Alpine skiing: Time for favorites to stand up in the slaloms

Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:12am EST
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By Martyn Herman

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - American Ted Ligety regards himself as one of the favorites for Wednesday's men's giant slalom which, judging by events so far in the Caucasus mountains, means he is in for some disappointment.

From the moment spiky-haired Austrian Matthias Mayer set the cat amongst the pigeons with a surprise gold in the men's downhill, the shocks have come thick and fast on Rosa Khutor's Olympic pistes.

Swiss Dominique Gisin, without even a sniff of a World Cup podium all season, came from nowhere to share gold after an unprecedented dead heat with Tina Maze in the women's downhill.

Her similarly obscure compatriot Sandro Viletta eclipsed the likes of Ligety, Bode Miller and Aksel Lund Svindal to win the men's super-combined and on Sunday Norway's Kjetil Jansrud claimed a thrilling victory in the super-G.

While German favorite Maria Hoefl-Riesch nailed the women's super combined and Austria's Anna Fenninger finally got her skis running to win the super-G, the most predictable aspect of the first week of racing has been the Spring-like sunshine.

Course workers battled manfully to stop the slopes turning to slush during the speed events and Olympic organizers were breathing a sigh of relief on Sunday when the they were completed in the nick of time before fog rolled in.

The focus is now on the technical events which start on Tuesday with the women's giant slalom, followed by the men's on Wednesday. The Olympic program concludes with the slaloms in which Mikaela Shiffrin and Marcel Hirscher should shine.

With snow and weather conditions unlikely to play such a role from now on in, it could be time for the favorites to restore some order to proceedings.   Continued...

Bode Miller of the U.S. is surrounded by the media during the slalom run of the men's alpine skiing super combined event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini