Alpine Skiing Basking in the Afterglow
It is well documented that Singapore-born British violinist Vanessa Mae took part in the Giant Slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics by representing Thailand using the surname of her Thai father, Vorapong Vanakorn.
What’s not so well known is the aftermath story whereby the Slovenian Ski Association (SSA) has subsequently discovered clear breaches of International Ski Federation rules in reference to Mae’s defining qualification race in Slovenia which
allowed her to line-up in Sochi. “We think there is serious doubt about what happened in the race” said Yuri Zurej of the SSA on declaring four officials have been suspended and a file passed on to the country’s public prosecutor. “When we checked the competition and all the data, we discovered that, on the results list on the second day of the competition, in fourth place there was a girl not even physically present at the course” said Zurej. “Another concern is of a girl who told us she fell in the race and then slowly continued to the finish line, but was recorded as finishing in second place. We were also told the weather conditions were impossible to compete in but still the race was done” he added.
Regardless, the fact remains that all news is good news and with those Olympics fresh in the memory, and Tiger Woods dating the delectable Lindsey Vonn who is one of the most successful woman skiers of all time, woman’s alpine skiing is enjoying a surge in popularity.
The first event of the 2014/15 season is October 25th/26th in Solden, Austria before moving on to Levi, Finland for November 15th/16th. Thereafter the action is weekly although, surprisingly, the Alpine Skiing World Cup series makes just one visit each to America and Canada. The final races of the season are in late March.
With Lindsey Vonn constantly fighting injury and likely to miss the early part of the season and her three-time Olympic Gold medallist friend Maria Hofl-Riesch retiring from the sport following an horrific crash, there are three names that can be expected to populate the podium steps in the Downhill and Super-G races this season: Anna Fenninger, Lara Gutt and Tina Maze.
However, this could be breakthrough year for Tina Weirather. This 25-year-old Liechtenstein athlete is the daughter of the legendary Harti Weirather and Olympic gold medallist Hanni Wenzel. She has been plagued by injuries throughout her short professional career but hers is a massive underlying talent which started to show itself last season before injury struck again. I’m going to invest a few pennies on her landing the Overall World Cup Standings (based on results in all skiing disciplines: Downhill, Super-G, Giant-Slalom, Slalom and Combined) at odds of 9/2 with Skybet. Weirather finished fifth overall last year despite her truncated season and her off-season tweets indicate that she is now completely injury free and fitter than ever.
Weirather may look the marginal best at the speed events but there is no disputing the dominance of 19-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin in the Slalom discipline. The young American lifted gold in Sochi adding it to a trophy cabinet already brimming with nine World Cup winner’s medals and a World Championship gold. Frighteningly for her rivals she is still a number of years short of her physical peak. It is very possible the precocious collects a medal in all of the ten Ladies Slalom races of the World Cup season and you can expect more than half of them to be golden. One to keep an eye on during the season at anything approaching reasonable odds.