Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener is installed as hot favourite for Friday’s alpine combined event at the World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden.
Neither Mikaela Shiffrin nor outgoing US teammate Lindsey Vonn will compete in the event.
AFP looks at five things to know ahead of Friday’s race.
Shiffrin Managing Energy
Newly-crowned world super-G champion Mikaela Shiffrin said the decision not to race was taken to best manage her energy levels. “My team and I have finally decided that competing in AC will be too much to manage in this world championships,” said the three-time defending world slalom champion. Vonn is to retire after Saturday’s downhill. Requiring further knee surgery once she hangs up her catsuit, her participation in the combined was never a question.
Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener is the reigning world champion and will go into the event as hot favourite. Holdener picked up Olympic slalom silver in Pyeongchang and looked more than comfortable in the final downhill training run. If she can hold her nerve to deliver anything better than an average run in either of the disciplines, she will have a strong chance of topping the podium. Either way, Holdener will be carrying Swiss hopes after Olympic combined champion Michelle Gisin was ruled out of these worlds with a knee injury.
Season’s Maiden Combined
Two of the season’s three scheduled combined events, in Val d’Isere and Val Gardena, were cancelled because of inclement weather conditions. That means that Are will host the opening event of the year.
The alpine combined remains the ultimate challenge for all-around skiers. First up is downhill on the Olympia course, followed by a floodlit slalom. The top 30 finishers in the downhill start in reverse order in the slalom, often making for a nail-biting climax as the technical skiers makeup time on the out-and-out downhillers.
There will be bragging rights to be won in the combined, the final one to be held at world championships. Its more general future is also under threat given the time it demands, as racers have to have at least one downhill training run. The event has suffered in recent years, with the number of combined races scheduled on the World Cup circuit now standing at just three a season. The event is due to be stopped altogether in the 2019-2020 World Cup season, while its inclusion at the 2022 Beijing Games is at the mercy of an International Olympic Committee decision.
© Agence France-Presse