Guide to the Olympics: Downhill

Like thoroughbred racing but with more cowbells, downhill races seem to be the most captivating event at the Olympics. Go to watch the Austrians and ski racing’s favorite girl, Lindsey Vonn.
Lindsey Vonn

There’s something captivating about spandex-clad competitors hurtling down a mountain faster than most people drive. In downhill, racers willingly point their skis down an ice-impregnated, two-mile course filled with nail-biting turns and massive jumps. Not much has changed since the 1948 Olympic debut of the sport. Today competitors go a little faster, wear high-tech speed suits, and use every modern ski-tuning method available to shave off a hundredth of a second. But ultimately it’s still a question of who has the huevos to hold a turn on blue ice at 80 miles an hour. The undisputed answer: Austrians. Since 1948, they’ve had more Olympic downhill podiums than any other country. And in the men’s current FIS standings, Austrians hold the top three spots. If you’re watching this year’s spectacle in person, go to the grandstand at the bottom of Whistler’s Dave Murray Downhill course, where the final jump, named Hot Air, will launch competitors up to 60 feet into the finish line. Plus, you’ll be closer to beer and farther from the cursed cowbell ringers.

Ones to Watch: Austrians and Lindsey Vonn.

Austria’s Michael Walchhofer, who took silver at the 2006 Olympics, may be the crowd favorite. But instead, watch his countryman Klaus Kroell. He took 22nd in Torino and was 19th on the FIS circuit in 2006. Last winter, Kroell won the Hahnenkamm downhill with a broken hand. This year, he’s second on the FIS circuit and poised to upset the older Walchhofer. And don’t forget America's own Lindsey Vonn (left). Currently first in FIS downhill standings, Vonn has more World Cup wins than any other U.S. female racer.

Also, check out a guide to:

Ski Cross




Ski Cross

Guide to the Olympics: Ski Cross

Welcome to the throwdown, year one, also known as ski cross. A Winter X Games event since 1998, ski cross premieres this year as an event in the Winter Olympics. If you are wondering about gold, make sure to watch the two former ski racers, Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett, participating in the event.

Vonn in gold, Mancuso in silver

Women's Downhill: Vonn Takes Gold, Mancuso Takes Silver

After a much hyped shin injury (Lindsey Vonn) and a made-for-TV rivalry (Lindsey and fellow racer Julia Mancuso), the results of today's women's downhill from the Winter Olympic Games in Whistler are finally in. We're so thankful all the hype was worth it.

Olympic Moguls

Guide to the Olympics: Moguls

The precursor to slopestyle, moguls are as close as you will get to watching off-axis 720’s. Twenty-three year old American mogul skier Hannah Kearney seems like a promising gold medal pick for the event, held at Cyprus Mountain, just 20 miles from Vancouver.


Lindsey vs. Julia: Catfight?

One girl's a media darling with a banged up shin and a medley of World Cup victories. The other is a Victoria's Secret-style vixen with a bad back and a gold medal. Ski racer Lindsey Vonn wants what Julia Mancuso's already got: an Olympic gold. You can watch them go head to head during Wednesday's Olympic downhill in Whistler.

Jean-Baptiste Grange

Guide to the Winter Olympics: Slalom Ski

It’s all about precision. And personality. Historically slalom racers have gone on to become racecar drivers, actors, and even personalities branded with their own perfume line. Check out our picks for racers we think might podium or have a future in Hollywood.

Lindsey's Brother's New Haircut

Vonn Bakes Banana Bread Before Today's Downhill

How does the best skier in the world prepare for today's Olympic downhill race? If you're Lindsey Vonn, you bake banana bread and shave your little brother's head. And your family gets together for a regular, 'ol Midwestern party—minus the karaoke and cheese curds.

Julia and Lindsey Celebrating

1-2 USA: Celebrating Ski History

Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso made history yesterday when they claimed the gold and silver in the ladies downhill. We were there while they toasted glasses of champagne and celebrated with friends and family.

Julia Mancuso

Vonn Crashes; Julia Cries in Women's GS

It was an unlucky day for America's two top female ski racers: Lindsey Vonn crashed into the fence during the GS race and obstructed the run of her teammate Julia Mancuso, who was granted a rerun but finished a disappointing 1.30 seconds behind the current leader. The second run of the race takes place Thursday.