PyeongChang 2018 alpine team event preview
PYEONGCHANG – The first new alpine skiing event at the Olympic Winter Games since 1988, when super-G was introduced, will debut on Saturday. The alpine team event promises to offer something very different to the more traditional Olympic Winter Games skiing competitions.
Usually a solo sport, skiing's team event features athletes attempting to beat a rival head-to-head, rather than going against the clock, making for a highly exciting addition to the Olympic program.
Competition takes place at Yongpyong Alpine Centre starting at 11:00 KST on Saturday 24 February.
Participating NOCs will compete in heats consisting of two pairs, with the highest-ranking NOC racing the lowest-ranking NOC in the first round.
Teams of up to four racers (at least two men and two women, in addition to a maximum of two reserves) from the same NOC try to beat their opponents, side-by-side, in a race to the bottom of a short parallel course marked with giant slalom gates every 10 meters. Individual skiers face an opponent of the same gender in each heat.
A point is scored for every head-to-head won. If both skiers fall, the athlete who skied further down the course takes the point, and if the match-up results in two wins each, the cumulative time difference comes into play.
Getting a quick start is vital on a run that usually takes less than 30 seconds, and with one run happening almost immediately after the previous one, it is a tiring contest in which team spirit plays a key role.
Sixteen nations will participate, the top 16 NOCs based on the overall World Cup Nations Cup standings after the last World Cup race prior to the Games.
It is a straight knockout, with the winners of each heat moving forward to the next round. The unbeaten nations end up in a final, with a bronze medal race held for the defeated semifinalists.
Alpine team skiing has been raced for more than a decade on the World Championship stage, with Austria (three wins), France (two wins), and Germany (one win) leading the way in previous major events.
- Austria has won the alpine team event a record three times at the World Championships – in 2007, 2013, and 2015.
- France has also won multiple world titles in this event, in 2011 and 2017, while Germany won the inaugural edition in 2005.
- Austria and Sweden have claimed a joint-record five World Championship podiums in this event.
- Michaela KIRCHGASSER (AUT), who is not competing in PyeongChang 2018, holds the record with three wins in this event at World Championships, having been part of all three Austrian winning teams.
- France won this event at the last World Championships and could claim its first Olympic alpine skiing gold medal in 12 years, since Antoine DENERIAZ won the men's downhill at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
- France could win four medals in alpine skiing at a single Winter Games for the second time in the last 50 years, after it won four at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
- Sweden has won two alpine skiing medals at PyeongChang 2018, both gold. The NOC could win three medals in alpine skiing at a Winter Games for the second time, after winning four at Torino 2006. Sweden has never won three gold medals in alpine skiing at a single Winter Games.
- Slovakia finished second in this event at the 2017 World Championships. The NOC has yet to claim an Olympic medal in alpine skiing. Slovakia has claimed Olympic medals in two winter sports: biathlon and snowboard.
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