The alpine skiing portion of the 2014 Winter Games is near its end after more than a week of thrilling action that has seen Olympic legends rise to the occasion to take the podium.
Luckily for fans of the discipline, two events remain as both the men and women's rosters will still compete in the regular slalom events.
The final events are worthy of the time investment from fans as the final chapter is written from Sochi. As always, there are several names fans should monitor overall as they are medal contenders and tout intriguing stories.
Like the rest of the Games, American viewers can watch the early-morning spectacles live on NBC Live Extra.
|Date||Event||Time (ET)||TV (tape delay)|
|Feb. 21||Ladies' Slalom||7:45 a.m.||NBC|
|Feb. 22||Men's Slalom||7:45 a.m.||NBC|
Note: All info courtesy of Sochi2014.com unless otherwise specified.
David Chodounsky, United States
America, and really the globe, loves an underdog story.
Fans will have to look no further than David Chodounsky to find one in the men's slalom. If Chodounsky is going to somehow overcome Austria's Marcel Hirscher and Germany's Felix Neureuther, he will need the best run of his career to date.
Oh, and the last American to medal in slalom was Steve Mahre—in 1984.
The odds are certainly against Chodounsky, but he is in the midst of a breakout year. At the age of 29, he scored his first top-10 placement in a World Cup with a seventh-place finish in December and an eighth-place finish in January.
Momentum is a powerful thing at times, and Chodounsky has the right mixture of it and experience to potentially break through to the podium for the U.S. for the first time in quite some time.
Felix Neureuther, Germany
The massive favorite going into Sochi, Neureuther was unfortunately involved in a car accident and sustained injuries beforehand that have impacted his performance.
Days after the crash in which he suffered whiplash, bruised ribs and pulled ligaments in his back, Neureuther came in eighth in the men's giant slalom—the weaker of his two technical events.
He told reporters after the event that he can use the experience to build for the final event, via Annika Breidthardt of Reuters:
It's a massive miracle that I was able to start here today. It's a massive load off my mind. Olympic Games are only every four years - not being able to start here would have been really bitter for me.
I took a big risk to start and it has paid off because I now know I can compete on Saturday. That just makes me happy, really happy.
While his finish was by no means a worthy of a podium appearance, given the circumstances, it is one to celebrate. Christopher Clarey of The New York Times put it best:
For a guy with whiplash that was quite a run from Felix Neureuther. Still struggling to turn his neck two days ago #Sochi— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 19, 2014
Despite injuries, it is unwise to think Neureuther cannot make a run at the podium.
Mikaela Shiffrin, United States
Mikaela Shiffrin finished in fifth place in the giant slalom event.
Not bad for an 18-year-old rising star in her first Olympic event tasked with taking down Olympic legends such as Tina Maze.
Shiffrin now has experience to build on and says she will take the same approach into the slalom event, via Shira Springer of The Boston Globe:
“I’m going to do the same thing I tried to do today,” she said, “just race from the very start to the very finish. I’m going to try and take as much speed into the slalom as possible.”
A podium appearance is not out of the question now that Shiffrin has her first Olympic event under her belt. While the old guard is obviously something to watch in the event, the U.S. may have the next big thing on its hands in the sport if Shiffrin can emerge on the podium to close the Games.