So we have learned all about what ski racing is and what the different types of races are, now it is time to talk about who are the athletes racing in them. Ski racing is broken into a mens and ladies format. The men race against other men and ladies against other ladies (unless you’re Lindsey Vonn… you want to change that.) The ladies race most of the time at a different location entirley than the men do at different points of the year. Sometimes they are at the same venue the same weekend but that is usually in the beginning and end of the year when there aren’t very many places that have snow.
I am going to talk about the main title contenders for the Ladies Overall Cup. The rest of the characters you will be able to find from watching the racing or from reading about it, such as in this blog!
The cool thing about ski racing is that sometimes the title race plays out without the top two contenders ever even racing against each other. This happens because certain people are really good at one discipline and most racers do not race in every discipline. A racer will either be a technical (Slalom and Giant Slalom) specialist or a speed specialist (Super G and Downhill.) The real magic moments of ski racing are when the two title contenders go up against one another head to head and that is where the champion is made.
So lets dive in to who are the main competetors in Ladies World Cup Ski Racing. These are the people who have the biggest shot at winning the title at the end of the year and they will be the most talked about.
Lets start off with “little” Lara Gut. She is the defending World Champion. Lara stands 5′ 3″ tall and weighs only 128 lbs. She is from Switzerland and races on the Swiss Alpine Team. Lara is twenty-five years old and has been a professional skier since she was 16. She fell in love with skiing when her family used to take trips to different countries over the Summer and they would just ski. Her parent’s are both teachers so they would be able to take the whole Summer off. Lara can be found always with a smile on her face and a postive outlook to give. Of anyone out there Lara seems to enjoy her life the most because she is doing what she loves, skiing.
Lara is a skier who does every event besides slalom. Being so small and light she does not fit the cliche of big speed racers. Usually a speed specialist is big and heavy because of simple physics, bigger means more momentum, also if you are bigger you can’t make the agile turns of slalom and GS as easy as someone smaller. Gut defies all that and being so small she is able to get into a tighter more aerodynamic tuck than most of her competitors.
Gut has thrived in the speed events, but most of her career she has been overshadowed by Lindsey Vonn. She was always just behind Vonn. Until last year when Vonn was injured and missed the last few races of the season. Vonn was in first place at the time with Gut, where she had been all season, second. Gut was able to hang on for the win and win her first ever Overall Title to become Champion of the World.
Now Gut looks to prove that she was not just lucky and that she deserves to be a champion. Gut seems to be more comforatble in her role now that she has won a championship. She seems to have gotten a monkey off her back and is now more confident and seems like a whole lot better skier.
In my next post I will highlight American slalom phenom Mikaela Shiffrin.