Alpine skiing kicks off in the Winter Olympics with the fastest of all the disciplines: men's downhill.
The downhill event has a longer course and higher speeds than any other Alpine event due its the steep course with spread-out gates. The athletes are known to achieve speeds up to 120 km/hr (74.5 mph) as they race to the finish line. The skiers go down the course one at a time, and at the end the athlete with the fastest time wins—it's certainly the simplest of all scoring systems.
This year the competition is wide open. Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal is the favorite, but Bode Miller of the U.S. and many other contenders are nipping at his heels. Here is everything you need to know about the men's downhill event in Sochi:
February 9, 2 a.m ET
TV and Live Stream Info
Tape delay on NBC Primetime, 7 p.m. ET on February 9.
Live on www.nbcolympics.com.
After a fairly wide-open downhill World Cup season, there are a number of skiers who qualified for the Olympics who could do some damage in the downhill race.
On the American side, the ageless Bode Miller is the leader of the team in his fifth Olympic Games. Adrien Theaux, the 29-year-old from France who who is a noncommissioned officer in the French military, has qualified and has a chance to medal.
The favorite, Aksel Lund Svindal from Norway, is in the event, as are the Italians Dominik Paris and Peter Fill. With Hannes Reichelt from Austria out of the Games at the last minute due to injury, Max Franz and Klaus Kroell are leading the strong Austrian team.
Erik Guay from Canada, Patrick Kueng of Switzerland and Johan Clarey from France have qualified, too. Overall, it's a very deep field in downhill, and anything could happen.
Can Bode Miller Win His Sixth Olympic Medal in His Fifth Games?
Thirty-six-year-old Bode Miller missed the entire 2012 season due to a knee surgery that many thought would be the end of his career. But after an impressive comeback season on the World Cup circuit, he's ready for a couple more shots at Olympic glory.
Miller won a gold, silver and bronze in Vancouver, and now he's trying to add even more Olympic success to his already-impressive resume. The most decorated male Alpine skier in American history just isn't done winning yet.
Can Aksel Lund Svindal Win His First of Four Medals in These Games?
Considered one of the best Alpine skiers this century, Svindal is trying to add to his legacy in Sochi. Like Miller, Svindal also went gold, silver and bronze in Vancouver, and now he's trying to turn his 2010 silver into a 2014 gold in downhill.
The Norwegian is coming off of one of the best years of his career and is competing in four Alpine skiing disciplines in these Games. He's the favorite in the downhill and Super-G and will try to get off to a winning start on Sunday.
Klaus Kroell: The 33-year-old from Austria seems to just get better with age. After struggling for most of his career to stand out in the deep Austrian Alpine team, he has come into his own in downhill. In 2012 he finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world in downhill, and he's had good results on the world stage this year. Known for his large size—at least compared to other Alpine racers—Kroell is always one to watch.
Dominik Paris: The 24-year-old from Italy won the silver medal in downhill at the 2013 World Championships and certainly has the talent to finish on the podium in Sochi. He's had a great World Cup season, even defeating Aksel Lund Svindal along the way.
Aksel Lund Svindal is certainly the favorite in this event and should take home his first of two Sochi golds by the end of the race on Sunday. Though the fast-paced nature of downhill makes it extremely unpredictable, Svindal has the technical skills, form and fearlessness to go faster than the rest of the field. That, combined with his veteran savviness and desire to win four medals in Sochi, should make him unbeatable.
Gold: Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)
Silver: Bode Miller (USA)
Bronze: Dominik Paris (Italy)
I predict that veterans Svindall and Miller will continue to add to their monstrous legacies by medaling in Sochi, while Paris will capitalize on a successful World Cup season and capture the up-for-grabs bronze, which will be his first Olympic medal.