ALPINE SKIING Preview: Shiffrin expected back on the slopes in Slovenia

American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin

Just about two-thirds of the women’s Alpine World Cup racing has been completed, and the final races prior to the 2019 World Alpine Skiing Championships come this weekend in Maribor (SLO).

The schedule calls for a Giant Slalom and Slalom and that means American Mikaela Shiffrin will try to continue her dominance over the technical races. She has won six of the eight Slalom-style events held so far and two of the five Giant Slaloms. She has also won three Super-G races for 11 total wins this season.

Much attention is now being focused on the single-season wins record of 14 by Vreni Schneider (SUI) back in 1989 and Shiffrin could come within one with a sweep in Maribor. She has won there twice before, a Slalom in 2015 and another in 2017.

In terms of the overall standings, Shiffrin leads with 1,494 points, ahead of Petra Vlhova (SVK) with 898, then Wendy Holdener (SUI: 637) and Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT: 617). Shiffrin also leads the Super-G, Giant Slalom and Slalom categories, but not by more than 80 points in any one of them.

NBC’s Olympic Channel will have coverage from Maribor on Friday morning at 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Eastern time and the second run of the women’s Slalom on Saturday at 7 .m. Eastern time. Look for results here.

The men’s World Cup racing will be in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) this week, with a Downhill and Giant Slalom on Saturday and Sunday.

Like Shiffrin, the seasonal record for wins is also being chased by Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who is well positioned to win his eighth straight World Cup overall title. He has a 1,216-732 lead over Alexis Pinturault (FRA) in the overall standings, followed by Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR: 671) and Dominik Paris (ITA: 550).

Hirscher has 10 wins on the season; he is one of three men to have won 13 races in a season, along with Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark and Austria’s Hermann Maier. There are seven more Giant Slalom and Slalom-style races remaining this season and he will be favored in all of them.

He leads the Giant Slalom and Slalom categories as well as the overall, and is way ahead: 540-302 over Kristoffersen in the Giant Slalom and 676-401 to new challenger Clement Noel in the Slalom.

In the Downhill, defending champ Beat Feuz (SUI) is now the seasonal leader with 420 points, a full race – 100 points – ahead of Italy’s Dominik Paris (32) and Christof Innerhofer (ITA: 260).

One of the finest Downhillers of this generation, Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal announced last weekend that he will retire after the World Alpine Championships in Sweden next month. Now 36, he won two Olympic golds in 2010 (Super-G) and 2018 (Downhill) and won two World Cup overall titles in 2007 and 2009. He will skip Garmisch to get ready for the Worlds.

The men’s Downhill from Garmisch will be on the NBC Olympic Channel at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, with the Giant Slalom on Sunday on the same channel starting at 5:30 a.m. Look for results here.