Downhill–with its autobahn speeds and spectacular crashes—may be the mountain's riskiest event, but the turny, precise technical courses demand a level of exactitude unmatched in the Winter Olympic arena.
Giant Slalom The Austrians—perennially dominant across the alpine field—prize the GS above all and consider it to be the skier’s event. It requires deft precision and measured abandon, making it, arguably, the most challenging discipline to master. Thank goodness for malleable polycarbonate gate poles, which give a little when racers hit them. Even at relatively slow GS speeds, forces can exceed 75 gs—roughly equivalent to a full-speed helmet-to-helmet collision in football—as racers brush gates aside with their forearms and shoulders.
Lake Tahoe's Julia Mancuso, the current Olympic giant slalom champion, is setting records and collecting medals at an impressive pace. Follow her all season long as she fills her trophy case with more hardware and find out what makes the modern-day Lange Girl tick.
Leanne Smith (Conway, NH), who was 23rd in her World Cup debut one day earlier, raced into her first top-20 Sunday, finishing 19th in a super G. Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA) led U.S. women in 11th place while Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) crashed on the upper section of the run.
Who will win this weekend? Bode Miller, who's now an independent? The powerful Austrians? Svindal, the reigning overall World Cup champion? Or one of the young guns of the U.S. Team? Watch each race LIVE all season at wcsn.com.