Alpine ski worlds have been anything but predictable | Skiing | CBC Sports CBC Sports - Sochi 2014

SkiingAlpine ski worlds have been anything but predictable

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 | 12:02 AM

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Austria's Marcel Hirscher, shown here competing at an event last month, is one of the favourites to win the slalom and giant slalom at the alpine ski worlds in Schladming, Austria. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images) Austria's Marcel Hirscher, shown here competing at an event last month, is one of the favourites to win the slalom and giant slalom at the alpine ski worlds in Schladming, Austria. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

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As the alpine skiing world championships continue in Schladming, Austria, the focus is now squarely on the technical events which entail the slalom and giant slalom. But these worlds have been anything but predictable so far.
As the alpine skiing world championships continue in Schladming, Austria, the focus is now squarely on the technical events which entail the slalom and giant slalom.  

The host nation, usually dominant, has only won two bronze medals thus far and continues to strive for that top spot.   

Austrian fans are now feeling the tension, and the pressure seems to have found a resting place upon Marcel Hirscher's shoulders.

A favourite to win the giant slalom and slalom events, Hirscher will have to go through Ted Ligety -- a two-time world champion in super-G and super-combined already -- in order to come up victorious.   

This will be no easy task especially with the extra weight he is carrying. However, if anyone can do it I expected Hirscher to carry that load of expectation extremely well. 

If anything, I expect him to flourish in it.  

Regardless of statistical favourites, these world championships have been anything but predictable with many surprising athletes finding themselves standing on the coveted steps of glory.  

Surprises included athletes like Marion Rolland (downhill world champion), Ted Ligety (super-G world champion), Maria Hoefl-Riesch (world champion in combined), Gauthier De Tessieres (second in super-G), and finally Nicole Hosp (third in super-combined).

Some of these names are those of past champions and true talent, so it doesn't seem like such a surprise until you look a little deeper.  

Rolland has never won a World Cup event and has only two World Cup Medals to her name.  

Ligety has only one World Cup super-G podium ever, and that was back in 2009. 

Hoefl-Riesch wasn't a real shocker, however her win was vindication as she has been heavily criticized for her move to Austria and very intentional split from the German team. 

The media claimed her move to distance herself from Germany caused her to fall from overall title contention. Therefore, her winning the super-combined event and a third-place finish in the downhill must have felt great. 

World Cup podium

De Tessieres is a 32-year-old athlete who has only found the World Cup podium once in his career, in a grand slalom event back in 2008.  

He is a truly nice guy and this podium will be well celebrated by himself and his compatriots to the fullest extent. 

Finally, Hosp was a welcome surprise for Austria as she was an unlikely athlete to grab their first podium of the championships. 

A once dominant World Cup athlete, she has only found the podium four times in the last four years, all coming in super-combined events. Although she has struggled to find her form since a knee injury in Solden, 2009 she remained a fan favourite in Austria, making her podium finish that much sweeter. 

I wonder if this podium will be one of her most cherished successes as it's been a struggle to reach it.  

As the technical events near I can't help but wonder what surprises await us. 

Of course, as an unbiased member of the media (I say this with thick sarcasm) it is my hope Canada will be among the surprise podiums sure to make waves in Schladming.  

Although our men's technical team has struggled entering these championships, their talent and former performances are real. It may be a long shot to expect a podium, however, a shot still exists, especially with Mike Janyk leading the slalom charge. He'll be followed closely by Julien Cousineau, who now has 'daddy power'.  

Our women's team is strong in both giant slalom and slalom and expect great things from themselves. They are keyed up for this event and will hopefully use it as a dress rehearsal for Sochi.  

They may not be the most experienced group, but that is often an advantage.  

As wise coaches around the world continue to preach to their athletes, "keep it simple stupid".  

So go forth, Canada, simply ski as you can!  

We will be cheering you on, and if that isn't enough, assume all those red and white flags you see waving in the packed finish area were printer errors and in fact it's all Canadians there supporting you!

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