Alpine skiing has been a hot topic of discussion at the 2014 Winter Olympics, as skiers have been having trouble staying on course. Warm conditions have been a constant headache for athletes and organizers in Sochi, where temperatures have risen past 60 degrees Fahrenheit at different times during the Winter Games.
Things hit rock bottom during the women's super-G competition on Saturday. Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports detailed the wild situation during the event, when seven of the first eight skiers veered off course.
As one skier after another spun off the course, others later in the order huddled around a monitor in the starting area, trying to understand where the mistakes were being made. Others who had failed to finish began sending information back up the mountain to teammates, laying out all the trouble areas. That helped the field catch up as the event carried on. Eighteen of 49 skiers ultimately didn't finish their runs, while one more didn't start the race.
It will be interesting to see how the women react going into Tuesday's two-run giant slalom event, which has been moved up earlier in the morning in an effort to ski on better snow. While the event won't be broadcast live on American TV, you can still watch live online with NBC Live Extra.
Dense fog has also been an issue in Sochi recently, and as Graham Dunbar of The Associated Press cautioned, there are 90 women taking part in this event, so the second run might be pushed back to Wednesday if the conditions aren't up to par.
Here's a look at the updated schedule and TV information for now, followed by predictions for the three medalists in this wide-open race. For more information, visit Sochi2014.com.
Women's Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 19
Run 1 Time: 12:30 a.m. ET
Run 2 Time: 4 a.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
Live TV?: No
TV Coverage: NBC Primetime (8 p.m. / 7 p.m. CT)
Gold: Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Germany
Silver: Jessica Lindelll-Vikarby, Sweden
Bronze: Anna Fenninger, Austria
Through 10 days of Winter Games action, Germany has emerged as the leader in the gold-medal count with eight first-place finishes. Looking at her recent string of success, veteran Maria Hoefl-Riesch looks like a prime candidate to bring home another gold for her country in the giant slalom event.
Hoefl-Riesch, 29, is vying to earn her fifth career Olympic medal. She won the gold in the super combined and silver in the super-G event already in Sochi after winning both events at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
It seems like she's peaking at the right time just as she did four years ago, and I envision Hoefl-Riesch standing atop the podium by the end of the competition.
Meanwhile, Jessica Lindell-Vikarby is currently ranked the world's top skier in the World Cup giant slalom rankings, ahead of fellow Swede Maria Pietilae-Holmner. Even though they might be atop the leaderboard, the two women haven't exactly generated a lot of fanfare going into this event, per Dunbar's report.
"Nope," Pietilae-Holmner said. "No one is used to having two Swedish girls up there. So maybe that's why. But it's really cool to have Nos. 1 and 2 in the same team."
Following her gold medal-winning performance in the women's super G earlier in Sochi, Austia's Anna Fenninger made some interesting comments to Martyn Herman of Reuters.
"In GS, I have no realistic medal chances. It's not my major motivation," she said. "In super-combined my slalom was quite good. We'll have to see about the slalom specialists - they've had their home comforts and better preparation."
Still, I see her riding that momentum and bringing home some more hardware by the end of the giant slalom.
It's all about technique in this race, with speed serving as a secondary aspect. With such slushy courses so far during the Olympics, the women will need to be at the top of their games.
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