Alpine Skiing medal predictions

jungleboy

lurker
Mar 1, 2016
134
This is a rough guide (with predictions) for alpine skiing in PyeongChang. I used to write statistical previews for each World Cup race for FIS and though I haven’t done that since the end of the last Olympic cycle, I still watch the WC on a weekly basis.

There will be 11 events, including a combined team event.

Some athletes/stories to watch

Ladies

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) - She could become the face of these Games. At 22, she is already arguably the greatest female slalom skier of all time, having won the last four major championships (WCh at age 17, 19 and 21, OWG at 18) and being ~85% of the way to the WC slalom wins record. She is odds-on to win the slalom, she will also be the favorite in the combined and one of the top three or so favorites in Giant Slalom. Team USA has to decide how to manage her because she could ski all six events (including team) and be a contender in all of them. As she has moved into the speed disciplines the last year or so, it’s surprising that she is better at downhill (in which she won a WC race this season) than Super-G. I think she is very lucky that the ladies’ tech events are first rather than last as is tradition, because it allows her to focus on her best events first and then decide what else she will ski.

Lindsey Vonn (USA) - Probably her last Olympics at 33 after missing Sochi through injury. Won DH gold and SG bronze in Vancouver. Won both DH events in Garmisch this past weekend to extend her ladies’ record of WC wins to 81, just five short of Ingemar Stenmark’s overall record of 86. When she gets it right, she can still generate more speed than anyone else, so I think she still deserves to be the DH favorite.

Sofia Goggia (ITA) - All-or-nothing type of aggressive skier who seems as likely to win a race as to end up in the safety nets. She won both speed test events on the Olympic track last year and is the current DH tour leader. Looks to be more consistent this year and is an excellent chance at medals in both speed events.

Tina Weirather (LIE) - Was in great form before getting injured just before Sochi, so this is another great chance for her at age 28. She has changed coaches this year and has looked particularly good in SG and is one of the favorites, and could grab a medal in the DH too. The only athlete from Liechtenstein to have ever won a gold medal at the winter or summer Olympic Games is her mother, Hanni Wenzel, who won two golds in alpine skiing in 1980.

Men

Marcel Hirscher (AUT) - Six-time overall WC champion who is now the second most successful WC male alpine skier of all time with 55 WC wins. Was a big favourite in the SL and GS in Sochi but didn’t like the hill and didn’t perform well. It looked like he was going to miss a medal in both events but ended up with silver in SL after a second-run surge. A couple of years ago he fell behind a rival in each of his two disciplines (Alexis Pinturault in GS and Henrik Kristoffersen in SL), but he has stormed back and this year has clearly been the best in both. Looking for Olympic redemption here.

Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) - Last Olympic chance at age 35 after coming back from injury this year following a huge crash in Kitzbuehel. Got a full set of medals from Vancouver but missed out in Sochi. One of the two big favorites for the DH along with Beat Feuz (SUI) and a great shot at SG too. One of the strongest guys in the field so he always seems to have enough left in the tank at the end of a long DH when others are tiring.

Predictions

Ladies

Downhill

Gold: Lindsey Vonn (USA)
Silver: Sofia Goggia (ITA)
Bronze: Connie Huetter (AUT)

The last four WC DHs have shown that Vonn and Goggia are the class of the field at the moment. Huetter is a bit of a gamble for bronze and there are a few others who could sneak onto the podium. Weirather is another strong contender.

Super-G

Gold: Tina Weirather (LIE)
Silver: Lara Gut (SUI)
Bronze: Sofia Goggia (ITA)

This should be one of the most exciting and hotly contested races of the Games. A lot of the top women (e.g. Weirather, Gut, Goggia, Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel) are three-discipline skiers with SG being the ‘middle’ of these three and their best discipline. Then there are skiers coming ‘down’ from DH (e.g. Vonn) or ‘up’ from GS (e.g. Italy's Federica Brignone) who are also top contenders. Gut has only won once this season coming back from injury but just leads the season SG standings from Weirather.

Giant Slalom

Gold: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
Silver: Tessa Worley (FRA)
Bronze: Victoria Rebensburg (GER)

These three and Brignone have been the standouts in GS this season and one of them (or more) will have to miss out on a medal. Worley has won a couple of WCh golds in GS and Rebensburg won this event at Vancouver 2010 so both are big favorites. But I just get the feeling that Shiffrin is a big-game performer and will pull it out.

Slalom

Gold: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
Silver: Wendy Holdener (SUI)
Bronze: Frida Hansdotter (SWE)

Combined

Gold: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
Silver: Wendy Holdener (SUI)
Bronze: Lara Gut (SUI)

Shiffrin has adapted to the DH remarkably well in a very short time and is the only woman to have won in DH and SL on the WC tour in the last few years since skiers like Maria Riesch and Tina Maze retired. Shiffrin skipped the WC alpine combined event a couple of weeks ago but if she can finish top 10 in the DH and ahead of Holdener, no one will touch her in the SL leg. Gut might be a bit of a stretch as she doesn’t usually ski slalom (and her recent injury was suffered in training for the SL leg at the last WChs) but she has been top-5 in WChs twice in combined before and is a big-game racer with six individual medals at OWG/WChs level.

Men

Downhill

Gold: Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
Silver: Beat Feuz (SUI)
Bronze: Kjetil Jansrud (NOR)

Svindal and Feuz have clearly been the top two in DH this year so it's a toss-up between the two. A dark horse is Thomas Dressen (GER), who sensationally won the Kitzbuehel DH from Feuz with bib 19 a couple of weeks ago.

Super-G

Gold: Kjetil Jansrud (NOR)
Silver: Hannes Reichelt (AUT)
Bronze: Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)

Men’s SG is a bit of a toss-up at the moment. There are no real out-and-out SG specialists like there are in the ladies’ field (Jansrud comes closest). It’s seen more as a bit of a backup opportunity for the DH skiers. I like the Norwegian vikings and it would be nice to see them both grab medals. Reichelt is a bit of a gamble at age 37 but he’s 4th in the SG standings this year after finishing 2nd last year. He missed the last two Olympics with injury so it would be a great story for him to grab a medal.

Giant Slalom

Gold: Marcel Hirscher (AUT)
Silver: Alexis Pinturault (FRA)
Bronze: Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR)

Slalom

Gold: Marcel Hirscher (AUT)
Silver: Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR)
Bronze: Michael Matt (AUS)

Combined

Gold: Alexis Pinturault (FRA)
Silver and Bronze: whoever can be the least bad at their non-preferred discipline.

Combined in men’s alpine at the moment is a bit of a joke and I believe they are going to remove it from the WC circuit. Pinturault is the only skier at the moment who can cross the speed/tech divide with decent performances on either side of the SG-GS line. Even though his best discipline is GS, he is good enough to finish in the top 10-15 or so in both the DH and SL legs of a combined, and no one else can do that, so he is a massive favorite for this event.
 
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jungleboy

lurker
Mar 1, 2016
134
Not a bad day for my predictions for the rescheduled men's DH and ladies' GS. I got both gold medalists right, got both minor medallists in the downhill but in the wrong order, and missed out on the minor medalists in the GS because Worley (especially) and Rebensburg had trouble with the blind gates over the roller and the tricky gate three from home on the first run and skied themselves out of medal contention.