World Cup reboot: The predictions for the home stretch and Mikaela Shiffrin
March 2, 2018
Just a reminder — the skiing season ain't over with the conclusion of the Olympics.
Yes, most of America watches ski racing for two weeks once every four years and draws its conclusions on this small sample.
Ergo, we get enlightened posts on ESPN.com that Lindsey Vonn's bronze medal in downhill is just a "second-loser medal."
[Freud slams head against desk.]
To help ease your figure-skating withdrawal, we've got women's super-G and combined in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and men's giant slalom and slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, this weekend.
The Shiffrin report
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Mikaela Shiffrin can take the rest of the year off and still repeat as the World Cup champion. She leads Switzerland's Wendy Holdener, 1,513 to 842, in the points.
I'm not joking. Shiffrin leads by 671 points with nine races left. Good on Wendy Holdener for winning the combined and taking silver in the slalom at the Olympics, but she's not winning seven of the last nine races.
Shiffrin also has the slalom globe all but locked up. With two races left in that discipline, she leads Petra Vlhova, of Slovakia, 780 to 605.
The three questions for Mikaela are as follows:
• What about the GS globe? We've got a tight race here with Germany's Viktoria Rebensburg (502), France's Tessa Worley (470) and Shiffrin (421) with two races and a maximum of 200 points available.
The newly minted Olympic GS champion can make a move here with the Ofterschwang, Germany, race on March 9, and the World Cup Finals GS in Are, Sweden, on March 18.
• Will Shiffrin continue to test her downhill skills? While we don't have an official pronouncement from Camp Mikaela that she'll be racing this weekend, she finished 13th in the super-G and won the combined in Crans-Montana last year. It's not a leap to see her doing some speed this weekend, as it fits in with her pattern of racing in comfortable environments, where she's had success — such as Lake Louise, Alberta, and Cortina, Italy.
Also, does she run speed during the World Cup Finals in Are? The World Cup Finals question is not so much about accumulating points for this season, but that Are is the host for the 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Getting some runs in on that hill might be useful.
• Tina Maze's record of 2,414 points is safe for this season. That would have been a stretch for Shiffrin, but how about 2,000? Just throwing that out there. Only Maze and some guy named Hermann Maier have scored 2,000 in a season.
The Vonn report
• As far as globes go, her best bet is the downhill. Italy's Sofia Goggia leads with 429 points to Vonn's 406. The only downhill left is at the finals in Are. The thing to remember here is that Goggia is an all-or-nothing racer. She'll win or she'll DNF. The latter opens the door for Vonn.
• Since she already has 20 globes — and if she wins No. 21, she could pack it in her suitcase like Bode Miller — the bigger thing for Lindsey is World Cup wins. Ingemar Stenmark holds the record at 86, and Vonn is at 81. With all of her statements indicating that she will retire after the 2018-19 season, it would be nice for Vonn to budge a little closer to 86 this season, making it easier to crash through the mark next year.
All hail Hirscher
Austria's Marcel Hirscher is on his way to his seventh World Cup championship in a row, a prospect he downplayed back here at Birds of Prey in December. Barring a DNF in the final four tech races, Hirscher will also win the slalom and GS globes.
Yes I hear you that he DNF'd in the Olympic slalom. Remember that we're back on familiar World Cup tracks for the final three weeks. Hirscher hasn't DNF'd in a World Cup GS since Feb. 6, 2011. His last DNF in a World Cup slalom was Feb. 14, 2016 — in Japan.
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