Event guide: From skiing to figure skating

February 11, 2010|By Tribune Newspapers

Alpine skiing
Whistler

DOWNHILL

Men, Feb. 13; Women, Feb. 17

Best of U.S.: Lindsey Vonn has won five of the six women's World Cup downhill races and may be the most prohibitive favorite in Winter Olympics history. She has 31 World Cup victories but is seeking her first Olympic medal. That goal has been thrown in doubt by a shin bruise that could effect her performances – or even keep her out of the Games. Julia Mancuso ranks No. 9 in the world with two top-10 finishes. Bode Miller, who missed a men's downhill medal in Italy four years ago by 0.11 seconds, has rejoined the U.S. team and may be rounding into form.

Best of the rest: Vonn's biggest challenger will be close friend Maria Riesch of Germany. And don't count out Swedish superstar Anja Paerson. In the men's race, Switzerland boasts the 1-2 punch of Didier Cuche, who recently won the famed Hahnenkamm in Austria, and Carlo Janka. Cuche will ski with seven screws and a plate protecting the right thumb he injured in a late January crash. Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Canada has the home-mountain advantage.

Predictions

Men: 1. Osborne-Paradis, Canada; 2. Janka, Switzerland; 3. Miller, U.S.

Women: 1. Vonn, U.S.; 2. Riesch, Germany; 3. Paerson, Sweden.

SUPER COMBINED

Men, Feb. 17; Women, Feb. 14

Best of U.S.: Ted Ligety won gold four years ago in Italy, but the Olympic format has been switched to a downhill and only one slalom run, which should benefit the speed skiers.

Best of the rest: Austria's Benjamin Raich would have won in 2006 had he not skied out in the slalom 15 seconds from the finish line. Croatia's Ivica Kostelic is also a strong contender.

Predictions

Men: 1. Miller, U.S.; 2. Kostelic, Croatia; 3. Raich, Austria.

Women: 1. Paerson, Sweden. 2. Riesch, Germany; 3. Vonn, U.S.

SUPER-GIANT SLALOM

Men, Feb. 19; Women, Feb. 20

Best of U.S.: It's Vonn's to lose. She already has clinched the World Cup event title, and her last victory was the super-G in St. Moritz. The only other remotely ranking American is Mancuso at No. 20.

Best of the rest: Austria's Elisabeth Goergl and Switzerland's Fraenzi Aufdenblatten are Vonn's top challengers. The retirement of super-G stars Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway and Hermann Maier of Austria leaves the men's field open for Norway's Aksel-Lund Svindal, Austria's Michael Walchhofer or Canada's Erik Guay or Osborne-Paradis.

Predictions

Men: 1. Svindal, Norway; 2. Walchhofer, Austria; 3. Guay, Canada.

Women: 1. Vonn, U.S.; 2. Goergl, Austria; 3. Aufdenblatten, Switzerland.

GIANT SLALOM

Men, Feb. 21; Women, Feb. 24

Best in U.S.: Ligety leads the World Cup rankings and won the GS title in 2008. Mancuso was a gold medalist four years ago but has no top-10 finishes this season.

Best of the rest: Austria's Raich is the defending Olympic champion, but teammate Marcel Hirscher is the only racer with two GS wins this season.

Predictions

Men: 1. Ligety, U.S.; 2. Hirscher, Austria; 3. Raich, Austria.

Women: 1. Kathrin Hoelzl, Germany; 2. Kathrin Zettel, Austria; 3. Tanja Poutiainen, Finland.

SLALOM

Men, Feb. 27; Women, Feb. 26

Best in U.S.: Slim hopes probably rest with Jimmy Cochran or Ligety. Vonn's arm injury leaves her medal hopes a mystery.

Best of the rest: Austria swept this event in Turin. Reinfried Herbst has four slalom victories this year - three more than any racer. Pencil in Germany's Riesch for the women's gold.

Predictions

Men: 1. Herbst, Austria; 2. Kostelic, Croatia; 3. Raich, Austria.

Women: 1. Riesch, Germany; 2. Zettel, Austria; 3. Sandrine Aubert, France.

- Chris Dufresne

Biathlon
Whistler Olympic Park

Feb. 13-26

Best of U.S.: Tim Burke this season became the first U.S. biathlete to wear the World Cup overall leader jersey and has made three World Cup podiums. Jay Hakkinen's 10th in the 20km at Turin was the best U.S. finish in an individual race.

Best of the rest: Five-time Olympian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway is unquestionably the greatest biathlete ever, with nine Olympic medals (five gold) and an astonishing 32 world championship medals (13 gold). Suspicions of doping haunt top Russian and Austrian athletes. Russia's Olga Medvetseva is back after being nabbed in 2006. Watch for a possible Chinese surprise in the women's relay.

Predictions

Women's 7.5km sprint: 1. Helena Jonsson, Sweden; 2. Medvetseva, Russia; 3. Magdalena Neuner, Germany.

Men's 10km sprint: 1. Emil Hegle Svendsen, Norway; 2. Bjoerndalen, Norway; 3. Michael Greis, Germany.

Women's 10km pursuit: 1. Neuner, Germany; 2. Jonsson, Sweden; 3. Svetlana Sleptsova, Russia.

Men's 10km pursuit: 1. Bjoerndalen, Norway; 2. Svendsen, Norway; 3. Evgeny Ustyugov, Russia.

Women's 15km individual: 1. Jonsson, Sweden; 2. Kati Wilhelm, Germany; 3. Neuner, Germany.

Men's 20km individual: 1. Christoph Sumann, Austria; 2. Simon Fourcade, France; 3. Tim Burke, U.S.

Men's 15km mass start: 1. Bjoerndalen, Norway; 2. Svendsen, Norway; 3. Ustyugov, Russia.

Women's 12.5km mass start: 1. Andrea Henkel, Germany; 2. Jonsson, Sweden; 3. Neuner, Germany.

Women's 4x6km relay: 1. Germany; 2. Russia; 3. Sweden.

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