Violinist allegedly qualified for Games through rigged race

Not that we could ever condone cheating, but wouldn’t it be nice to think that if we’re going to bend the rules to get a celebrity into the Olympics, we did it for a violinist? Culture still exists!

Slovenia Ski Association director Yuri Zurej describes some of the problems:

When we checked the competition and all the data, we discovered that, on the results list on the second day of the competition, in fourth place there was a girl not even physically present at the course. Another example was of a girl who told us she fell in the race and then slowly continued to the finish line, but was recorded as finishing in second place.

The good news: There’s no evidence that the violinist in question, Vanessa-Mae, had any idea.

BBC story (HT: OlympicTalk)

Advertisement

Sochi recap: Alpine skiing, men’s slalom

Austria’s Mario Matt has two world slalom titles (2001, 2007) and plenty of World Cup success. But he has rarely been healthy in the Olympics — in fact, he had never finished an Olympic slalom. Now the 34-year-old is a gold medalist.

Date: 22-Feb

Sport: Alpine skiing

Event: Men’s slalom

Medalists: Mario Matt (Austria), Marcel Hirscher (Austria), Henrik Kristoffersen (Norway)

SportsMyriad projections: Marcel Hirscher (Austria), Mario Matt (Austria), Felix Neureuther (Germany)

How U.S. fared: Nolan Kasper was 18th, exactly 2 seconds back, after the first run. David Chodounsky did not finish.

That left all eyes on Ted Ligety, the giant slalom gold medalist. His World Cup slalom results aren’t special — no better than sixth in the last four years. He hadn’t finished the slalom in 2006 or 2009. But after one run, he was a solid sixth, just 0.11 seconds out of the medal places. He quipped to the camera that it was better than he expected.

Kasper had a rough patch early in the second run but made it down, which is more than could be said for many. He was fifth among the first 13 skiers to go, one place behind University of Denver alumnus Leif Kristian Haugen of Norway.

And Kasper would be the only U.S. skier to finish. Ligety was in trouble from the early going and finally slid out. He tried to hike back up but couldn’t resurrect his run.

When the course kicked out several favorites, Kasper climbed up to 13th overall.

What happened: The tough course took out six of the top 30 in the first run, including Benjamin Raich, fellow Austrian Reinfried Herbst and surprise giant slalom medalist Steve Missillier. The leaderboard was filled with favorites — Mario Matt first, Sweden’s Andre Myhrer 0.45 seconds back in second, then Germany’s Felix Neureuther, France’s Alexis Pinturault and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher clustered in seventh through ninth.

The surprises were tied for third — Sweden’s Mattias Hargin at least has a recent World Cup podium, which Italy’s Stefano Gross hasn’t done in two years. France’s Jean-Baptiste Grange, in fifth place, won the 2011 World Championship in the midst of a superb World Cup season but hadn’t been on the podium in a few years. Then Ligety, a giant slalom monster but better in the speed events than slalom.

Croatia’s Ante Kostelic, Ivica’s father, somehow drew the assignment of setting the course for the second run again, just as he did in the combined. Would anyone finish? The first three skiers failed, and the fourth had to hike back up the hill to make a gate. Six of the first 15 went out.

With the course chewing up the field, someone would have a chance to move up the standings with a good run. Through 21 skiers, the leader was 19-year-old Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, who has four World Cup podiums in a breakout season.

Hirscher took a big dent out of that. He extended his 0.51-second lead over Kristoffersen in the first run to 0.55 seconds.

Then came Pinturault, going out of control but fast in the early going. He kept going fast but also kept going out of control, eventually going airborne with his skis askew. He was out. Then Neurather went out. Then Ligety. Then Grange. Hargin made it down but slipped down the standings (and immediately skied out the athletes’ exit). Gross gave it a good run early but could only finish third with two skiers to go.

Myhrer, the 2012 World Cup champion and 2010 bronze medalist, came out aggressive. And almost immediately straddled a gate.

Mario Matt had a 1.28-second advantage over Hirscher after the first run. He went out conservatively, giving back a bit of time. But he was in control … and he did it. He gave back exactly one second, winning by 0.28 seconds.

Full results

Sochi recap: Alpine skiing, men’s giant slalom

Always nice to see a big favorite come through under Olympic pressure, and that’s just what the USA’s Ted Ligety did. The 2006 combined gold medalist and two-time giant slalom world champion had a blazing first run and careful second run to take gold.

Date: 19-Feb

Sport: Alpine skiing

Event: Men’s giant slalom

Medalists: Ted Ligety (USA), Steve Missillier (France), Alexis Pinturault (France)

SportsMyriad projections: Ted Ligety (USA), Marcel Hirscher (Austria), Alexis Pinturault (France)

How U.S. fared: Ted Ligety was a contender in the super-G and combined but hadn’t been as close to the podium as he would’ve liked. This event, which he has dominated for the last couple of years, was a different story. He took a 0.93-second lead after the first run.

Also after the first run: Tim Jitloff 21st (2.15 back), Bode Miller 26th (2.56), Jared Goldberg 27th (2.58).

Miller took silver in this event way back in 2002 and won the 2003 World Championship, but he had focused more on the speed events in recent years. This was surely his final Olympic run, and he cruised to the finish, conceding a spot in the standings to Goldberg.

Jitloff made recovery after recovery on a wild second run, but he maintained his advantage over those who went ahead of him.

That left all eyes on Ligety, who did just what he needed in the second run to come through. And all four Americans were in the top 20: Jitloff 15th, Goldberg 19th, Miller 20th.

What happened: The Czech Republic’s Ondrej Bank was the only skier within a second of Ted Ligety in the first run, 0.93 seconds back. Then came 12 skiers within 0.38 seconds of each other, including downhill champion Matthias Mayer, France’s Alexis Pinturault, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher and Germany’s Felix Neureuther. The latter was injured in a car accident on the way to the airport to go to Sochi less than a week ago.

The stunner in the second run was France’s Steve Missillier, whose only World Cup podium was in a slalom in 2010. But his time stood as favorites like Pinturault and Hirscher came down the hill. With two riders to go, the podium was Missillier, Pinturault (0.16 behind) and Hirscher (0.46). Then Ondrej Bank had a wayward run and missed out on the podium.

So would it be a complete outsider (Missillier) or the overwhelming favorite (Ligety)? Ligety was 1.50 seconds ahead of the Frenchman, so to say the least, he wouldn’t have to be aggressive. He gave back a full second. Still had time to spare. Gold for Ligety.

Full results

Sochi recap: Alpine skiing, women’s giant slalom

Hey, save some Olympic medals for someone else! Tina Maze won her second gold of these Games, Anna Fenninger added a silver to her gold, and defending champion Viktoria Rebensburg took bronze this time around. U.S. teen Mikaela Shiffrin, a strong slalom contender, took a solid fifth place here.

Date: 18-Feb

Sport: Alpine skiing

Event: Women’s giant slalom

Medalists: Tina Maze (Slovenia), Anna Fenninger (Austria), Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany)

SportsMyriad projections: Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (Sweden), Tina Maze (Slovenia), Lara Gut (Switzerland)

How U.S. fared: This was our first look at Mikaela Shiffrin, misleadingly billed as the next Lindsey Vonn. Shiffrin is a world champion and World Cup champion in the slalom; Vonn is mostly a speed specialist. Shiffrin isn’t bad in giant slalom, ranking sixth in the current World Cup standings. She did one better in the first run here, taking fifth, and she stayed fifth when the standings shook up a little in the second.

Shiffrin wound up 0.50 seconds behind the winner and 0.23 off the podium. The margin to those behind her was bigger — 0.45 down to sixth, way down to eighth and beyond. No medal, but this was a very good start to what could be a terrific Olympic career.

Resi Stiegler and Megan McJames barely missed the top 30 in the first run — 32nd and 33rd. Two of the top 30 didn’t finish, and neither did the 31st, and Stiegler and McJames easily moved up to 29th and 30th.

Julia Mancuso, already a medalist at these Games (to add to her collection), did not finish the first run.

What happened: One contender was already out — Germany’s Maria Höfl-Riesch had a cold and decided to stay home and count her medals.

Slovenia’s Tina Maze, who dominated the World Cup circuit last year but hasn’t been quite as good this season, took a big lead of 0.52 seconds in the first run. Packed together behind her: Sweden’s Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, Italy’s Nadia Fanchini, Austria’s Anna Fenninger, and the USA’s Mikaela Shiffrin.

But the variable conditions of the second run — snow at the top, rain at the bottom, inconsistent fog in the middle — left the possibility that someone could make a big run and move up quite a bit. Through the first 24 skiers, the leaders were Sweden’s Marie Pietalie-Holmner, France’s Anemone Marmottan, and Switzerland’s Lara Gut.

The defending champion, Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, found a lot of speed on the course, blazing through with no trouble to take the lead. Shiffrin couldn’t quite match that and slipped one place.

Fenninger kept losing time to Rebensburg through the course but finished aggressively and maintained just enough of the lead she had from the first run — 0.20 seconds in front across the two legs.

Fanchini lost a good bit of time right away and made a tentative run. She came into the finish behind Fenninger and Rebensburg but just ahead of Shiffrin.

Lindell-Vikarby, the World Cup leader in this discipline, had a couple of skids early and snagged a gate. She made it down the course but lost a lot of time, dropping out of the top five.

So either Fenninger or Maze would win her second gold of the Games. Maze, cutting through the fog, gave the course plenty of respect. Her lead was down to 0.14 by the third split. And the finish … 0.07 in front!

Full results

Sochi recap: Alpine skiing: men’s super-G

Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who tore his ACL in the World Championships super-G a year ago, shot down the hill for a big win. And it’s a huge day for the Americans — World Cup also-ran Andrew Weibrecht claimed his second Olympic medal while Bode Miller earned his sixth.

Updated with final results.

Date: 16-Feb

Sport: Alpine skiing

Event: Men’s super-G

Medalists: Kjetil Jansrud (Norway), Andrew Weibrecht (USA), Bode Miller (USA) and Jan Hudec (Canada) tied for bronze

SportsMyriad projections: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway), Matthias Mayer (Austria), Patrick Küng (Switzerland)

How U.S. fared: Ted Ligety won the 2013 World Championship in this event, but that was a surprise. He’s much better in giant slalom. He had good speed early in this run but had a big skid and barely made it through a gate just as he hit a flatter section, giving up a lot of momentum. Through nine skiers, he stood third, but he would drop to 14th.

This was Bode Miller’s last chance to add to his collection of Olympic medals, and it’s safe to say he went for it. Riding the ragged edge of disaster all the way down and sometimes brushing the snow with his hand, Miller made it down with the lead through 13 skiers. He didn’t look happy with the run, but he brought the excitement if nothing else. Would it stand?

Travis Ganong, a surprise fifth place in the downhill, started 25th. He made it down with control but not speed, dropping 1.88 seconds behind the leader. He finished 23rd.

Andrew Weibrecht had a career race in this event in 2010, taking bronze. Starting 29th, he took an aggressive approach and startlingly led by 0.35 seconds at the first split. Then 0.33 at the second. With that much speed, you had to figure he could make a mistake, but he was still 0.20 ahead at the next split. He lost time down the stretch as the crowd roared in anticipation of the upset. His time: 1:18.44 — 30 seconds behind Jansrud but ahead of Miller and Hudec!

What happened: Another tough course for the skiers. The first three down the hill looked perplexed at the finish. Russia’s Alexander Glebov skidded on his side, stood up, pawed at the orange safety netting and yelled something we’ll guess was unfit for television.

Italy’s Peter Fill took the early lead. Countryman Christof Innerhofer, already with two medals here, shockingly skidded out in the first couple of gates, slamming a pole to the snow in frustration. Then came Miller to bump Fill out of first.

Austrians Max Franz and Ottmar Striedinger followed Miller and came so close to beating his time — Franz was 0.07 seconds back, Striedinger 0.02.

Then it was the Norwegian great Aksel Lund Svindal. Three medals in 2010, including gold in this event. The live NBC stream worked in a few ads and was late coming back to the action. We’ll assume he looked OK, but he came in 0.09 behind Miller in fourth place.

The other two Austrians faltered. Downhill champion Matthias Mayer skidded out, and Georg Streitberger was nowhere near the pace.

Swiss favorite Patrick Küng has been a little ill, and he was slower than Miller through the early splits. Küng finished ahead of the American. Ligety, that is — not Miller. Bode was busy telling interviewers he wasn’t too happy with his run, but we were running out of people who could catch him.

Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud took bronze in the downhill and had the fastest downhill time in the combined. Starting 21st, he was the last skier who had not just a chance to beat Miller but a good chance. He was within 0.16 of Miller early and closed to 0.04. Then 0.02. And at the last — 0.53 ahead of Miller! He punched the air and the snow. Miller gave a wry smile and hugged his wife.

The last of the top seeds were the Canadians. Jan Hudec had good speed early, went a little out of control at the end and raced across — 0.53 behind Jansrud. Yes, TIED with Bode Miller in silver position.

Erik Guay, on the other hand, lost plenty of speed early and never caught up, then missed a late gate to get the dreaded DNF. That left seven of the top 30 to go, including two Americans. Occasionally, someone in that group will pull a stunner, and Weibrecht did just that.

One skier outside the top 30, the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Bank, looked like a potential fly in the ointment and indeed had some fast splits. He worked his way into the top 10, only 0.44 behind Miller and Hudec.

Quotes: From before Jansrud’s run …

After Weibrecht’s run …

Full results

Sochi recap: Alpine skiing, men’s combined

Swiss time was not running out in Russia today, with Sandro Viletta taking Olympic combined gold ahead of a cast of the usual suspects.

Date: 14-Feb

Sport: Alpine skiing

Event: Men’s combined (one run each of downhill and slalom)

Medalists: Sandro Viletta (Switzerland), Ivica Kostelic (Croatia), Christof Innerhofer (Italy)

SportsMyriad projections: Alexis Pinturault (France), Ted Ligety (USA), Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)

How U.S. fared: Defending champion Bode Miller and world champion Ted Ligety were out of contention after the downhill. Miller, at one time a great slalom skier but not as much in recent years, was 12th after the downhill, 1.43 seconds off the lead. Ligety was 18th, 1.93 back.

Ligety wasn’t totally out of it, but he lost a full second to the early leader, Slovakia’s Adam Jampa, just on the bottom third of the slalom course. He knew that wouldn’t stand.

Miller gave up a lot of time early in the slalom. He pushed hard at the end but was only third with 11 seeded skiers to go.

Andrew Weibrecht, the surprise super-G medalist in 2010, straddled a gate in the slalom and slid a few meters on his stomach.

The surprise: 22-year-old Jared Goldberg. The first-time Olympian and second-year World Cup skier had a good downhill run, taking 15th. And then he made his way through the slalom course only 0.17 seconds slower than Ligety. Overall, that put him 0.10 ahead of Ted. Remember the name for the future.

Final results: Miller sixth, Goldberg 11th, Ligety 12th, Weibrecht DNF

What happened: Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic is always a contender in this one — no longer great in other disciplines but still enough of an all-rounder to figure in the mix here. And somehow, Kostelic’s father drew the assignment for setting the course. Again.

And the course chewed up a couple of the contenders. France’s Alexis Pinturault, who usually makes up time in the slalom, went out early. Italy’s Peter Fill straddled a gate.

Through 16 skiers in the slalom, early starter Adam Zampa still had the lead. Switzerland’s Sandro Viletta broke through with the second-fastest slalom, taking the lead by 1.14 seconds.

Before the top 10 from the downhill took the course, the tentative podium was Viletta, Zampa and Bode Miller. Surely that wouldn’t stand, right?

Switzerland’s Carlo Janka has a better resume than most, but he came across in fourth. Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, the downhill silver medalist and a World Championship runner-up in this event in 2011, cut quickly through the bottom of the course to take second, bumping Miller off the podium.

Then came Kostelic, skiing his father’s course. He got onto the tentative podium ahead of Innerhofer, but he was surprisingly cautious and didn’t catch Viletta.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal is the greatest skier of the past several years. But the senior Kostelic’s course tripped him up in 2010, and he worked his way through it slowly, finishing out of the top five.

The last five seeded skiers faced the challenge of converting their strong downhill form into a fast run down this rough course that took out one-quarter of the skiers who had gone before. Austria’s Matthias Mayer, looking for a medal to add his surprising downhill gold, went slowly and missed the top 10. The Czech Republic’s Ondrej Bank looked like he was skiing in fear of the gates, finishing but missing the top five.

Last seeded skier: Could Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud make up for Svindal’s exit? He went out smoothly in nice control. He gave up time to Viletta’s splits but was still in contention for the podium until the very end, falling a half-second short of the podium.

Viletta doesn’t have the biggest name in the sport, but he’s not a shocking gold medalist. He was fifth in the 2013 World Championships and fourth in the lone World Cup race in this discipline so far this season. The other two medalists are no surprise — particularly when one’s father sets the course.

Full results

Sochi recap: Alpine skiing, men’s downhill

The glamorous downhill event turns up some surprises, and this was no exception. Matthias Mayer, who had never won a World Cup race and never finished higher than fifth in downhill, is the gold medalist.

Date: 9- Feb

Sport: Alpine skiing

Event: Men’s downhill

Medalists: Matthias Mayer (Austria), Christof Innerhofer (Italy), Kjetil Jansrud (Norway)

SportsMyriad projections: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway), Erik Guay (Canada), Dominik Paris (Italy)

How U.S. fared: Bode Miller hasn’t had the best track record in recent years, which is why he wasn’t a projected medalist. He did well in recent weeks and in training here, but he didn’t quite find the speed today, finishing eighth.

Overshadowed by the Bode hype — Travis Ganong took a stunning fifth. He had never finished higher than sixth in any World Cup race, never higher than seventh in downhill.

Steven Nyman was the first skier on the course and took 27th overall. Marco Sullivan placed 30th.

What happened: After Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, the medals were difficult to pick. But Svindal, the 18th skier to start, lost time in the middle and stood third at the finish line behind Austria’s Matthias Mayer and fellow Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud.

Two skiers later, Italy’s Christof Innerhofer took aim down the treacherous slope. He led by more than a half-second through the first split but steadily lost time and finished just 0.06 seconds behind Mayer.

Most of the other contenders didn’t make a strong run at the top places. The exception was 36-year-old Swiss veteran Didier Defago, who held a brief lead near the top of the course but dropped well back and finished 14th.

Innerhofer is the least surprising medalist. He took a medal of each color at the 2011 World Championships, including downhill bronze, and he won three World Cup downhills last season. Jansrud is the 2010 silver medalist in giant slalom and has little to show in major speed events, though he has a few scattered World Cup podiums.

Only two skiers failed to finish the course — among the top 30 starters, only France’s Johan Clarey.

 

Quote: “This is unbelievable. I thought maybe in a few years I could dream of this sort of achievement. It was really cool and my family will be excited.” – Matthias Mayer

Full results

2014 medal projections: Jan. 14 update

Time for a few tweaks given the results (and untimely injuries) of late — and when you add it all up, we have a new leader:

Alpine skiing: Lindsey Vonn’s absence shakes things up a bit and pretty well insures the USA won’t come near its total of eight medals in 2010. Ted Ligety (third overall) and Mikaela Shiffrin are still favorites, and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal (second overall; downhill and super-G leader) is still as dominant as ever.

Changes:

  • Men’s downhill: Erik Guay (CAN) up to silver, Klaus Kröll (AUT) down to considered, Adrien Theaux (FRA) up to considered
  • Men’s giant slalom: Alexis Pinturault (FRA) up to bronze, Manfred Moelgg (ITA) down to considered
  • Men’s slalom: Mario Matt (AUT) up to silver, Ivica Kostelic (CRO) down to considered
  • Men’s combined: Pinturault up to gold, Ligety up to silver, Svindal up to bronze, Kostelic down to considered
  • Women’s downhill: Vonn out, Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) up to gold, Tina Maze (SLO) up to silver, Tina Weirather (LIE) up to bronze, Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) up to considered
  • Women’s super-G: Vonn out, Anna Fenninger (AUT) up to gold, Tina Maze (SLO) down to silver, Lara Gut (SUI) up to bronze, Julia Mancuso (USA) down to considered
  • Women’s giant slalom: Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) up to considered
  • Women’s slalom: My medal picks are currently 1-2-4 in the World Cup standings. They’ll stay put.

Biathlon: Andreas Birnbacher (Germany) has been sick, so we won’t knock him out of the projections just yet. Not too many surprises on the men’s side, though France’s relay team needs to improve. The surprise in the women’s competition is the Czech Republic’s Gabriela Soukalova, who’s leading the World Cup standings. France’s Marie Dorin Habert has a ruptured tendon in her ankle, so we’ll remove her from consideration.

Changes:

  • Women’s sprint: Soukalova (CZE) up to bronze, Olena Pidrushna (UKR) down to considered
  • Women’s pursuit: Soukalova up to silver, Valj Semerenko (UKR) up to bronze, Andrea Henkel (GER) and Pidrushna down to considered

Bobsled: The early-season races in North America have skewed the current standings toward the U.S. and Canadian teams. The men haven’t done as well in Europe. Manuel Machata isn’t getting many opportunities for Germany, and Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis isn’t in great form.

Changes:

  • Men’s two-man and four-man: Drop Machata from considered
  • Women’s: Elana Meyers (USA) up to silver, Sandra Kiriasis (GER) down to bronze, Cathleen Martini (GER) down to considered, Jamie Greubel (USA) up to considered

Cross-country skiing: Dario Cologna (SUI) is trying to come back from ankle surgery. We’ll leave him in for now. A couple of other skiers have skipped the odd World Cup event or the entire Tour de Ski, so the World Cup standings from this season aren’t that meaningful. One surprise: American Simi Hamilton won a freestyle sprint.

Changes: 

  • Women’s sprint: Denise Herrman (GER) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) up to considered

Figure skating: Most of the pre-Sochi competition is complete aside from the European Championships this week, so the projections won’t change much. The Four Continents will only have a couple of Olympians in action. But qualification and national championships have made things interesting. Ashley Wagner placed fourth, and her inclusion is mildly controversial. Evgeni Plushenko on the fringe of Russia’s plans, Japan’s Miki Ando retired after missing out an Olympic berth, and projected gold medalist Mao Asada was third in Japan’s championships. At least defending gold medalist Yuna Kim won handily in South Korea after skipping the Grand Prix season. Gracie Gold’s score from U.S. Championships would be the highest in the world this year, but would international judges be as generous?

Changes:

  • Women’s: Gracie Gold (USA) considered. Miki Ando (Japan) out. Considered list now specifying the likely Russian skaters: Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaia

Freestyle skiing: The X Games and World Cup events may still shake things up.

Changes in aerials

  • Men: 2010 World Cup champion Anton Kusnhir (BLR) missed the 2012-13 season and has come back with a win in Deer Valley and another podium. Countryman Alexei Grishin, the 2010 gold medalist, is making a comeback and was third in Deer Valley. They’re up to considered.
  • Women: We’ll see who makes China and Australia teams. USA’s Ashley Caldwell and Emily Cook up to considered.

Changes in moguls

  • Men: Medal contenders are 1-2-3 in World Cup. No change.
  • Women: No change, though Miki Ito (JPN) is trying to come back from a knee injury.

Changes in skicross

  • Men: Dave Duncan (CAN) up to silver, Andreas Matt (AUT) up to bronze, Chris Del Bosco (CAN) down to considered, Filip Flisar (SLO) down to considered
  • Women: Katrin Mueller (SUI) up to considered

Changes in slopestyle

  • Men: Waiting for U.S. team announcement to shake things up.
  • Women: Kaya Turski (CAN) is fighting a knee injury. Devin Logan (USA) up to considered

Changes in halfpipe

  • Men: Watching health of Torin Yater-Wallace (USA). Justin Dorey (CAN) up to considered.
  • Women: Roz Groenewoud (CAN) had — you guessed it — knee surgery. We’ll see how she recovers. Devin Logan (USA) up to considered — yes, in two events

Luge: They’ve run seven of nine World Cup events this season, so that should be enough to give us a clearer picture. Still a whole lot of Germany.

Changes

  • Men: David Möller (GER) up to silver, Dominik Fischnaller (ITA) up to bronze, Andi Langenhan (GER) down to considered, Chris Mazdzer (USA) up to considered
  • Women, doubles, relay: No change

Nordic combined: Most medal contenders are having solid seasons, particularly World Cup leader Eric Frenzel (GER) and Jason Lamy-Chappuis (FRA).

Changes

  • Normal hill: Mikko Kokslien (NOR) up to bronze, Bernhard Gruber (AUT) down to considered

Short-track speedskating: No change. We’ll keep an eye on the Euro championships and make sure all the picks are healthy, but the major pre-Sochi competitions are long complete.

Skeleton: Feeling a little more bullish on Matt Antoine (USA) but not quite moving him up into the medals.

Changes

  • Men: Tomass Dukurs (LAT) up to bronze, Frank Rommel (GER) down to considered
  • Women: Shelley Rudman (GBR) up to bronze, Marion Thees (GER) down to considered

Ski jumping: He used to look like Harry Potter. Then he looked like Trevor Horn. Now he’s back — Salt Lake/Vancouver champion Simon Ammann (SUI) was third in the Four Hills. And 40something Japanese jumper Noriaki Kasai is fourth in the World Cup. In women’s, we’re still holding out hope for the rehabbing Sarah Hendrickson (USA).

Changes

  • Men’s large hill: Simon Ammann (SUI) up to bronze, Noriaki Kasai (JPN) up to considered, Anders Jacobsen (NOR) down to considered
  • Women’s: Irina Avvakumova (RUS) up to bronze, Carina Vogt (GER) up to considered, Coline Mattel (FRA) down to considered

Snowboarding: Just did the picks 14 days ago; no point in changing anything until after the X Games.

Speedskating: These picks were also recent, and the European Allround Championships didn’t give us any reason to change.

No changes in curling or ice hockey, and no changes are likely unless we have a sudden wave of injuries or other changes.

Big winter weekend for USA

No, I’m not talking about the fact that every tree and power line in the Mid-Atlantic is covered with ice right now. I’m talking about skiing, sliding and skating, where a lot of things went right for U.S. athletes two months and change before Sochi:

– Figure skating: Meryl White and Charlie Davis are hardly a surprise in ice dancing, though they have tough rivals for gold in Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. But the record they set in winning the Grand Prix Final was a grand statement. (NBC)

Ashley Wagner also made it to the podium — perhaps all isn’t lost for the non-dancing U.S. skaters in this Olympic year after all. But she’s not totally happy with her skating, and rival Yuna Kim wasn’t at the Final. (NBC)

– Speedskating: 1-2 for Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe. Get used to it. (NBC) Shani Davis lost his win streak but took third, and Richardson took another podium place as well. (NBC) And there was a surprise win for Joey Mantia. (NBC)

– Bobsled: Yes, it was on a home track, but this was total domination. Steve Holcomb won his third and fourth straight races. The U.S. women finished 1-3-4 in one race and 1-2-2 in another, with Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams getting medals. (NBC with video of Day 1; NBC with video of Day 2; USA TODAY)

Skeleton: Noelle Pikus-Pace said “disqualify THIS” and won in Park City. Matt Antoine took third. (NBC with video)

– Luge: Chris Mazdzer won the first World Cup medal for a U.S. man since 2007.  (NBC)

– Alpine skiing: Ted Ligety, as usual, won the giant slalom. Bode Miller’s second place was a little less expected. (NBC with video; USA TODAY)

And Lindsey Vonn got partway back with each race — 40th, 11th, fifth. (NBC with video | USA TODAY)

Not all is well on the Alpine team — after Ligety, Miller, Vonn and slalom specialist Mikaela Shiffrin, the rest of the U.S. skiers haven’t been competitive. But this weekend might make my ongoing medal projections look conservative for the USA.

2014 medal projections: Alpine skiing

Updated Jan. 14 and Feb. 4

Lindsey Vonn is hurt. Tina Maze (Slovenia) dominated last year but hasn’t been as strong this year.

Here we go …

DOWNHILL

Men

Gold: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)
Silver: Erik Guay (Canada)
Bronze: Dominik Paris (Italy)

Also considered: Patrick Küng (Switzerland), Klaus Kröll (Austria), Bode Miller (USA), Christof Innerhofer (Italy), Adrien Theaux (France). Removed Hannes Reichelt (Austria), diagnosed with back injury just after a big win.

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Svindal, Reichelt, Küng, Guay, Theaux, Miller, Johan Clarey (France), Max Franz (Austria)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Svindal, Kroell, Paris, Innerhofer, Reichelt, Guay, Theaux, Georg Streitberger (Austria)

2013 World Championship top 8: Svindal, Paris, David Poisson (France), Kroell, Andreas Romar (Finland), Silvan Zurbriggen (Switzerland), Küng, Didier Defago (Switzerland)

2010 Olympic medalists: Defago, Svindal, Miller

Women

Gold: Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany)
Silver: Tina Maze (Slovenia)
Bronze: Tina Weirather (Liechtenstein)

Also considered: Lara Gut (Switzerland), Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (Switzerland), Julia Mancuso (USA)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Hoefl-Riesch, Weirather, Kaufmann-Abderhalden, Anna Fenninger (Austria), Maze, Gut, Elisabeth Goergl (Austria), Elena Fanchini (Italy)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Lindsey Vonn (USA), Maze, Hoefl-Riesch, Stacey Cook (USA), Gut, Weirather, Daniela Merighetti (Italy), Fenninger

2013 World Championship top 8: Marion Rolland (France), Nadia Fanchini (Italy), Hoefl-Riesch, Nadja Kamer (Switzerland), Mancuso, Cook, Maze, Andrea Fischbacher (Austria)

2010 Olympic medalists: Vonn, Mancuso, Goergl

SUPER-G

Men

Gold: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)
Silver: Matthias Mayer (Austria)
Bronze: Patrick Küng (Switzerland)

Also considered: Christof Innerhofer (Italy), Ted Ligety (USA), Matteo Marsaglia (Italy), Bode Miller (USA). Removed Hannes Reichelt (Austria), see above.

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Svindal, Didier Defago (Switzerland), Küng, Miller, Georg Streitberger (Austria), Otmar Striedinger (Austria), Jan Hudec (Canada), Kjetil Jansrud (Norway)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8 plus tie: Svindal, Marsaglia, Mayer, Werner Heel (Italy), Adrien Theaux (France), Reichelt, Ligety, Kjetil Jansrud (Norway), Joachim Puchner (Austria)

2013 World Championship top 8: Ligety, Gauthier de Tessieres (France), Svindal, Reichelt, Mayer, Alexis Pinturault (France), Innerhofer, Romed Baumann (Austria)

2010 Olympic medalists: Svindal, Miller, Andrew Weibrecht (USA)

Women

Gold: Anna Fenninger (Austria)
Silver: Tina Maze (Slovenia)
Bronze: Lara Gut (Switzerland)

Also considered: Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany), Julia Mancuso (USA), Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Gut, Tina Weirather (Liechtenstein), Fenninger, Elizabeth Goergl (Austria), Hoefl-Riesch, Nicole Hosp (Austria), Kajsa Kling (Sweden), Maze

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Maze, Mancuso, Fenninger, Lindsey Vonn (USA), Hoefl-Riesch, Rebensburg, Fabienne Suter (Switzerland), Nicole Schmidhofer (Austria)

2013 World Championship top 8: Maze, Gut, Mancuso, Sofia Goggia (Italy), Suter, Ilka Stuhec (Slovenia), Daniela Merighetti (Italy), Rebensburg

2010 Olympic medalists: Andrea Fischbacher (Austria), Maze, Vonn

GIANT SLALOM

Men

Gold: Ted Ligety (USA)
Silver: Marcel Hirscher (Austria)
Bronze: Alexis Pinturault (France)

Also considered: Manfred Moelgg (Italy), Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Hirscher, Pinturault, Ligety, Thomas Fanara (France), Felix Neureuther (Germany), Leif Kristian Haugen (Norway), Stefan Luitz (Germany), Fritz Dopfer (Germany)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Ligety, Hirscher, Pinturault, Moelgg, Fanara, Neureuther, Svindal, Marcus Sandell (Finland)

2013 World Championship top 8: Ligety, Hirscher, Moelgg, Svindal, Pinturault, Davide Simoncelli (Italy), Dopfer, Philipp Schoerghofer (Austria)

2010 Olympic medalists: Carlo Janka (Switzerland), Kjetil Jansrud (Norway), Svindal

Women

Gold: Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (Sweden)
Silver: Anna Fenninger (Austria)
Bronze: Lara Gut (Switzerland)

Also considered: Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany), Tina Maze (Slovenia), Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany), Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), Kathrin Zettel (Austria). Removed Tessa Worley (France), who is injured

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Lindell-Vikarby, Maria Pietilae-Holmner (Sweden), Tina Weirather (Liechtenstein), Fenninger, Zettel, Shiffrin, Gut, Anemone Marmottan (France)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Maze, Fenninger, Rebensburg, Worley, Zettel, Hoefl-Riesch, Gut, Lindell-Vikarby

2013 World Championship top 8: Worley, Maze, Fenninger, Zettel, Frida Hansdotter (Sweden), Shiffrin, Gut, Marie-Michele Gagnon (Canada)

2010 Olympic medalists: Rebensburg, Maze, Elisabeth Goergl (Austria)

SLALOM

Men

Gold: Marcel Hirscher (Austria)
Silver: Mario Matt (Austria)
Bronze: Felix Neureuther (Germany)

Also considered: Ivica Kostelic (Croatia), Andre Myhrer (Sweden)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Hirscher, Henrik Kristoffersen (Norway), Neureuther, Mattias Hargin (Sweden), Patrick Thaler (Italy), Matt, Myhrer, Jean-Baptiste Grange (France)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Hirscher, Neureuther, Kostelic, Myhrer, Manfred Moelgg (Germany), Matt, Fritz Dopfer (Germany), Jens Byggmark (Sweden)

2013 World Championship top 8: Hirscher, Neureuther, Matt, Myhrer, Kostelic, Alexis Pinturault (France), Dopfer, Byggmark

2010 Olympic medalists: Giuliano Razzoli (Italy), Kostelic, Myhrer

Women

Gold: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
Silver: Marlies Schild (Austria)
Bronze: Frida Hansdotter (Sweden)

Also considered: Tina Maze (Slovenia), Tanja Poutiainen (Finland), Kathrin Zettel (Austria). Removed Veronika Velez Zuzulova (Slovakia), who is injured.

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (so far): Shiffrin, Hansdotter, Schild, Marie-Michele Gagnon (Canada), Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany), Maria Pietilae-Holmner (Sweden), Bernadette Schild (Austria), Nina Loeseth (Norway)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Shiffrin, Maze, Zuzulova, Hansdotter, Poutiainen, Wendy Holdener (Switzerland), Maria Pietilae-Holmner (Sweden), Zettel

2013 World Championship top 8: Shiffrin, Michaela Kirchgasser (Austria), Hansdotter, Poutiainen, Maze, Pietilae-Holmner, Velez Zuzulova, Sarka Zahrobska (Czech Republic)

2010 Olympic medalists: Hoefl-Riesch, M. Schild, Zahrobska

COMBINED

Men

Gold: Alexis Pinturault (France)
Silver: Ted Ligety (USA)
Bronze: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)

Also considered: Romed Baumann (Austria), Carlo Janka (Switzerland), Ivica Kostelic (Croatia), Bode Miller (USA)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (two events so far): Pinturault and Ligety tie, Thomas Mermillod Blondin (France), Sandro Viletta (Switzerland), Mario Caviezel (Switzerland), Peter Fill (France), Marcel Hirscher (Austria)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8 (limited competition): Kostelic and Pinturault tie, Blondin, Janka, Svindal, Baumann, Andreas Romar (Finland), Benjamin Raich (Austria)

2013 World Championship top 8: Ligety, Kostelic, Baumann, Romar, Villetta, Pinturault, Silvan Zurbriggen (Switzerland), Janka

2010 Olympic medalists: Miller, Kostelic, Zurbriggen

Women

Gold: Tina Maze (Slovenia)
Silver: Nicole Hosp (Austria)
Bronze: Michaela Kirchgasser (Austria)

Also considered: Marie-Michele Gagnon (Canada), Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany), Julia Mancuso (USA), Kathrin Zettel (Austria)

World Cup 2013-14 top 8 (1 event so far): Marie-Michele Gagnon (Canada), Michaela Kirchgasser (Austria), Hoefl-Riesch, Hosp, Sara Hector (Sweden), Maze, Ramona Siebenhofer (Austria), Anna Fenninger (Austria)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Maze, Hosp, Kirchgasser, Lara Gut (Switzerland), Gagnon, Mancuso, Elena Curtoni (Italy), Zettel

2013 World Championship top 8: Hoefl-Riesch, Maze, Hosp, Kirchgasser, Zettel, Elisabeth Goergl (Austria), Sofia Goggia (Italy), Mancuso

2010 Olympic medalists: Hoefl-Riesch, Mancuso, Anja Paerson (Sweden; retired)

BIOS

Men

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup overall: Marcel Hirscher (Austria), Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway), Ted Ligety (USA), Felix Neureuther (Germany), Ivica Kostelic (Croatia)

All-around

Kjetil Jansrud (Norway): Leans toward speed events but took 2010 silver in GS. Lots of DNFs in worlds, lots of injuries.

Ivica Kostelic (Croatia): Perhaps a little more of a slalom specialist — silver medalist in 2010 and world champion in 2003. Also won World Cup slalom title in 2011, the same year he won the overall, and has been in the top five for six straight years. But he does have an overall World Cup to his credit and is the most consistent skier in the combined: silver medalist in 2002 and 2010, and again in 2013 worlds. He also took third place in super-G in both the World Cup and World Championship in 2011.

Bode Miller (USA): 2005 and 2008 overall World Cup champion tossed aside disappointing 2006 Olympics with gold (combined), silver (super-G) and bronze (downhill) in 2010, adding to his GS and combined silvers from 2002. He won three medals (giant slalom and combined gold, super-G silver) in 2003 worlds and swept the speed events in 2005. But he’s 36 and trying to rebound from injuries.

Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway): Why isn’t this guy more famous? Two-time overall World Cup champion (2007, 2009), three Olympic medals in 2010 (super-G gold, downhill silver, GS bronze), five world championships (two combined, two downhill, one GS; in 2013: downhill gold and super-G bronze). Won World Cup super-G title in 2006, 2009, 2012, 2013. Also won downhill World Cup title in 2013. Aside from injury year of 2007-08, he has been in the overall World Cup top four for seven of the past eight years. He even dated American Julia Mancuso for several years, and they broke up gracefully. Learn the name, OK?

Alexis Pinturault (France). One of those jack-of-all-trades guys who is therefore most dangerous in combined, an event that demands versatility. Only 22 – this will be his first time at the Olympics. First and second in the two combined races on the 2012-13 World Cup calendar. Third in 2012-13 World Cup GS. Good in slalom, best in GS, solid all-around.

Speed events

Didier Defago (Switzerland): Defending Olympic downhill champion but missed the next season with a knee injury. He’s now 36 years old and has no World Cup podiums since 2011. Eighth in downhill at 2013 worlds.

Erik Guay (Canada): 2011 world downhill champion and 2009-10 World Cup super-G champion. Sixth in 2012-13 World Cup downhill.

Christof Innerhofer (Italy): Had a career week at the 2011 World Championships: super-G gold, combined silver, downhill bronze. Three World Cup downhill wins in 2012-13.

Klaus Kroell (Austria): 33-year-old speed specialist won 2011-12 World Cup season downhill title and finished second in 2012-13, making it four of five years on the podium. Fourth in 2013 worlds (downhill).

Matteo Marsaglia (Italy): Second in 2012-13 World Cup super-G, mostly on the strength of one win and one runner-up finish. Not much else to report.

Matthias Mayer (Austria): Only 23. Third in 2012-13 World Cup super-G. Fifth in 2013 worlds super-G.

Dominik Paris (Italy): Youngest medalist (silver) in 2013 world championship downhill. Third in 2012-13 World Cup downhill.

David Poisson (France): Surprise bronze medalist at 2013 worlds downhill. Seriously. He was 30, and he had never been on a World Cup podium, though he was fourth at Kitzbuhel in 2013.

Hannes Reichelt (Austria): Fourth in World Cup downhill in 2011-12; fifth (one win) in 2012-13. A little more successful in super-G: World Cup champion in 2008, silver in 2011 worlds.

Super-G/giant slalom

Ted Ligety (USA): Dominant in GS: World Cup champion four of the past six years. 2012-13: Won six of eight World Cup GS races, plus a successful defense of his world championship. Also the 2013 super-G world champion, but that was his only super-G podium of the year. Not great in World Cup combined events, but he comes up big in the big events – 2006 Olympic gold and 2013 world championship. The 2010 Games, though, were a washout for him.

Gauthier de Tessieres (France): Exactly one World Cup podium, and that’s in GS. Then 2013 world super-G runner-up.

Giant slalom/slalom

Marcel Hirscher (Austria): He has won the last two overall World Cups while getting nearly all his points in slalom and giant slalom. In 11 World Cup slaloms and “city events” (slalom-ish races) last season, he finished first five times, second five times and third in the other. And he’s the reigning world champion. He’s just fine at GS, winning the 2011-12 season title, but he’s typically chasing Ligety.

Carlo Janka (Switzerland): 2010 GS gold medalist and 2010 overall World Cup champion. Needed heart surgery in 2011 and still finished third in overall World Cup, but he hasn’t returned to that level since.

Manfred Moelgg (Italy): Third in 2013 worlds GS; fourth in 2012-13 World Cup GS. Best season was 2007-08: Fourth overall, first in slalom, third in GS. Three World Championship medals: 2007 slalom silver, 2011 slalom bronze, 2013 GS bronze.

Felix Neureuther (Germany): Finally hit World Cup stride near age 30, with his overall fourth place in 2013 up 13 places from his previous best of 17th. Second in World Cup slalom and world championship slalom, first podium in each. Only finished one of four Olympic races (slalom/GS, 2006/2010), placing eighth in 2010 GS.

Mostly slalom

Mario Matt (Austria): Top 8 in World Cup 11 of the last 14 years. Missed 2010 Games. 2001 (yes, 2001) and 2007 world champion. Fourth in 2011 worlds, bronze in 2013. Once won a World Cup combined race and once took a world championship medal in the same event, but he’s pretty much all slalom these days.

Andre Myhrer (Sweden): 2010 bronze medalist; fourth in World Cup and World Championship in 2013. World Cup slalom champion in 2012.

Giuliano Razzoli (Italy): 2010 gold medalist. Never finished at worlds. Seven World Cup podiums; two wins.

Women

Top five, 2012-13 World Cup overall: Tina Maze (Slovenia, with a record 2,414 points), Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany), Anna Menninger (Austria), Julia Mancuso (USA), Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)

The big 3, all-around

Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany): Overall World Cup champion in 2011, dethroning old friend Lindsey Vonn after two years as runner-up. Vonn and Tina Maze passed her in 2012, and Maze ran away in 2013. She still had five podium finishes — three downhill, one super-G and a slalom win — and won the World Championship combined. She won two gold medals (slalom, combined) in 2010. Legit accomplishments in all five disciplines.

Tina Maze (Slovenia): Her gradual improvement in the World Cup overall — sixth in 2009, then fourth, third, second and first — makes sense. Racking up 2,414 points, even with Lindsey Vonn absent for much of the season, is unreal. She would have swept all four disciplines if not for those pesky Americans — Vonn held on by one point in downhill, Mikaela Shiffrin took the slalom. She won 11 races (at least one in each discipline) and reached the podium 24 times. She only missed the top five in four races, all early in the season. She has six World Championship medals and two wins. And two Olympic silver medals (super-G, giant slalom) from 2010. All she needs is gold.

Lindsey Vonn (USA): Alternating gruesome crashes and fantastic seasons. Four-time overall World Cup champion, 2008-10 and 2012. Olympic frustration (injury woes in 2006 and 2010) ended in 2010 with downhill gold and super-G bronze. She won both of those events in 2009 worlds and took downhill silver in 2011. In combined, she has been on the podium in 11 of her past 15 World Cup events. She’ll miss the beginning of the World Cup season but should be ready to go in Sochi.

More all-around (super-G/GS)

Anna Fenninger (Austria): Third overall in 2012-13, second in GS, third in super-G. Fifth overall in 2011-12. Combined world champion in 2011; third in GS in 2013.

Elisabeth Goergl (Austria): Top 10 overall five straight years (2007-08 to 2011-12), with season podium finishes in downhill, GS and super-G. Turned it on in Whistler 2010 – bronze in downhill and GS, fifth in super-G, seventh in slalom. Then won 2011 World Championships in downhill and super-G.

Lara Gut (Switzerland): Best season in 2012-13 at age 21: ninth overall, fifth in downhill, sixth in GS. Two World Championships silvers (downhill, combined) at age 17 in 2009. Two fourths in 2011, then second in super-G in 2013. Hasn’t yet raced in Olympics, missing 2010 with injury. Won 2013-14 season opener GS.

Nicole Hosp (Austria): 2006-07 overall World Cup champion, second the next year. Great 2006 Olympics: slalom silver, fourth in GS, fifth combined. Injured in 2010, missed Games. Five World Championship medals, bronze in 2013 combined.

Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany): World Cup giant slalom winner in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Slipped to third in 2012-13 but picked up points elsewhere, many in super-G, to finish sixth overall. GS gold medalist in 2010, but not much success in World Championships.

Speed specialists

Stacey Cook (USA): Breakthrough season in 2012-13, fourth in downhill standings with two podium finishes.

Nadia Fanchini (Italy): Best World Cup year: 2008-09, second in super-G, fifth in downhill. Only one World Cup win, hasn’t been podium since January 2010, when she suffered dual injuries and missed the Olympics. But she’s a classic overachiever at World Championships: 2005 super-G fourth, 2009 downhill bronze and then back in 2013 for downhill silver.

Andrea Fischbacher (Austria): Second in World Cup downhill in 2008-09, bronze in 2009 worlds super-G, then the big one in 2010: gold medalist in downhill and fourth in super-G. No podium finishes since then.

Sofia Goggia (Italy): Had only four World Cup starts, all DNF or failures to qualify in GS, before the 2013 World Championships. Then finished fourth in super-G, seventh in combined at age 20.

Julia Mancuso (USA): Gets plenty of Cup points in GS and slalom, with GS and combined points propelling her to third overall in 2006-07. But she does her best work in speed events — third in super-G and downhill (fifth overall) in 2010-11, then second in super-G (fourth overall) each of the past two seasons. Then she dials it up for big events — a stunning giant slalom gold in the 2006 Olympics, silver in downhill and combined in 2010, plus five World Championship medals (super-G: 2011 silver, 2013 bronze).

Marion Rolland (France): DNF only Olympic race, 2010 downhill. Only two World Cup podiums, on same weekend in March 2012. Stunning World Championship victory in 2013 downhill.

Giant slalom/slalom

Michaela Kirchgasser (Austria): Second in World Cup slalom 2011-12. Second in World Championship slalom 2013.

Tanja Poutiainen (Finland): Slipped from her 2005 peak, when she won the slalom and GS World Cup titles and finished fifth overall. But she finished on the World Cup podium in each event in 2011 and was fifth in slalom in 2013. GS silver medalist in 2006. World Championships: Silver in slalom and GS in 2005, bronze in each event in 2009, fourth in slalom in 2013.

Tessa Worley (France): Essentially a GS specialist: 2013 world champion, 2011 bronze medalist. World Cup: second, third and fourth the last three years. Injured in December 2013; will miss Games.

Kathrin Zettel (Austria): Best World Cup years were 2008-09 (fourth overall, second in GS) and 2009-10 (fifth overall, second in GS and slalom). Solid seventh overall in 2012-13, fifth in GS. Fourth in combined in 2006 and 2010 Olympics. 2009 combined world champion; second in slalom in 2011. Remarkably consistent at worlds: 13 races, seven top-5s, 11 top-10s. Seven podiums in 2012-13: three slalom, three GS, one combined.

Mostly slalom

Frida Hansdotter (Sweden): Fourth in World Cup slalom 2012-13, third in World Championships.

Marlies Schild (Austria): World Cup slalom champ four of five years ending 2011-12. Injured in 2008-09 and 2012-13. Three Olympic medals: combined silver and slalom bronze in 2006, slalom silver in 2010. Five World Championship medals, slalom gold in 2011.

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA): World slalom champion at 17; clinched World Cup slalom title just after 18th birthday. In nine World Cup slaloms last season: Four wins, six podiums. Also picked up some GS points for fifth place overall.