The slalom is one of the most iconic events in Winter Olympic history. Skiers barrel down a mountain at top speed, navigating between closely-placed gates. Because of the proximity of the gates, the event requires a technical precision unlike any other Alpine sport. There is no room for error with such tight turns.
To compete successfully on the slalom, a skier needs to be a technical master as well as a fast, fearless athlete. The Olympians compete over two separate courses and the combination of those two times will determine who has earned a coveted spot on the podium.
Read on as we take a look at the ladies scheduled to compete in the the slalom.
The Alpine skiing competition has turned into one of the most memorable events so far at the Winter Olympics. With an unprecedented and historic tie for first place in the downhill to a course that has caused significant complaints among the athletes, there has been no shortage on drama.
Tina Maze has been a force to be reckoned with on the slopes and has combined remarkable speed and flawless execution to earn gold medals in both the downhill and the giant slalom for Slovenia. Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany will be trying to add another gold after a resounding triumph in the super combined.
So far, Austria leads the medal race with five medals, one ahead of Team USA and two clear of Switzerland.
Will Maria Hoefl-Riesch compete?
Germany's Hoefl-Riesch has had a Winter Olympics full of peaks and valleys in Sochi.
With two pieces of hardware already in her collection this year, including a gold in the super combined, she was forced to sit out the giant slalom with a cold and breathing problems. She took home the gold in the slalom at the Vancouver Games in 2010, and perhaps by sitting out the giant slalom, she will come into this event well prepared to defend her title.
How is the course?
Throughout the Winter Games, there have been significant complaints about the course conditions in Sochi. Due to a stretch of warm weather, the course has been soft and difficult to navigate. In the speed competitions, this may be less of an issue. However, in an event that requires meticulous technical precision like the slalom, the course could be a major obstacle for the athletes.
The star skier from Germany has made headlines for several reasons at the Sochi Games.
The first was when she claimed her third career gold medal in the super combined. The second came when she elected to sit out the giant slalom and nurse a cold, choosing to focus on one of her premier events—the slalom.
She took home the gold in this event in 2010, and if by opting to rest she can come into this event in top form, she will be tough to beat.
Marlies Schild is a legend in the slalom. Earlier in the year, she earned an impressive and unprecedented 35th World Cup victory and carved a spot in history.
Regarded as one of the most sharpest skiers in the sport, she is always a medal contender in this event. She took home a bronze at the Turin Games and a silver in Vancouver and looks poised to add a gold to her collection.
Shiffrin made her Olympic debut for Team USA with a fifth-place finish in the giant slalom. It was an encouraging first start for the talented 18-year-old, and according to Bill Pennington of the New York Times, she is ready for the next event, saying, “This is something I’ll learn from, and the next Olympics I go to, I’m sure as heck not getting fifth.”
The slalom is her strongest event and the Olympic newcomer could be a top medal contender.
Though her Olympic debut at the Vancouver Games in 2010 was not a noteworthy one for Swede, the 28-year-old has been in strong form recently and has been holding her own against top international competition. She is a precise skier and excels at this event.
Maze has been racking up the Olympic hardware for Slovenia with an impressive pair of gold medals already in Sochi. After a confident run earned her the top spot on the podium in the giant slalom, she was able to prove she has the technical skills to go with her remarkable speed. Though this is not her strongest event, she is handling this tricky course well.
The Alpine skiing competition in Sochi has turned into one of the most competitive events at the Winter Games. The ladies have all maintained strong form throughout the Olympics so far and will get another chance to compete for Olympic glory.
Gold: Marlies Schild, Austria
Silver: Mikaela Shiffrin, United States
Bronze: Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Germany