Alpine Skiing discussion - no spoilers please

ConigliarosPotential

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I was sitting at a desk in the Eurosport office, waiting to go in for my ice hockey assignment, and had been passively watching the Super G in the background but went back to doing other stuff on my laptop after it looked like the result had been confirmed. Suddenly this very loud woman burst into the office and said, "Did anyone else just see that!?!" She warned me in enough time to load up the winner's run on the Eurosport Player app...that really was one of the great Olympic moments, for me.
 

cromulence

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I hope she wins gold in snowboard too - that would be one of the all time Olympic feats.
 

BigMike

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Strange how NBC is declaring a winner when there are 25 skiers left. Why would the event organizers put the supposedly-worst competitors toward the end? I thought they usually do it the other way around to keep the suspense up.
As mentioned wow.

As courses are made of snow (ice), they tend to get chopped up over time, so you don't want your premiere competitors to ski out of the bottom 15 spots. So they have some determination of who the best skiers in the world are (whether world cup rankings or something else), and put them at the top of the race. Apparently in the SuperG, they determine the order of the top group by draw (in some other Alpine events they let skiers pick their spot)

So you have in theory all the best "proven skiers in the front section. They get the best snow.

Now that doesn't stop (obviously) someone who isn't a top ranked competitor from doing something unthinkable
 

AB in DC

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As mentioned wow.

As courses are made of snow (ice), they tend to get chopped up over time, so you don't want your premiere competitors to ski out of the bottom 15 spots. So they have some determination of who the best skiers in the world are (whether world cup rankings or something else), and put them at the top of the race.
Interesting, thanks. Watching Vonn go first, though, I thought the snow was a bit too smooth for her -- she seemed to skid out a bit toward the bottom of the race, where choppier snow may have helped her stabilize -- at least to my untrained eye.
 

BigMike

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Interesting, thanks. Watching Vonn go first, though, I thought the snow was a bit too smooth for her -- she seemed to skid out a bit toward the bottom of the race, where choppier snow may have helped her stabilize -- at least to my untrained eye.
Vonn had bad luck in that she drew the #1 spot, which is considered the worst. As no one has skied on the course before so the first few people generally expose the tricky spots for the other competitors.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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Strange how NBC is declaring a winner when there are 25 skiers left. Why would the event organizers put the supposedly-worst competitors toward the end? I thought they usually do it the other way around to keep the suspense up.
No, on first runs (or only runs), they front-load the top skiers because the course deteriorates and tends to be faster earlier.

It's only on multiple-run events where they flip things around on the second run. On giant slalom and slalom, that works pretty fairly; it builds suspense, and all the contenders have to deal with a comparably chewed-up course. In the combined, though, it can give a huge advantage to a skier who ends up right around 30th in the downhill who has a competent slalom (like, say, Muffat-Jeandet) because they get a clean run.

Re the disadvantage of the #1 in Super G... I had an idle thought that they should draw something like five skiers from the 25-35 ranking range to go first, then have the top skiers follow. It gives a shot at a real course report, so you don't end up with someone who's potentially a medal contender flying blind. We saw the men have similar issues as the first two down the hill skied out.
 

jungleboy

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Also worth mentioning: up until a couple of years ago, the seven top-seeded athletes in the one-run speed events held bibs 16-22. I'm not sure if there was a secondary seeding beyond that other than the top 30 going first. So if you were in the lead after bib 22 you were pretty confident, but (premature) victory wasn't declared until after bib 30.

Now the top 10 athletes have the odd numbers from 1-19, and I believe that the next 10 are the even numbers from 2-20. That means (premature) victory is usually declared after bib 20, which came back to haunt everyone today (Ledecka had bib 26).
 

jungleboy

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My predictions have taken a bit of a beating in the last couple of days but I'll set myself up to get knocked down again. There's less than an hour until the first run of the men's GS, where Marcel Hirscher (AUT) starts as favorite to win his first Olympic gold in a non-combined event, having won four of the five WC GS races this season. Hirscher, Alexis Pinturault (FRA) and Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) are the three obvious medal favorites and I've gone with them in that order. Pinturault was a favorite for the alpine combined and ended up with silver, and GS is his best event and last realistic shot at an individual gold at these Games, whereas Kristoffersen still has his best event (slalom) to come, so he might come in relaxed and with nothing to lose.

Of the other racers, defending champion Ted Ligety (USA) is on the long comeback trail from injury and has been gradually building back up to his old form, culminating in a podium in the last GS on the WC tour. He's probably the biggest chance of upsetting the podium favorites, unless some random snowboarder comes out of nowhere and wins gold.
 

streeter88

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Entertaining GS competition, especially the second run chase. Best non podium competitor was Ryan Cochrane-Siegle of the US, who skied the second run of his life - only the gold and silver medalists skied it better.
 

jungleboy

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That happens pretty regularly though, because the earlier starters in the second run get a clean track without the ruts that develop for the later skiers. So in this race, the skiers who went first and second in the second run (i.e. 29th and 30th after the first run) posted the equal-fourth best time of the second run. And in the ladies' GS, Estelle Alphand had the fastest time in the second run after being 26th after the first run. She finished 16th.
 

Ale Xander

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Entertaining GS competition, especially the second run chase. Best non podium competitor was Ryan Cochrane-Siegle of the US, who skied the second run of his life - only the gold and silver medalists skied it better.
French team performance was really impressive.
 

jungleboy

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Stupid newbie question: why aren't there two separate runs for every alpine race? Wouldn't that be much fairer and meaningful in determining the winners than having some events (downhill, super G) determined by a single run?
There are some rumblings about this. IIRC, there was supposed to be a two-run 'sprint' downhill on the ladies' WC circuit this year but I thought it was going to be in Garmisch and then there were just two regular downhills on consecutive days instead. But the way the idea was presented was that the benefit would be more excitement (rather than being fairer) as each skier (in theory) takes the lead from the previous skier on the second run, and that there is a definite point where you know who has won and lost, rather than waiting it out for the lesser skiers to finish the way it currently works.
 

PaulinMyrBch

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Stupid newbie question: why aren't there two separate runs for every alpine race? Wouldn't that be much fairer and meaningful in determining the winners than having some events (downhill, super G) determined by a single run?
I think its as simple as risk of injury. The two speed events are considered dangerous enough that 2 runs would just increase the potential for injury. I’m sure there is also feeling that a skier may take chances they normally wouldn’t if they had 2 runs versus 1.
 

BigMike

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And honestly I can't really say what is fairer.

In most other timed race there is in the Olympics, you get one chance to put up a time and win the race. (sledding the big alternative)

Esta Ledecka doesn't get a gold if they do 2 runs, and maybe Lindsay Vonn is able to have a good second run and get a medal, if you do 2 runs. But is that fairer?

I'd argue the single race format is probably fairer, and gives the chance for a complete wildcard to come out of no where for a victory. But in a 2 race format the cream is going to almost always rise to the top
 
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streeter88

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The other thing to keep in mind is that because of safety, for the DH at least there are a couple of days of training runs on the same course. If there were two runs - unless it's the same course -- the process would take a whole week. Neither the World Cup curcuit nor the Olympics have that kind of time to wait. Particularly in this Olympics with the Siberian wind issues killing the whole first week of the schedule, it would be logistically impossible.

Fun fact: the winning margin between Ledecka and Veith over the 2km (1.25 mi) course was 25cm or less than a foot. That crazy upset wonderful result doesn't happen if there are two runs.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Jeez, there’s so little happening in the Olympics today that NBC is showing us live prime time coverage of the women’s downhill training run?
 

BigMike

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Jeez, there’s so little happening in the Olympics today that NBC is showing us live prime time coverage of the women’s downhill training run?
True, and also face it, it gets them to give lots of time to 2 of the biggest (if not the 2 biggest) stars in the Olympics from an American POV
 

SumnerH

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Apparently Ledecka was using Mikaela Schiffrin's skis for her winning run:

There was a perfect storm of obstacles that Ledecka had to overcome to achieve what appeared to be an impossible task. Repeated weather postponements led American ski star Mikaela Shiffrin to drop out of the Super-G competition, leading many to believe that reigning champion Anna Veith of Austria would be a lock for the gold medal.
...
But Shiffrin skipping out also meant that Ledecka was able to borrow the American's skis for her run down the mountain. With Shiffrin's skis on her feet, the Czech Olympian had the run of her life and finished in 1:21.12, enough to leap over Veith by 0.01 seconds and earn a gold medal.

As it turns out, Ledecka's skills on a mountain are good enough to succeed in both competitive disciplines.
 

Mr. Wednesday

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I completely understand Shiffrin pulling out of the downhill, especially after her first two practice rounds didn't look competitive... and then she was right there with Vonn in the run tonight. I guess on the bright side, that sets her up very well for the combined.
 

Ale Xander

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F the weather, courses, and resulting condensed schedule that is causing Shiffrin to compete in 2 fewer events than otherwise.
 

cromulence

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I completely understand Shiffrin pulling out of the downhill, especially after her first two practice rounds didn't look competitive... and then she was right there with Vonn in the run tonight. I guess on the bright side, that sets her up very well for the combined.
Not really - Vonn slowed way down right before she crossed the line. I don't think she had a legit chance in the downhill, but definitely in the combined.
 
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BigMike

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I completely understand Shiffrin pulling out of the downhill, especially after her first two practice rounds didn't look competitive... and then she was right there with Vonn in the run tonight. I guess on the bright side, that sets her up very well for the combined.
They also both missed gates on their way down. Also I am not sure where their numbers raked yesterday, as they only showed the 2 of them. So we have no idea where they would ultimately ranked yesterday

I think trying to run the Downhill today, and then the extremely tough combined tomorrow probably would have left her with a middling finish in the downhill, and reduced her chances in an event she is actually a top contender in
 

cromulence

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They also both missed gates on their way down. Also I am not sure where their numbers raked yesterday, as they only showed the 2 of them. So we have no idea where they would ultimately ranked yesterday

I think trying to run the Downhill today, and then the extremely tough combined tomorrow probably would have left her with a middling finish in the downhill, and reduced her chances in an event she is actually a top contender in
I checked and Vonn was actually pretty high up there on the times. It's hard to know how much time was gained from missing gates versus lost by hitting the brakes at the end, so it's probably a mistake to pay too much attention to the times. She's definitely a favorite, though.
 

jungleboy

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Vonn and Sofia Goggia (ITA) are the two main favorites, and I tipped them for gold and silver in that order. The next tier of medal contenders includes Connie Huetter (AUT) and Tina Weirather (LIE), although there aren't many out-and-out downhill specialists in the ladies' field (Vonn aside - i.e. a lot of the other top contenders are better suited to Super-G), so medals are really up for grabs here. If people aren't aware or didn't read upthread, the top 10 ranked skiers in the discipline have odd-numbered bibs that are then randomly drawn within the first 20. Goggia goes at No.5, Vonn at No.7.
 

streeter88

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Vonn and Sofia Goggia (ITA) are the two main favorites, and I tipped them for gold and silver in that order. The next tier of medal contenders includes Connie Huetter (AUT) and Tina Weirather (LIE), although there aren't many out-and-out downhill specialists in the ladies' field (Vonn aside - i.e. a lot of the other top contenders are better suited to Super-G), so medals are really up for grabs here. If people aren't aware or didn't read upthread, the top 10 ranked skiers in the discipline have odd-numbered bibs that are then randomly drawn within the first 20. Goggia goes at No.5, Vonn at No.7.
JB, how would you rate Mowinckel, Brignione or Rebensburg as medal threats? Are there any others to worry about? And are any other Americans capable of challenging, either now or next Olympics?
 

jungleboy

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I would rate Rebensburg as the strongest medal threat of the three - I almost included her with Huetter and Weirather. Mowinckel and Brignone are in the Veith/Gut/Weirather category of being three-discipline skiers who are strongest in the middle one of the three (Super-G - another reason why Ledecka's win was so amazing because she beat a great field). But whereas Weirather and perhaps Gut trend 'upwards' from Super-G to DH, Mowinckel and Brignone trend 'downwards' to GS (like Veith in her pre-injury days), so DH is probably their weakest of the three (no career WC DH podiums for Mowinckel, one for Brignone). That said, I think the race is really open so either or both could conceivably grab a medal.

Rebensburg is an interesting case because her best discipline by far is GS but she has put a lot of work into the speed events in the last few years and DH is her second best discipline (reminiscent of another German, Maria Reisch, whose best two disciplines were the two at the opposite ends of the spectrum - SL and DH). Gut is another one to watch out for. She has had a down season by her standards coming off injury but she usually performs well in the big events (6 WChs/OWG medals and almost 7 - she was the one pushed off the podium by Ledecka in the SG). She's a pocket rocket with a low centre of gravity in the tuck and isn't afraid to be aggressive and take risks.

Based on WC form, I can't really see any of the Americans other than Vonn being among the medals today, but plenty of crazier things have happened. Of the three others, Breezy Johnson has probably shown the best recent form. For the future, I think we all know that Shiffrin has the potential to become a dominant all-discipline skier and is pretty much there already - going from not even racing downhill on the WC to winning one in about 12 months. Beyond that I'm not the best person to ask unfortunately.
 

streeter88

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Thanks. I followed the Vonn / Gut / Maze rivalry a few years back, and have seen Goggia, Weireather and Veith (nee Fenniger), but Rebensburg and Mowinckel were new names for me.
 

streeter88

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Yup, I didn't catch on until someone mentioned it in the commentary in one of the races last week.

BTW, thanks for correcting my spelling. I suspected I had left out an n.
 

BigMike

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So I am traveling for another hour, has the downhill started or have they given a timeframe of when it will start>?
 

BigMike

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I love Mowinckel

On the other hand I always root for Liechtenstein in the Olympics, so I feel said she lot a medal chance
 

Ale Xander

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I love Mowinckel

On the other hand I always root for Liechtenstein in the Olympics, so I feel said she lot a medal chance
Yup me too.

National population ~ 37,000, slightly more than 1/2 the size of Framingham
 

Mr Mulliner

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Love when Bode says something and the exact opposite immediately happens.
This is not necessarily directed at you, but people who don’t know ski racing criticizing Bode (which I’ve seen a lot of) sound ridiculous.

A ton of the ACTUAL racers have been bugging him for tips about line and tactics. His knowledge of ski racing is held in the highest regard everywhere that matters.

As someone who raced (against Bode, actually), his commentary is light years ahead of what we typically get in the olympics. The stuff he’s picking up in real time is pretty remarkable.