Who defines the World Championships?
The Huntress for Gold: Lara Gut
Since 2005, Lara Gut has been responsible for all the World Championships medals won by the swiss women’s team. Three times Silver in the Downhill, Combined (both 2009) and Super-G (2013) as well as Bronze (Downhill 2015) – that’s a great balance, don’t you think? As Lara may well ask herself. The ambitious girl from Ticino is always on the look out to push the limits further. That means: Only the best is good enough. That means: Gold.
Just as all of us love it, she takes always with the riskiest line,is always very close to the gate, is always on the hunt for every hundreth of a second. We will see whether or not Lara Gut is finally awarded Gold. She has four very realistic chances, the very first to start on 7th Febuary in the Super-G. She won the first three races of the season, on the fourth leg she made a (just a little too) risky attack at a gate... Surely, she won’t change her style, especially on the mountain that she calls home.
The Wonder Girl: Mikaela Shiffin
Mikaela Shiffin will be just 22 years old in March. This is something that is easily forgotton when reading her balance sheet: 27 World Cup victories, 2 World Championships titles and 1 Olympic gold medal. In comparison: Her fellow countrywoman Lindsey Vonn had 4 World Cups at the same time of her career and neither World Championship nor Olympic Gold medals. Guided by her ambitious mother and blessed with an incredible talent, Shiffrin threatons to pulverize all the records. And after Shiffrin slammed everything in the slalom discipline, she now is the number 2 in the Giant Slalom and she missed the podium at Cortina in the Super-G by only three hundreths of a second.There's no better way to make the competitors any more nervous...
However, in the 1930’s Christl Cranz was able to celebrate 3 World Championships titles in a row in the Slalom, something which no other racer has ever succeeded in any other discipline so far. Shiffrin is capable of doing the same as Cranz and even more in the Slalom.
The Old Master: Lindsey Vonn
For more than 10 years now, Lindsey Vonn has impressed the World of Alpine Ski Racing, where by, "impressed" is a very subtle word for her work. She has taken the women’s skiing to another level, on the slopes and in terms of marketing. Whether she rode with men’s skis or whether she caused a sensation with her relationship to golf star Tiger Woods, Vonn sets the standard. And when all the glamour and posing have almost completely disappeared, Lindsey Vonn is one of the most extraordinary athletes this sport has ever seen. It’s been such a long time now that she has been spared from serious injuries, but in the meantime she had lost out with a whole series of violent accidents which repeatedly tore her out of the skiing circus for a long time. The fact that Vonn was only able to win 2 World Championship titles in her previous domination is actually a mockery. And that’s what makes her so dangerous for the competition, at any time, on every course, especially at the World Championships in St. Moritz.
The Phenomenon: Beat Feuz
After Beat Feuz landed in the net on his run on the Streif with clearly the best time, he came limping slightly to his interview. Responding to the anxious question from the reporter, whether this was the result of the fall, Feuz said: "No, no,...this is how I always walk." When the knee of the Emmentaler was really broken it almost had to be amputated. Since then he has reduced the training to a minimum and yet he came to the World Championships rehearsal last year on Corviglia and won at the World Cup Final both Downhill and Super-G. Does this make Feuz now the worst best example of all training shy youngsters? Only if they have as much skiing feeling as Feuz. And hardly anyone has it. So just enjoy how perfectly he steers all the radii, how compact he stays on the jumps and how unresponsive he reacts to delicate scenes. Feuz is a phenomenon and the home World Championships, is for him, the ideal stage.
The Wonderboy: Marcel Hirscher
If nothing exceptional happens, Marcel Hirscher is set to win the overall World Cup at the end of the season for the sixth time in row. Who would have thought that such a thing was possible in male sport with its incredible talent at the top? But who could have guessed that there was a man that can show us race after race what an extraordinary skier, athlete and personality he is? One of Hirscher’s favourite sayings is: "I’m not a Wunderwuzzi". Which is, of course, totally rubbish. Because he is a wonder boy, the lovely Salzburger. A Wonder Boy, who can speed up, when others can only just slide through; who can carve, where others just helplessly drift. He is like his Father - the great tinkerer Ferdinand – who can create the set up between two runs in such a way that he is already alone ahead while the other top racer is already a second behind. In Slalom (Kristoffersen) and Giant Slalom (Pinturault), Hirscher has outstanding opponetns, who spur him even more. That’s how champions are made.
The eternal elks: The Norwegians
OK, it’s probably not quite right, but the last candidate who will shape the World Championships is not one lone fighter. But a country, that has for the last 90 years remained constant at the top of competitive skiing. Norway remains in the eternal Men's World Championships mirror ranked 4th - ahead of USA, Italy and Germany. From the golden generation with Aamodt, kKus, Skaardal followed by Svindal and Jansrud, they have now been claimed by Kristoffersen and Kilde. Svindal, a team leader that only one can wish for, will be missing from St. Moritz, injured. But the elks do not want to return home without a medal this time. Last time that happened to them was in 1989. The Norwegians have always benefitted from very strong characters who still manage to help each other onwards to become top performers. And if someone now thinks that a whole country cannot be on the list, then let’s give the whole thing a name: Kjetil Aamodt Kildefferson.