Let the Championships begin: It’s the women’s super-G race | VailDaily.com

Let the Championships begin: It’s the women’s super-G race

OK, here we go, people.

The first race of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships is the women’s super-G at 11 a.m., and we really couldn’t ask for a better opening act.

The first question on everyone’s mind is, “Can Lindsey really do it?” Vonn (Bib No. 18) looked sharp in downhill training on Monday, for what it’s worth, tying for fourth. And, oh, yeah, don’t forget that American Stacey Cook (14) actually won training on Monday.

OK, enough with the flag waving.

As a public service reminder, there really are other nations with tremendous athletes competing in the 2015 Worlds, even though the U.S.A. had five in the top 14 on Monday. (Note to self, stop being a jingoistic jerk, Freud.).

Seriously, let’s start with Switzerland’s Lara Gut (16). She’s third in the World Cup points What’s more she’s only the defending World Cup champion, the defending world champion and the winner of the test event on Raptor in super-G in 2013. She should be a factor.

Austria’s Anna Fenninger (22) is second in the World Cup points, trailing Vonn only 280-272. In addition to being a speed machine, she’s the defending Olympic gold medalist in super-G.

Austria’s Cornelia Huetter (15) was a DNF on Monday, but she’s still very much in the mix. And, get used to this — Slovenia’s Tina Maze (19). She’s going to be a factor in every women’s race. There’s a reason she’s the overall leader coming into Worlds.

And then there’s the “Who?” factor. Worlds always has a surprise factor, someone from nowhere who wins. (So maybe you can ignore everything to this point.)

TODAYS RACE

The stats and other things you need to know about today’s super-G:

• Format: One run with the fastest time winning. Do note that in super-G, the racers may not pre-ski the course, only inspect it.

• Course numbers: The super-G start is at 10,890 feet and drops, 1,935 feet to 8,955 feet. The average slope is 19 degrees with a maximum angle of 30 degrees.

• Weather: Weather.com says 44 degrees for Avon, which means about 34 for Redtail. There’s a 50 percent chance of snow with an emphasis on morning snow showers, according to the website. Winds are 10-15 mph.

Of course, we had quite a delay because of snow and wind on Monday. As always, your mileage may vary on weather. One thing to remember with snow is that sometimes the earlier racers can have an advantage rather than the favorites, who go Nos. 15-22, because the course has just been cleaned of the white stuff.

THINGS TO KNOW

• Watch out: If it’s windy, the Runway at the top of the course could be interesting. Redtail Jump was also launching some of the racers more than expected on Monday.

• Beaver Creek women’s super-G champions: Vonn (2011) and Gut (2013).

• Defending world champion: Gut.

• 1999 world champion: Renate Goetschl, Austria.

• Favorites: As mentioned, Vonn, Fenninger, Gut, Huetter and Maze make up the top five in the points in super-G. Liecthenstein’s Tina Weirather (20) is a factor as is Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl (21).

• Darkhorses: Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel (8) had a good training on Monday as did Switzerland’s Fabienne Suter (7). Julia Mancuso (11) can never be underestimated at Worlds. Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg (10) has the speed skills to get it done.

• Americans: Mancuso (11); Cook (14);Vonn (18) and Laurenne Ross (28).

• The picks: Yes, we are theoretically experts, but we’re usually wrong. But Chris Freud, the Daily’s sports editor, Shauna Farnell, the Daily’s ski goddess, and Pat Graham, of AP Denver, all go with Vonn.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.