By Liam Morgan |
American star Mikaela Shiffrin will begin her pursuit of becoming the first woman to win four consecutive overall International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing World Cups for 45 years, when the season opens in Sölden this weekend.
The 24-year-old returns to action off the back of a record-breaking 2018-2019 campaign and will be one of the headline names in action in the Austrian resort.
Shiffrin broke the record for World Cup victories last season with 17, added two more World Championships gold medals to her collection and wrapped up a third straight overall title.
She is expected to dominate again during 2019-2020.
Slovakian technical specialist Petra Vlhova is likely to provide the toughest challenge to Shiffrin’s recent monopoly of the overall crystal globe crown.
Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, who finished second to Shiffrin two years ago and was third last season, and Italian Sofia Goggia have suggested they will not be able to mount an assault on the overall title.
The upcoming season is the first since 1999 not to feature American Lindsey Vonn, Austrian Marcel Hirscher and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who have all retired.
The absence of Hirscher, winner of the last eight overall World Cups, opens the door for the rest of the men’s field.
Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, Italian Dominik Paris and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen will be among those chasing the title.
The traditional curtain-raising event in Sölden features men’s and women’s giant slalom competitions.
The women’s race takes place tomorrow and the men’s will be held on Sunday (October 27).
It is going ahead after positive snow control was given for the event.
“The slope preparation took us very long this year,” said Sölden’s chief of course Isidor Grüner.
“Luckily, we have had good temperatures for snowmaking and at the moment we have great conditions for training.
“Now we will work with water to create ideal and fair racing conditions for Saturday and Sunday.”
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.