Is Mikaela Shiffrin in the house today?
BEAVER CREEK — So apparently, there’s some local connection with today’s giant slalom.
Welcome back to Beaver Creek and today’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championships women’s GS, aka “Mikaela is here.”
The Worlds started something like two years ago — actually 10 days — and Mikaela finally gets to ski in an individual event.
If you have been living in a cave without wireless recently, the force is strong with Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who will wear No. 3 today.
Obviously slalom is her strength right now, but Shiffrin got her first GS win back in October in Soelden, Austria, a tie with Anna Fenninger (7).
However, as much as local race fans would simply give her the gold, there are, surprisingly enough other racers in this event.
Austria’s Eva-Maria Brem (4) leads the points in GS, followed by Fenninger and Shiffrin. Sweden’s Sara Hector (15) is in fourth and some Slovenian named Tina Maze (2) rounds out the top five. (We’ve heard she’s been doing pretty well at Worlds.)
We also welcome Mexico’s Sarah Schleper (54) who finally gets a run at the Championships on home snow. Back in 1999, she was injured and didn’t get to race, so good on her for going this time around.
And this is probably the longest the Vail Daily has ever written on women’s skiing without mentioning Lindsey Vonn (31). No, these Worlds have definitely not gone the way she has wanted, but she deserves credit for competing in the combined and the GS. She knows it’s about the home fans, and she is doing her best on that count.
As far as the podium goes, it might be too much to ask for Shiffrin to make the top step. Let’s try to remember that she’s all of 19. Yes, she has shown that she seems immune to pressure, see the Olympic slalom and 2013 Worlds. The Austrians are rolling (Brem and Fenninger) and Maze is smoking hot — and she had two days of rest, not a small thing in this condensed schedule.
The format: It’s a two run race with the top-30, making the flip, meaning that the fastest in the first run goes 30th. The top-60 racers do get second runs. They will run after the flip. Best combined time wins. There are 116 racers today.
The numbers: The course starts at 10,093 feet and drops 1,158 feet. The course is 4,280 feet long.
The weather: Its meant to be a high of 44 degrees and partly cloudy. The course held up a lot better for the women’s combined on Tuesday than it did on Monday for the men’s combined.
Defending Worlds champion: Tessa Worley, France, (12).
Defending Olympic champion: Maze.
Defending World Cup champion: Fenninger.
Watch out: This will likely be a speedier GS, as opposed to a technical one, with the course going over Screech Owl, Golden Eagle, Harrier and Redtail. Those who carry speed from up top onto the slower part of the course down low are those to watch.
Favorites: Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (5), of Norway, won the test event here in 2013. She joins Shiffrin, Brem, Fenninger and Maze.
Darkhorses: Everyone forgets about Sweden’s Maria Pietilae-Holmner (1). Austria’s Kathrin Zettel (6) was strong in the combined. Switzerland’s Lara Gut (9) has also been skiing well here.
Americans: Shiffrin (3), Mancuso (26), Vonn (31), Megan McJames (38).
The picks: As always, no wagering.
Shauna Farnell, Vail Daily: Shiffrin.
Chris Freud, Vail Daily: Maze.
Pat Graham, AP Denver: Shiffrin.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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