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2014 Sochi Olympics: A preview of the Winter Games

A capsulized look at each of the 15 disciplines, including best of the U.S., best of the rest and American medal chances.

February 06, 2014|From staff reports
  • American veteran Julia Mancuso will attempt to medal again in multiple Alpine events. She has three Olympic medals, including a gold, on her resume.
American veteran Julia Mancuso will attempt to medal again in multiple… (Alain Grosclaude / Agence…)

A capsulized look at each of the 15 disciplines, including best of the U.S., best of the rest and American medal chances.

Alpine Skiing

Men's Downhill

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 9

Best of U.S.: Bode Miller, Travis Ganong, Marco Sullivan, Erik Fisher

Best of the rest: Aksel-Lund Svindal (Norway), Adrien Theaux (France), Didier Defago (Switzerland), Carlo Janka (Switzerland)

U.S. chances to medal: Miller (36) is defying Father Time. He won Olympic bronze four years ago at Vancouver and recently finished third at the famed Kitzbuehel downhill in Austria. Miller's Olympics odds increased now that Austrian Hannes Reichelt, the winner at Kitzbuehel, will miss Sochi with a back injury.

Little-known fact: American Tommy Moe never won another World Cup downhill after claiming Olympic gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

Women's Downhill

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 12

Best of the U.S.: Julia Mancuso, Stacey Cook

Best of the rest: Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany), Tina Maze (Slovenia), Lara Gut (Switzerland)

U.S. chances to medal: The injury to defending Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn opens it up for Mancuso, who won silver behind Vonn in Vancouver. Mancuso has only seven World Cup wins (Vonn has 59) but is a big-stage performer with three Olympic medals (gold, two silver).

Little-known fact: Most racers in the finish area conceded the 2010 downhill gold to Mancuso after she scorched her run from the No. 10 position, only to be outdone by teammate Vonn from the No. 16 position.

Men's Super combined

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 14.

Best of the U.S.: Ted Ligety, Bode Miller

Best of the rest: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway), Alexis Pinturault (France), Marcel Hirscher (Austria)

U.S. chances to medal: Pretty good, given Ligety won combined gold in 2006 at Turin and Miller won four years ago in Vancouver. Ligety probably has the advantage because he's more likely than Miller to survive two slalom runs.

Little-known fact: All the combined events, a shortened downhill and two slalom runs, are now on the same day. In 1994, won by Norway's Lasse Kjus, the slalom was raced 11 days after the downhill.

Women's Super combined

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 10

Best of the U.S.: Julia Mancuso, Laurenne Ross

Best of the rest: Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Austria), Marie-Michele Gagnon (Canada), Tina Maze (Slovenia)

U.S. chances to medal: Mancuso came from nowhere in 2010 to win silver behind Riesch after race-favorite Vonn skied out in slalom after winning the morning downhill. Ross is a steady U.S. veteran with six World Cup top-20 finishes in super combined.

Little-known fact: Mancuso, not Vonn or Picabo Street, is the United States' most accomplished female Olympic skier. Mancuso has three Olympic medals while Vonn and Street each have two.

Men's Super G

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 16

Best of the U.S.: Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Travis Ganong

Best of the rest: Aksel-Lund Svindal (Norway), Patrick Kueng (Switzerland), Jan Hudec (Canada)

U.S. chances to medal: Miller won silver behind Svindal's gold in Vancouver and just missed a super G win recently in Kitzbuehel. Ligety is the defending world champion but has never won the race on a World Cup stop. Andrew "The Warhorse" Weibrecht, a shocking bronze medalist in Vancouver, has not come close to replicating that form.

Little-known fact: Former Austrian great Hermann Maier never won the Olympic downhill but is considered the greatest super G racer in alpine history. He won the event 24 times on the World Cup and also Olympic gold in 1998.

Women's Super G

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 15

Best of the U.S.: Julia Mancuso, Stacey Cook, Leanne Smith

Best of the rest: Lara Gut (Switzerland), Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Austria).

U.S. chances to medal: Lindsey Vonn being out means opportunities for Mancuso and Cook, who have both posted recent top-10 finishes in World Cup. Mancuso also finished third in super G at last year's World Championships in Austria.

Little-known fact: Picabo Street won the super G gold at the 1998 Nagano by .01 over Austria's Michaela Dorfmeister — the narrowest margin in Olympic alpine history.

Men's giant slalom

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 19

Best of the U.S.: Ted Ligety, Bode Miller

Best of the rest: Marcel Hirscher (Austria), Alexis Pinturault (France)

U.S. chances to medal: Ligety is the closest to a sure thing, although he finished ninth as the favorite four years ago. Nineteen of Ligety's 20 World Cup wins are in GS. He is the defending GS world champion and a four-time World Cup event cup winner. Miller won GS silver in 2002, but at 36 is more likely now to hook a gate and DQ.

Little-known fact: In 2012, Ligety won a World Cup GS race by 2.75 seconds, the largest winning margin since Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark's 4.06 second win in 1979 at Jasna, Slovakia.

Women's giant slalom

Where: Rosa Khutor Alpine Center

When: Feb. 18

Best of the U.S.: Julia Mancuso, Mikaela Shiffrin

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