Winter Olympics: Alpine skiing capsule outlook
By Chris Dufresne
Los Angeles Times
MEN, FEB. 13
WOMEN, FEB. 17
Best of the U.S.: Lindsey Vonn has won five of the six women’s World Cup downhill races and may be the most prohibitive favorite in Winter Olympics history. She has 31 World Cup victories but is seeking her first Olympic medal. Julia Mancuso ranks No. 9 in the world with two top-10 finishes. Bode Miller, who missed a men’s downhill medal in Italy four years ago by .11, has rejoined the U.S. Team and may be rounding into form. Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Canada has the home-mountain advantage.
Best of the rest: Vonn’s biggest challenger will be close friend, Maria Riesch of Germany. And don’t count out Swedish superstar Anja Paerson. In the men’s race, Switzerland boasts the 1-2 punch of Didier Cuche, who just won the famed Hahnenkamm in Austria, and Carlo Janka. Cuche will be skiing with seven screws and a plate protecting the right thumb he injured in a late-January crash.
Men: 1. Osborne-Paradis, Canada. 2. Janka, Switzerland. 3. Miller, U.S.
Women: 1. Vonn, U.S. 2. Riesch, Germany. 3. Paerson, Sweden.
MEN, FEB. 17
WOMEN, FEB 14
Best of the U.S.: Ted Ligety won gold four years ago in Italy, but the Olympic format has been switched to a downhill and only one slalom run, which should benefit the speed skiers.
Best of the rest: Austria’s Benjamin Raich would have also won in combined had he not skied out in slalom 15 seconds from the finish line. Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic is also a strong contender here.
Men: 1. Miller, U.S. 2. Kostelic, Croatia. 3. Raich, Austria.
Women: 1. Paerson, Sweden. 2. Riesch, Germany. 3. Vonn, U.S.
SUPER GIANT SLALOM
MEN, FEB. 19
WOMEN, FEB. 20
Best of the U.S.: It’s Lindsey Vonn’s to lose. She has already clinched the World Cup event title and her last victory on tour was the super-G in St. Moritz. The only other remotely ranking American is Julia Mancuso at No. 20.
Best of the rest: Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl and Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland. Retirement of super-G stars Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Hermann Maier of Austria leaves men’s field open for Norway’s Aksel-Lund Svindal, Austria’s Walchhofer, Canada’s Erik Guay or Manuel Osborne-Paradis.
Men: 1. Svindal, Norway. 2. Walchhofer, Austria. 3. Guay, Canada.
Women: 1. Vonn, U.S. 2. Goergl, Austria. 3. Aufdenblatten, Switzerland.
MEN, FEB. 21
WOMEN, FEB. 24
Best of the U.S.: Ted Ligety leads the World Cup rankings and won the GS title in 2008. Julia Mancuso was a gold medalist four years ago but has no top 10 finishes this season.
Best of the rest: Austria’s Benjamin Raich is the defending Olympic champion, but teammate Marcel Hirscher is the only racer with two GS wins this season. Favorites for the women: Kathrin Hoelzl from Germany and Austria’s Kathrin Zettel.
Men: 1. Ligety, U.S. 2. Marcel Hirscher, Austria. 3. Benjamin Raich, Austria.
Women: 1. Hoelzl, Germany. 2. Zettel, Austria. 3. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland.
MEN, FEB. 27
WOMEN, FEB. 26
Best of the U.S.: Slim hopes probably rest with Jimmy Cochran or Ted Ligety. Vonn’s arm injury leaves her medal hopes a mystery.
Best of the rest: Austria swept this event in Turin. Reinfried Herbst has four slalom victories this year — three more than any racer. Pencil in Germany’s Riesch for the women’s gold.
Men: 1. Herbst, Austria. 2. Kostelic, Croatia. 3. Raich, Austria.
Women: 1. Riesch, Germany. 2. Zettel, Austria. 3. Aubert, France.