World Cup spring, USA vs. Maze: “I want that globe”

Slovenia’s Tina Maze has the overall World Cup Alpine title in hand, more than doubling her closest pursuer (2,254 points to 1,065 for Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch. The only suspense remaining in the women’s standings: Can Maze complete an unheard-of sweep of the globes handed out in each discipline?

Not if the U.S. Ski Team can help it.

After her slalom win Sunday, Maze leads in every discipline except downhill, where she’s only one point behind the injured Lindsey Vonn.  If Maze remains upright in the World Cup final, she’ll take that one. She already has the giant slalom in hand. If FIS still gave a trophy for combined, she’d have that one, too.

Giant slalom is almost in Maze’s hands. She leads Julia Mancuso by 55 points. Mancuso has to make the podium to have a mathematical chance. If Mancuso wins the final, Maze needs a top-five. If she’s second, Maze needs a top-10.

Mikaela Shiffrin is impressed. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/ESPA via USSA)
Mikaela Shiffrin is impressed. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/ESPA via USSA)

Then we have the showdown. Tina Maze vs. Mikaela Shiffrin, the teen phenom who gave up her slalom lead on Sunday. Maze now leads by seven points. It’s not officially winner-take-all — if both skiers miss the top places, Shiffrin will need a gap of two or three places to claim the title — but it’s close.

The word from this morning:

Meanwhile, in men’s Alpine, the USA officially won’t be walking away without any crystal globes. Ted Ligety has clinched the giant slalom trophy. That’ll happen when your season results are five wins and two third-place finishes in seven races. He also won the world title, of course, and he’s third in the overall World Cup standings with a career-high 922 points (620 in giant slalom).

First place will come down to a final week showdown between defending champion Marcel Hirscher (Austria) and 2007/2009 champion Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway).

In cross-country skiing, Kikkan Randall clinched the sprint season title with a split-second win over dominant Norwegian Maret Bjorgen. Margin of victory: 0.07 seconds. Can’t wait to see the video on that one. Randall also picked up some distance points this season and stands third overall.

Andy Newell is second in the men’s sprint standings, too far back to win but in good shape to stay in the top three.

In ski jumping, the U.S. men aren’t in the mix, but Sarah Hendrickson is on her way to finished second in women’s.

Nordic combined finds the USA still in transition after the big run up to Vancouver. No Americans have been in the World Cup top 10 since.

Freestyle skiing‘s overall trophy hardly matters. Everyone’s specialized, with FIVE events per gender in the Games now with the 2010 addition of skicross and the 2014 additions of halfpipe and slopestyle. Top Americans:

  • Hannah Kearney, first, women’s moguls
  • Torin Yater-Wallace, first, men’s halfpipe
  • David Wise, first, men’s halfpipe
  • Keri Herman, first, women’s slopestyle
  • Emily Cook, second, women’s aerials
  • Maddie Bowman, second, women’s halfpipe
  • Patrick Deneen, third, men’s moguls
  • Heather McPhie, third, women’s moguls
  • Bradley Wilson, fourth, men’s aerials
  • Dylan Ferguson, fourth, men’s aerials
  • Eliza Outtrim, fourth, women’s moguls

And the World Championships just wrapped up in Oslo. U.S. notes:

  • Women’s halfpipe: Bowman didn’t start.
  • Men’s halfpipe: Wise and Yater-Wallace 1-2.
  • Women’s moguls: Need you ask? Hannah Kearney. She was also third in dual moguls.
  • Men’s moguls: No medals in the traditional event, but Deneen was third in duals.
  • Women’s slopestyle: Herman wasn’t there; Grete Eliassen took third.
  • Men’s slopestyle: Thomas Wallisch first; Nicholas Goepper third.
  • Men’s skicross: John Teller third

Still two more weekends on the World Cup circuit, though, so we’ll hold off on the medal projections for now. Safe to say the USA will be expecting some hardware in Sochi.

In snowboarding, the medal projections are already up. We’ll revisit after X Games Tignes in late March. But worth noting: Even though U.S. snowboarders erratically participate on the World Cup circuit, they lead the freestyle disciplines: Scotty Lago and Kelly Clark (halfpipe), Chas Guldemond and Jamie Anderson (slopestyle).

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