- Alpine Skiing
Alpine skiing preview: Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch the favorite in women's super-combined
Here is a look at what to expect in the women’s super-combined at the Sochi Olympics:
As the reigning Olympic champion and the World Cup skier with the most downhill speed and technical acumen, it stands to reason that Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch would head to Sochi as the gold-medal favorite in super-combined. In the one and only World Cup super-combined prior to the Games, Hoefl-Riesch finished third in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee on Jan. 12, a result that doesn’t accurately reflect how good her slalom run was relative to how little training time she gets while racing all five disciplines. A gold medal in Sochi would make the 29-year-old the second skier in history to win back-to-back Olympic titles in combined after Croatia’s Janica Kostelic (2002-06).
Tina Maze: For reasons quite similar to Hoefl-Riesch, the Slovenian is hard to discount in a combined event as one of the few skiers who possess World Cup podium speed in both the downhill and the slalom. Three of her 22 career victories have come in super-combined. In the World Cup super-combined in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Maze finished sixth. Her season-long struggles – she has just one victory and four podiums across all five disciplines following her record-breaking last season –would seem most likely to end here.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Alpine skiing: Top 10 Sochi contenders - Women's super-combined
Marie Michele-Gagnon: The Canadian unexpectedly scored her first career World Cup victory in the super-combined in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee. Her recipe for success was simply to stay close to the leaders in the downhill and then exploit her strengths in the second slalom run. It’s a tactic that could very well land her Canada’s first Olympic medal since 1992 when Kerrin Lee-Gartner won the downhill in Albertville.
Nicole Hosp: A versatile all-around racer, the Austrian has won World Cup races in four of the five alpine skiing disciplines, just a downhill win short of joining Maze, Lindsey Vonn of the U.S, Anja Paerson and Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden, Janica Kostelic of Croatia, and Petra Kronberg of Austria as women to pull off the sweep. In 17 career World Cup super-combined starts since 2006, she has found the podium seven times. Hosp finished fourth in the lone combi this season in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee.
Michaela Kirchgasser: Since winning silver at the 2003 Junior World Championships, the Austrian has showed strong combined ability. That has manifested itself on the World Cup circuit where she has finished third in the super-combined season standings twice, including in 2013. Her last two podium finishes have been in super-combined, including a runner-up to Gagnon in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee this season. A podium finish in Sochi would enable her to join cousins Andrea Fischbacher and Hermann Maier as Olympic medalists in the family.
The top American
With Lindsey Vonn sidelined from Sochi with a knee injury, Julia Mancuso is left carrying the torch as the best American medal chance in the super-combined. The Vancouver medalist skied out in the first run of the World Cup race in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, but it would be difficult to read much into that as 18 other skiers also failed to finish that tricky opening super-G. Mancuso has three podium finishes, including one victory, in super-combined races in her World Cup career.
Best of Day 3