Here we go with the women’s slalom race | VailDaily.com

Here we go with the women’s slalom race

So, when it was announced in 2010 that the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships were coming here in 2015, Mikaela Shiffrin was 14.

Very few people had heard of her because she was still one year away from making her World Cup debut.

Both of those sentences amaze and depress me. After all, most kids at age 14 or 15 are going to high school, not starting a career.

Madame Shiffrin, at the weary age of 19, and turning an elderly 20 next month, already has a resume for the ages. It now includes:

• Two World Cup slalom titles.

• Twelve career World Cup wins.

• A World Championships gold in slalom.

• An Olympic gold in slalom.

Just take a moment to think about what you had done by the time you were 19 year old. Um, learned how to do a keg stand in college maybe?

And so we come to the women’s slalom today at 10:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., where Madame Shiffrin will be the crowd’s choice and is certainly among the favorites.

Shiffrin (bib No. 2) started the season by finishing — gasp — 11th in the Levi, Finland, slalom. It was really funny to see the sturm und drang after that finish. It was just one race.

Things settled down as she finished fifth in Aspen, fourth in Are, Sweden, won back-to-back races in Kuehtai in Tirol, Austria, and Zagreb, Croatia. Shiffrin wrapped the pre-Worlds slalom slate with third in the night slalom at Flachau, Austria.

AMERICAN UPSETS

Can Shiffrin win today? Absolutely.

Will she win? That would be the $64,000 question, a question which should probably be upgraded for inflation.

As we have seen at these World Championships thus far, the Americans have had shots at medals, but the rest of the world has great skiers who have been interfering with the script. Very rude of them.

Along those lines, meet Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter (bib No. 4). The Swede leads Shiffrin in World Cup points, 420-379. At 374 points is Slovenia’s Tina Maze (1). If you haven’t been paying attention, shame on you. Maze is most definitely in the mix for her third gold and fourth medal.

In a shocking twist — not — the Austrians should be well represented with Kathrin Zettel (3), Nicole Hosp (7) and Michaela Kirchgasser (10). (Again, if you’ve been paying attention to the races so far, you already know these names.)

Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner (5) and the Czech Republic’s Sarka Strachova (6) should also be in the mix.

And, having said all that, the one thing that this set of Worlds has not had is a surprise winner, someone completely out of the blue.

THE NUMBERS

Format: It’s a two-run race with the best-combined time winning. The top 60 racers get a second run. However, the top 30, the racers to watch will go first during the final run in a flip. That means the fastest racer in the first run goes 30th in the second. There are a mere 120 racers today.

Stats: The course starts at 9,548 feet and drops 613 feet during the course of 2,099 feet of distance.

Weather: The high should be 51 degrees with sun. With this forecast comes our token watch of the piste during the second run.

Defending slalom champion: Nobody. This is the first time we’ve had a women’s slalom at Beaver Creek since Birds of Prey and Raptor opened.

THE RACE

Watch out: It’s monotonous, yes, but there’s a reason it’s monotonous. It’s true. Racers must carry speed from the top onto the flats down low. Gaining time on Harrier and Redtail is next to impossible.

The favorites: Hansdotter, Shiffrin, Maze, Zettel and Pietilae-Holmner.

The Americans: Shiffrin (2), Resi Stiegler (19), Paula Moltzan (32), Hailey Duke (36) and Megan McJames (44).

Our favorite person not representing America: Sarah Schleper (77) will be racing again for Mexico.

THE PICKS

OK, everyone but that idiot Freud went with Ligety for Friday. In my defense, by picking Hirscher I jinxed him? Weak sauce, Freud

Shauna Farnell, Vail Daily: Shiffrin

Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Hansdotter for the jinx.

Pat Graham, AP Denver: Shiffrin.

Melanie Wong, Vail Daily: Shiffrin.