Austrians led in total medals with eight, the U.S. topped the International Ski Federation’s table with four golds. Austria and France were next with two golds each.
“It’s nice being in Austria and beating up on the Austrians on their home turf,” said Ligety, who won in super-G, super-combined and giant slalom. “They always dominate the sport and they always kind of seem like they should be dominating the sport so it makes it all the more satisfying to beat them.”
But Peter Schroecksnadel, the powerful president of the Austrian ski federation, didn’t see it as a loss.
“In the U.S., they don’t count golds, they count the overall number of medals,” Schroecksnadel said. “So there we are No. 1.”
Riml, who is Austrian, wasn’t surprised by Schroecksnadel’s comments.
“He just turns it the way he wants it,” Riml said. “That’s OK. We won the most World Cup races this year and we’ll lead that when we leave the World Cup finals.”