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Olympics: Swedish women favorites in giant slalom

Associated Press

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia: With six races down and four to go, Monday was an off day for the Alpine skiing venue at the Sochi Olympics.

The next events are the women’s and men’s giant slalom races today and Wednesday, respectively, before the slalom races close the schedule.

Here are five things to know about Alpine skiing entering the final week of competition:

Ted’s time

Ted Ligety hasn’t had the best of starts to these games with a 12th-place finish in super-combined and a 14th in super-G.

But giant slalom is the event he’s dominated the past two years, winning nine of 14 World Cup races in the discipline.

“Nothing has changed for Ted,” U.S. technical coach Forest Carey said. “He’s the favorite in GS and everyone in the world knows that — and he’s ready.”

Swedish consistency

If the World Cup standings mean anything, Swedish skiers Jessica Lindell-Vikarby and Maria Pietilae-Holmner should be top contenders in today’s giant slalom.

They stand first and second, respectively, in the discipline standings.

With one win this season and two second-places, Lindell-Vikarby leads with 332 points.

Pietilae-Holmner has never finished lower than seventh in the five races this season and has 222 points.

“Anything can happen. We have a good team,” retired Swedish great Anja Paerson said. “I think everyone feels in good shape and they have all had good results.”

Exotic locales

The upcoming men’s and women’s giant slalom races will feature some skiers who don’t exactly expect to win, just want to enjoy the experience.

Among those scheduled to compete in the women’s race is Vanessa Vanakorn of Thailand. She may be more familiar by her stage name — Vanessa-Mae. She’s a concert violinist.

“Even when I get to the bottom of the slope in a race, and even if I may be last, I have such a blast,” Vanessa-Mae said.

In the men’s GS, there are skiers entered from Pakistan, India and Peru.

No letup for Norway

No way is Norway letting up after Kjetil Jansrud’s super-G win on Sunday, which added to his downhill bronze.

The small but select Scandinavian team has medal hopes in the final two events, with the next generation boosting team leaders Jansrud and Aksel Lund Svindal.

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was the 2013 junior world champion in giant slalom, and will line up in Wednesday’s Olympic medal race alongside the illustrious pair who won silver and bronze, respectively, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“It’s really amazing how they open their arms and want to make me better,” Kilde said of the tight Norwegian team spirit.

Norway also has an ace to play in the slalom on Saturday with 19-year-old Henrik Kristoffersen, the revelation of the World Cup season after his night win in Schladming, Austria, last month.

Weirather’s wait

Tina Weirather must wait until the 2018 Pyeongchang Games to try to emulate her mother Hanni Wenzel as an Olympic champion.

Weirather has withdrawn from the giant slalom due to the right leg injury she sustained in downhill training on the Olympic slope one week ago.

The 24-year-old Liechtenstein racer arrived in Russia as a medal contender in three events after consistently solid results in the World Cup this season.

It’s the second consecutive Olympics wrecked by injury for Weirather, who tore knee ligaments in January 2010, three weeks before the Vancouver Games.


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