Pyeongchang (South Korea) (AFP) – American Mikaela Shiffrin, one of the biggest names at the Pyeongchang Games, begins her bid to light up the Olympics in alpine skiing on Monday.
The 22-year-old targets the giant slalom to launch her multi-medal campaign following on her gold medal win in the slalom at the Sochi Olympics four years ago.
AFP looks at five things to know ahead of Monday’s race.
– Shiffrin tipped for a bagful –
The opening giant slalom is followed by Shiffrin’s slalom title defence, the super-G, downhill, combined and team events. It is a schedule the American herself could have scripted to maximise her chance of bagging multiple medals. “But I’m not actually sure whether I’ll have the energy to do (all) that,” she says. “Right now I’m focusing on giant slalom and slalom and after that switching the focus to speed.”
– Work, work, work –
Shiffrin won slalom gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Sochi at the age of 18, a year after she won the first of her three consecutive world slalom titles. She admits that the last four years have passed in a haze. “It’s crazy how fast the time has gone,” she says. “It feels now like Sochi was yesterday. It’s insane how I can get to this place and, not forget, but not remember every single detail of how much work that we’ve put into it in the last four years to get to this spot and to have the opportunity to be able to compete in five events at these Olympics.”
– Rebensburg bids for second gold –
Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg is bidding for a second gold and third medal in the discipline having won in Vancouver at the age of 20 and picked up a bronze in Sochi. “The giant slalom is the most competitive for the women,” says Rebensburg, with only Italian Deborah Compagnoni having previously won two golds (1994, 1998).
– Worley, La Squadra lurk –
France’s reigning world GS champion Tessa Worley and a formidable Italian quartet, as well as Rebensburg, mean Shiffrin’s task is far from a fait accompli. “To be quite simple in what I’m doing is how I get to perform better, and then I have to stay focused in the moments when I really need to,” says Worley, born to a French mother and Australian father. Italy will be spearheaded by Soffia Goggia, accompanied by Federica Brignone, Marta Bassino and Manuela Moelgg.
– Yongpyong, established resort –
Unlike the purpose-built Jeongseon course, controversially carved through a forest for the men and women’s speed events, the Yongpyong venue has a longer history, dating back to 1975 and South Korea’s oldest and largest ski resort. Competition courses were constructed in 1998 for the 1999 Asian Winter Games. It has also hosted World Cup events in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.