By Tom Degun

alan ashleyFebruary 6 - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) chief of sport performance Alan Ashley has been named Team USA Chef de Mission for Sochi 2014. 

Ashley, who joined USOC in 2006 before being appointed chief of sport performance in 2010, previously worked with the US Ski and Snowboard Association for 16 years,

He is widely credited with spearheading the rise of the US ski and snowboard teams as he helped manage the coaching, training and organisational structure for the six Winter Olympic sports and two Winter Paralympic sports in a programme that involved 170 elite athletes and 125 elite coaches.

It is the first time Ashley will serve as Team USA Chef de Mission with former speed skater Mike Plant having taken up the role at Vancouver 2010 and ex-basketball player Teresa Edwards performing the role at London 2012.

Ashley is currently in Sochi for the upcoming Chef de Mission seminar in the Russian city and admitted he is looking forward to the task ahead.

"I'm really excited," said Ashley on a special USOC teleconference call to mark one year to go to the start of Sochi 2014.

"We have a big task ahead but we will be ready.

"This is my fifth visit to Sochi as we prepare for the Games.

"The first time I came to visit there was nothing in place but now it is all looking really good.

"Most of the venues are good shape and I think we can perform well here.

"We haven't set any targets in terms of medal and a position but we are looking to be competitive."

Team USA finished third at Vancouver 2010 as they claimed 37 medal, nine of which were gold, to finish behind Canada and Germany respectively.

But they will now be hoping to replicate their performance at London 2012 where they topped the medal table with 104 medals, 46 of which were gold.

Lindsay-VonnLindsey Vonn, who suffered a season ending crash this week, is expected to recover for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, where she will be one of Team USA’s biggest medal hopes

"The role of my team and I is to get everything in place so the athletes can just go out and do their job," Ashley said.

"That is what we are planning for."

Ashley and the Team USA staff have already suffered an early scare after American Olympic champion alpine skier Lindsey Vonn was involved in a season-ending crash at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Ski World Championships in Schladming yesterday.

Vonn, a four-time World Cup overall champion, received treatment on the slope for 12 minutes before being airlifted to hospital, but she is set to be fit for Sochi 2014.

"This is the first time Lindsey has had a really bad crash in all the years I have been racing her," said Vonn's teammate and fellow Olympic alpine skiing champion Julia Mancuso, who was also on the USOC teleconference call.

"But if there is a good time to have a crash, this is it with the Olympics still a year off.

"I know she will be back fit by the start of the Games and ready to go."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]