ALPINE SKIING Preview: World Cup resumes in Bansko and Crans-Montana

The final month of the Alpine World Cup is upon us, with three stops each for the men and women before the World Cup Final in Soldeu (AND) in the middle of March. This week’s action started with a City Event in Stockholm, won by Ramon Zenhaeusern (SUI) and Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), who tied the record for the most World Cup wins in a single season with 14. Now the men move on to Bulgaria and the women to Switzerland.

Men: Combined/Super-G/Slalom in Bansko

There isn’t much doubt that the seasonal World Cup winner – for the eighth time in succession – will be Austria’s Marcel Hirscher. With 12 races to go, he has not clinched the title, but he would likely have to be injured not to win it. The standings:

1. 1,216 Marcel Hirscher (AUT)
2. 732 Alexis Pinturault (FRA)
3. 671 Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR)
4. 550 Dominik Paris (ITA)
5. 515 Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT)

Hirscher also leads in the Giant Slalom (540-302) over Kristoffersen, and 676-401 over Clement Noel (FRA) in the Slalom standings.

Kriechmayr is the seasonal leader in Super-G, but only by 236-233 over teammate Matthias Mayer, with Paris at 230 and many other close.

The Combined is only being held twice this season; Marco Schwarz (AUT) was the winner in Wengen (SUI) in mid-January. Hirscher could be a factor in this event if he wanted to jump in.

NBC’s Olympic Channel has coverage of the Combined on Friday at 7 a.m. Eastern time, and the Super-G on Saturday is on at 5:45 a.m. Eastern time. Look for results here.

Women: Downhill and Combined in Crans-Montana

The amazing Shiffrin has not yet clinched her third straight seasonal World Cup title, but she is getting close:

1. 1,794 Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
2. 1,075 Petra Vlhova (SVK)
3. 783 Wendy Holdener (SUI)
4. 617 Nicole Schmidhofer (AUT)
5. 607 Ragnhild Mowinckel (NOR)

There are 10 races to go in the women’s season and Shiffrin has more than a seven-race lead. If she jumps into the races this weekend – a Downhill and a Combined – she could just about secure the Crystal Globe for the third consecutive year.

This is the only Combined event of the women’s season, so the victor will be the “seasonal champion.” The Downhill is more competitive, with six of nine races held so far and Schmidhofer leading at 364 points over fellow Austrian Ramona Siebenhofer (346) and World Champion Ilka Stuhec (SLO: 343).

NBC’s Olympic Channel has the women’s Downhill at 4:15 a.m. on Saturday, and the Combined at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Look for results here.