ALPINE SKIING Preview: More Mikaela wins on the way in Semmering?

American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin (Photo: Reese Brown courtesy U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

The FIS Alpine World Cup continues right through New Year’s with a busy schedule right through the first weekend of 2019, and a chance for Austria’s Marcel Hirscher and American Mikaela Shiffrin to completely blow open the World Cup points race:

∙ 28-29 December: Men’s Downhill & Super-G in Bormio (ITA)
∙ 01 January: City Event in Oslo (NOR)
∙ 06 January: Men’s Slalom in Zagreb (CRO)

∙ 28-29 December: Women’s Giant Slalom & Slalom in Semmering (AUT)
∙ 01 January: City Event in Oslo (NOR)
∙ 05 January: Women’s Slalom in Zagreb (CRO)

Hirscher and Shiffrin are both superstar “technical” skiers, best in the Slalom and Giant Slalom races. In recent years, the concentration of these races over the holidays have allowed both to pile up huge leads; Hirscher has won this way for seven straight World Cups and Shiffrin for two seasons in a row. The current standings:

Men (14 of 41 races):
1. 620 Marcel Hirscher (AUT)
2. 352 Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR)
3. 341 Max Franz (AUT)
4. 333 Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR)
5. 321 Loic Meillard (SUI)

Women (13 of 38 races):
1. 889 Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
2. 388 Petra Vlhova (SVK)
3. 367 Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR)
4. 359 Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT)
5. 316 Michelle Gisin (SUI)

For comparison with last season, Hirscher won with 1,620 points to 1,285 for Kristoffersen and 886 for Svindal. Shiffrin won with 1,773 points – she’s more than halfway there already! – to 1,168 for Wendy Holdener (SUI) and 977 for German Viktoria Rebensburg (GER).

In terms of this weekend’s races, Italy’s Dominik Paris is the defending champion in the Bormio Downhill, with Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud second and third last season. There was no Super-G last season.

The women haven’t raced in Semmering since the 2016-17 season, when Shiffrin – on her way to her first World Cup overall title – swept three races, winning two Giant Slaloms and then a Slalom on the final day.

How dominant are Hirscher and Shiffrin? The Austrian star has won five of the 14 races held on the World Cup tour so far this season; teammate Franz is the only other skier to win more than once. Shiffrin has won a ridiculous seven of 13 races and if she sweeps Semmering and the City Event in Oslo – entirely possible – she could be the winner in 10 of 16 races on the season. Austria’s Schmidhofer has won twice (both Downhills) and Ilka Stuhec (SLO) has won twice (Downhill and Super-G), meaning that across 13 races so far, there have been only five winners!

Click here for the FIS calendar and results links.