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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Austria have monopolized the podium at the alpine ski world championships and will try to underscore their status as the sport's superpower when they join forces in Tuesday's team event.
With six medals from six events, including three golds, the mighty Austrians have ruled the Beaver Creek slopes but head to Vail looking to defend the team title they won on home snow at the 2013 worlds in Schladming.
Introduced into the championship program in 2005, Austria are the only nation to medal in the team event at every worlds and will be a red-hot favorite to add to that collection at Golden Peak Stadium.
While the team event is not yet on the Olympic schedule that could soon change in time for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
"We are discussing the program for 2018 and already for 2022 with FIS and you may have some good news in the next couple of months," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said during a visit to the championships. "I hope very much we can finalize this together with FIS before the IOC session in Kuala Lumpur in July."
The competition will feature the 16 top-ranked nations in a knockout format with skiers going head-to-head on a parallel slalom course.
Each country is allowed a maximum of six skiers (at least two women) with four taking part in each round with the top-seeded nation facing the lowest seed.
Austria topped the podium in 2013 and 2007 while Germany grabbed gold in 2005 and France in 2011. The event was not held in 2009 due to bad weather.
Sweden has won three team medals, silvers in 2013 and 2007 and bronze in 2011.
Editing by Frank Pingue