Crystal ball sees success for American women
Tiger Woods had an 8 on No. 15 at TPC Scottsdale during the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Friday. I've gotten an 8 on that hole, so that's really bad news for Tiger. Many refer to Lindsey Vonn as Tiger's girlfriend. Leaving aside the sexist view of this — we don't care with whom Ted Ligety, Andrew Weibrecht, Travis Ganong, Steve Nyman or Bode Miller are dating/married — there's the athletic viewpoint. Right now, Tiger is Vonn's boyfriend. As the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships come to town, it's time to appreciate Vonn's greatness. This is going to be her showcase. When she was battling back the first time from her blown up right knee, she ended up missing the Raptor test event in 2013 and the 2014 Winter Olympics. The tiger is ready to go, and, by tiger, we ain't talking about the golfer. The picks for the women at the Championships: Super-G (Tuesday) Good trivia: Who's the only woman to win a super-G on Birds of Prey? (This is Birds of Prey, not Raptor, so the answer is not Lara Gut, of Switzerland.) Yep, Vonn. When Europe didn't have any snow, a super-G got moved here, and the women took to Birds of Prey, without Golden Eagle Jump. (I was the unfortunate one to be the bearer of that news. She wanted to do that, too. Good thing she didn't take it out on the messenger.) Yes, Raptor is a different course, but the pressure is the constant in this experiment. Everyone expected her to win that day in 2011, and she did without her best race. The results, and there is a big enough sample, indicate her knee is just fine. She's won the last two super-Gs in the World Cup. Make it three. Gold: Vonn, USA Silver: Gut, Switzerland Bronze: Anna Fenninger, Austria Downhill (Friday) It is worth noting that there are a bunch of really good skiers out there, whose names are not Lindsey Vonn. Gut has had success on Raptor. Fenninger is on her way to becoming the next Austrian great. The person who could be the real party-pooper from an American/Vonn perspective is Tina Maze. Barring something strange, Maze will win the overall World Cup title this year. She leads Fenninger, 985-801, and the two closest pursuers after that are Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, both of whom aren't participating in all four disciplines. I'm writing this merely as insurance in the case that Maze busts out and newspapers everywhere run with the headline, "A-Maze-ing." Gold: Vonn, USA Silver: Maze, Slovenia Bronze: Fenninger, Austria Super-combined (Feb. 9) OK, I went back and forth on the men's combined. This is a no-brainer. Maze. There's a reason she's the overall leader. She does everything well. What's more, there are 45 women who have competed in the downhill this season, and only two of them have points in the slalom. Wanna guess who's one of them? Maze's fourth in the downhill with 246 points and third in the slalom with 374. Austria's Nicole Hosp is the other. Julia Mancuso grabs bronze just because she always snags a medal at Worlds. Gold: Maze, Slovenia Silver: Hosp, Austria Bronze: Mancuso, USA Giant slalom (Feb. 12) The Vonn-Mikaela Shiffrin comparison is odious. It's not fair to Mikaela for her to be "The Next Lindsey Vonn." It's also not correct. A better comparison is Mikaela and Bode Miller with Mikaela being a slightly more thoughtful and tactful person. Vonn started in speed and has always been about speed, though, to her credit, she's won three giant slaloms and two slaloms. Miller started as a tech skier and then grew through all the disciplines, which seems to be Shiffrin's course. Now as to GS, everyone wants to see her strike gold here. She'll medal, but not the top step. We've just got to remember that, despite home snow, there are a lot of good racers out there. Gold: Fenninger, Austria Silver: Maze, Slovenia Bronze: Shiffrin, USA Slalom (Feb. 14) None of this is to say that Shiffrin won't be leaving Beaver Creek without a gold. Gold: Shiffrin, USA Silver: Frida Hansdotter, Sweden Bronze: Kathrin Zettel, Austria Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.