Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Ted Ligety of the Unites States celebrates in the finish area after winning an alpine ski men's World Cup giant slalom in St. Moritz, , Switzerland, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Pier Marco Tacca)
Olympics: 5 things to know about Alpine skiing
First Published Feb 03 2014 08:48 am • Last Updated Feb 03 2014 11:28 pm

To get a sense of which Alpine ski racers to keep an eye on during the Sochi Olympics, take a look at who is peaking at the right time.

One example: Exactly two weeks before competition is scheduled to begin at the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort, Lara Gut of Switzerland won the last pre-Sochi women’s World Cup speed race. Another: The day before Gut’s super-G victory, Tina Maze of Slovenia won a downhill, her only first-place finish this season.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Bode Miller, the 36-year-old who grew up in New Hampshire and already owns five Olympic medals, turned in a pair of top-three finishes in a downhill and super-G on Jan. 25-26. His U.S. teammate, 2006 Turin gold medalist Ted Ligety of Park City, Utah, won a giant slalom by 1½ seconds Sunday.

"Hopefully," Ligety said, "I can carry that confidence over the next couple weeks."


With the first Winter Games race — the men’s downhill — scheduled for next Sunday, here are five things to know about Alpine skiing:

ALPINE PRIMER: There are speed (downhill, super-G) and technical (slalom, giant slalom) events, plus the super combined, which, as the name implies, combines times from runs of downhill and slalom. Downhill is one run, with the longest course and fastest speeds; men can reach 75 mph. Slalom is two runs — different courses for each — with the shortest length and quickest turns through at least 50 gates. Giant slalom, also known as GS, is also two runs, with fewer gates spaced farther apart. Super-G is one run that’s sort of a hybrid of downhill and giant slalom; gates are spaced similarly to a giant slalom but with fewer turns and greater speed; it joined the Olympics in 1988.

SLOPPY SKIING?: Truth is, as U.S. women’s Alpine coach Alex Hoedlmoser points out, even the most talented athletes can flop on their sport’s most important days, so the skiing in Sochi might not always be of the highest quality. "A lot of people freeze up at big events. It just, like, freaks them out," he says. "In training, we see a lot better skiing a lot of times than we do on the actual race day."

TOP TEENS: Mikaela Shiffrin’s name will surely become familiar to U.S. sports fans; the 18-year-old from Colorado is favored in slalom and carries the tag "The Next Lindsey Vonn" (Vonn herself is sidelined after knee surgery). Another teen who could earn a medal: Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, 19, who won the last pre-Sochi World Cup slalom on Jan. 28. It was his third top-three finish in a slalom during January.

SOLO ARTISTS: Classical-pop violinist Vanessa-Mae’s manager has said she will represent Thailand on the Alpine slopes after meeting International Ski Federation qualifying criteria. The Singapore-born, London-raised musician competes as Vanessa Vanakorn, using her Thai father’s surname. Also worth watching: Zimbabwe’s first Winter Olympian, 20-year-old Luke Steyn, and Hubertus Von Hohenlohe, a German prince who competes for Mexico, turned 55 on Sunday, and is at his sixth Olympics.

story continues below
story continues below

WACKY WEATHER: Race after race was postponed four years ago at the Vancouver Games; this sport depends on acceptable weather. This past World Cup weekend showed what can go wrong: Too much snow in St. Moritz, Switzerland, scuttled downhill training, and fog Saturday forced cancellation of what was supposed to be the last speed race for men before Sochi. As it is, that race was moved from Germany because of a lack of snow there. Women’s races moved from one Slovenian resort to another because of a lack of snow, but rain and fog prompted officials to cancel a giant slalom at the new site. There’s no rain or snow in the forecast this week at the Olympic mountain, and the temperature is expected to hover around freezing.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.