Olympic Alpine history beckons skier Hoefl-Riesch
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Olympic Alpine history beckons several contenders for the women’s downhill on Wednesday, none more than Maria Hoefl-Riesch.
The 29-year-old German can match all-time greats Janica Kostelic of Croatia and Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway with a fourth career Olympic gold medal.
Any medal for Julia Mancuso would tie Bode Miller’s career tally of five as the most decorated American Alpine Olympians.
WIN EARLY, WIN OFTEN: Hoefl-Riesch has won her three gold medals in only six Olympic races so far, having made her injury-delayed debut in Vancouver four years ago.
In comparison, Kostelic got her fourth gold in the 11th of her 14-race Olympic career, spread across three Winter Games from 1998-2006.
Aamodt graced five straight Winter Games from 1992-2006, and left on a high with his fourth victory in his 20th and final race.
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER: Elisabeth Goergl can create a more impressive Olympic record with her mother than the one they already hold.
Goergl’s downhill bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics followed her mom Traudl Hecher’s back-to-back downhill bronzes at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics and four years later at home in Innsbruck, Austria.
The first, at age 16 years, 145 days, still leaves Hecher the youngest Olympic Alpine medalist.
Any medal here for Goergl, whose 33rd birthday is next week, would make her the oldest women’s Alpine medalist.
That mark is held by former teammate Michaela Dorfmeister, who was 32 years, 332 days when winning super-G gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
GUT TO GO: Lara Gut has her emotions under control after tearfully skiing out in the super-combined slalom, according to the Switzerland Alpine women’s team head coach.
Hans Flatscher said Gut was “really angry ... but after a few hours she was already in focus for the downhill.”
Gut’s five World Cup race wins are the most this season, and are spread across downhill, super-G and giant slalom — the next three events on the women’s Olympic program.
CATCHING UP: Two of the biggest names in Alpine skiing are later arrivals on the Rosa Khutor slopes.
Ted Ligety and Alexis Pinturault — specialists in shorter, technical events who skipped the downhill — continue their fast-track education on the speed slope Wednesday ahead of Friday’s super-combined. Both are medal contenders.
France’s Pinturault likes the course and views its signature jumps as key: “You must try to jump well, landing as early as possible to carry the most speed.”
The men’s training is scheduled to end early on a shortened track, leaving the shared finish area clear for the women.
WARMING UP: Race-time temperatures could be even warmer Wednesday.
The forecast calls for 8 C (46 F) at the scheduled 11 a.m. (0700GMT) start time, rising to 10 C (50 F) during the race.
Snow should be softer than for any downhill race this season, predicted Mauro Pini, who coaches Tina Maze in the speed event.
Still, it might not affect the result because most upper sections are in shadow cast by the mountains.
“It’s only the last two or three gates on the final pitch that are slow,” said Pini.