The speeds that Alpine skiers generate are fantastic and dangerous. This dynamic is one of the reasons their sport is one of the most thrilling to watch during the Winter Olympics.
On Sunday, the competition will begin with the men's downhill event.
Here's the information you need to watch all of the events under the Alpine skiing window.
Feb. 9: Men’s downhill, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 10: Women’s super combined, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 12: Women’s downhill, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 14: Men’s super combined, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 15: Women’s super-G, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 16: Men’s super-G, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 18: Women’s giant slalom, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 19: Men’s giant slalom, 3 a.m. EST
Feb. 21: Women’s slalom, 7:45 a.m. EST
Feb. 22: Men’s slalom, 7:45 a.m. EST
Tape delay on NBC Primetime, 7 p.m. ET on Feb. 9.
Check NBCOlympics.com for the local listings for the other days of competition.
Stars to Watch
Ligety has been on fire leading into the Olympics. After finishing third in the latest World Cup standings by winning the giant slalom, super-G and the super combined at the world championships, he is poised to make some noise in Sochi.
He won a gold medal at the 2006 Turin Games, but that seems like eons ago. When asked what has changed since then, he told Jon Schuppe of NBC Bay Area: "I think I’ve definitely matured a lot as an athlete since my first Olympics. I think I have figured out how to become more consistent on the World Cup, figured out how to get my best performances, especially on those important days."
Because of his recent success, Ligety could win multiple medals and lead the United States to a team gold medal.
Miller is a threat in super-G and downhill, despite the fact that he's 36 years old. He has already won five Olympic medals in his storied career.
During the downhill training session on Thursday, he had the fastest time. He clocked in at 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds down the Rosa Khutor piste. Coincidentally, this was the area where he suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss the 2013 Alpine season.
Because of his prior success, age and recovery from injury, Miller's Olympic journey is one of the most compelling.
Lindsey Vonn's absence has opened the door for Shiffrin to shine athletically and commercially. Vonn is already a celebrity whose fame would have only grown had she competed in Sochi.
Now, much of that spotlight will shine on the 18-year-old Shiffrin.
In 2013, she became the first American slalom World Cup champion since Tamara McKinney in 1984.
Shira Springer of the Boston Globe talked about Shiffrin's opportunity to shine in Vonn's absence:
For American audiences almost worshipful of precocious sports talent, the Games provide a perfect launching pad for the country’s most promising Alpine skier since Vonn, a gold medalist and 17-time World Cup title winner. Plus, Vonn’s absence because of knee surgery creates a face-of-the-Games void. Shiffrin, with her long blond hair and easy smile, could fill that void, especially if she ends up on the podium.
Things are set up nicely for Shiffrin, but she still has to win. Though she is just 18 and could easily compete in the 2018 Games, she needs to seize the moment.
There are no guarantees, and four years is a long time to wait for redemption.
Team Medal Predictions
The Americans have the clear edge as a team. Both the men and women are extremely strong. There's a great balance of experience and talent.
Tommy Schield of TeamUSA.org wrote, "There’s a golden pedigree to the U.S. alpine skiing team as it begins the Sochi Games on Sunday at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center. Miller, Ligety and Julia Mancuso are all Olympic champions, while Shiffrin is the reigning world champion in slalom."
Imagine if Vonn had been present; we'd be talking about a Dream Team in Sochi. Expect the Americans to bring a boatload of medals—some of them golden—back to the United States with them.