Alpine Skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics

Especially for the Games Sochi started to create an Alpine skiing area named Rosa Khutor Alpine Center back in 2007. The name originates from the geographical region, which was almost untouched wilderness at that time and is located about 50 kilometres away from Sochi and the Black Sea in the Caucasus Mountains. All slopes were designed by ski architect, FIS (International Ski Federation) technical advisor, and 1972 Olympic gold medalist Bernhard Russi and ended in the same finishing area at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. Pre-Olympic events – the first ever Alpine skiing World Cup races in Russia – were held in February 2012 with a downhill race for both men and women and a men’s Super Combined, while the women’s Super Combined was cancelled due to heavy snow.

The qualification process started in July 2012 and the criteria allowed almost every country to enter at least one skier if they had a minimum standard of FIS Points and results. However there was a dispute in October 2013 when the FIS announced that with a total number of 320 spots the leading nations will not be able to nominate the maximum of 22 athletes, but the problem was solved quickly when the total spots were increased to 350. Finally 327 competitors (of whom 314 participated) were entered, with only Austria entered the maximum of 22 skiers. For the first time ever Malta, Timor-Leste, and Zimbabwe entered athletes in the Winter Games, which they did in Alpine skiing, and additionally Togo and Thailand (with the musician Vanessa-Mae) competed for the first time in Alpine skiing.

The program was unchanged and still saw 10 events, as a team event was again denied by the IOC in July 2011. Also unchanged was the format of the Super Combined which was first held at Vancouver in 2010. The starting order for speed events has been changed again since the last Olympics. Now the top seven of the World Cup Starting List (WCSL) are drawn for bib numbers from 16 to 22, while the second part of the top group, ranked from eighth to 15th, are drawn for bib numbers eight to 15. The second group, world ranked 16 to 30, are drawn for the numbers one to seven or 23 to 30. Unusually for recent Games the weather did not prove to be an obstacle and all events went ahead on their scheduled days. Due to the generally warm weather some events like the men’s Super G were moved to an earlier starting time to ensure good conditions. Other events, such as the women’s giant slalom, saw heavy rain, snowfall, and fog, which caused poor visibility at some points on the course.

Following their disappointment at the previous Games, Austria proved to be the top Alpine skiing nation with nine medals, three of them gold, ahead of the United States (five medals, two of which were gold) and their traditional rivals Switzerland (three medals, two of which were gold). Slovenia also won two gold medals through the efforts of Tina Maze, who was the most successful Alpine skier in Sochi as the only competitor to win two gold medals. In all 10 different nations won medals and there were plaudits for the Russian hosts who, although not reaching a podium, tried hard to be competitive. As usual events were won by clear favorites like Ted Ligety or Mikaela Shiffrin, but there were also some surprising winners like Matthias Mayer and Sandro Viletta. Some skiiers disappointed, such as Aksel Lund Svindal, who had won a complete set of medals four years ago in Vancouver, and showed great performances before the Games, as he was second in the overall World Cup, but failed to medal in Sochi. American Lindsey Vonn, one of the dominate skiers in the last years did not compete in Sochi after tearing her right ACL twice in 2013. Also two reigning French World Champions from 2013, Marion Rolland (downhill) and Tessa Worley (giant slalom), missed the Games with ACL tears. Bad luck also haunted Tina Weirather, at that time second in the women’s Overall World Cup and a strong medal contender in speed events, who was not even able to compete at Sochi after a fall in the last downhill training run causing a shin contusion.

For the first time in Alpine skiing there was a shared gold, when Maze and Swiss Dominique Gisin tied in the women’s downhill. Mario Matt set an age record in becoming the oldest ever Olympic Alpine skiing champion by winning the slalom event. He followed in the footsteps of Bode Miller who had become the oldest ever Olympic Alpine skiing medalist only six days earlier, when he won a shared bronze in the Super G together with Jan Hudec, who won the first Olympic Alpine skiing medal for Canada after 20 years. At the other end of the results list Hubertus von Hohenlohe set two records by becoming the oldest ever Alpine skiing competitor, at 55 years of age, and also became the second Alpine skier to participate in six Winter Games equaling Marco Büchel. But youth was served when US youngster Mikaela Shiffrin become the youngest ever slalom champion at only 18-years-old and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen become the youngest ever male medalist in Alpine skiing, aged 19.

The most successful ski manufacturer in Sochi was Head who won a total of 11 medals with five golds, followed by Stöckli with two gold medals won by Tina Maze. Atomic won four medals (one gold), but they had to wait until the last two events (both slaloms) to find their way to the podium; however, they had a clean sweep in women’s slalom. In total nine different ski companies won medals.

Events

Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Downhill, Men Olympic 9 February 2014 49 23
Super G, Men Olympic 16 February 2014 63 28
Giant Slalom, Men Olympic 19 February 2014 107 60
Slalom, Men Olympic 22 February 2014 115 61
Super Combined, Men Olympic 14 February 2014 50 24
Downhill, Women Olympic 12 February 2014 41 22
Super G, Women Olympic 15 February 2014 49 24
Giant Slalom, Women Olympic 18 February 2014 89 48
Slalom, Women Olympic 21 February 2014 85 48
Super Combined, Women Olympic 10 February 2014 39 21
314 (184/130) 73 (69/55)

Medals

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Downhill, Men Matthias MayerAUT Christof InnerhoferITA Kjetil JansrudNOR
Super G, Men Kjetil JansrudNOR Andrew WeibrechtUSA Jan Hudec
Bode Miller
CAN
USA
Giant Slalom, Men Ted LigetyUSA Steve MissillierFRA Alexis PinturaultFRA
Slalom, Men Mario MattAUT Marcel HirscherAUT Henrik KristoffersenNOR
Combined, Men Sandro VilettaSUI Ivica KostelićCRO Christof InnerhoferITA
Downhill, Women Tina Maze
Dominique Gisin
SLO
SUI
Lara GutSUI
Super G, Women Anna FenningerAUT Maria Höfl-RieschGER Nicole HospAUT
Giant Slalom, Women Tina MazeSLO Anna FenningerAUT Viktoria RebensburgGER
Slalom, Women Mikaela ShiffrinUSA Marlies SchildAUT Kathrin ZettelAUT
Combined, Women Maria Höfl-RieschGER Nicole HospAUT Julia MancusoUSA

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Austria AUT 3 4 2 9
United States USA 2 1 2 5
Switzerland SUI 2 0 1 3
Slovenia SLO 2 0 0 2
Germany GER 1 1 1 3
Norway NOR 1 0 2 3
France FRA 0 1 1 2
Italy ITA 0 1 1 2
Croatia CRO 0 1 0 1
Canada CAN 0 0 1 1