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Our Fantasy Ski Team Is the Team to Beat All Fantasy Teams

No, we didn't just pick power couple Mikaela Shiffrin and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and call it good.

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I was never much into fantasy sports, in part because at my first “real” job out of college, the office manager made me enter his fantasy football picks every Friday—while he sat with his feet propped up on his desk.

But then a few years later (at a far better job), those of us on the masthead at Ski Racing Magazine fielded fantasy ski teams. I was skeptical at first but soon became more engaged in the alpine World Cup, following more skiers than just the top Americans.

Back then, our fantasy teams had six positions: two for the overall and one each for downhill, super-G, giant slalom, and slalom. Teams were coed, and we could pick up “free agents” if our skiers became injured or were having a bad year. Once I dropped Veronica Zuzulova for Nicole Hosp, who ended up finishing fourth overall, my team had a banner year. Thank you, Nicole. Oh, and Bennie Raich, too!

Winner got the right to trash talk the rest of the staff.

Even without a water cooler to gather ’round for teasing and trading (“I’ll give you Miller and Ligety for Marlies Schild”), picking a fantasy team can still keep you engaged in the goings-on of the World Cup.

The proposed 2022-’23 fantasy league will have a similar structure, except only one spot in the overall. And no repeats. So dang, we can’t just populate our team with power couple Mikaela Shiffrin and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and call it good.

Here’s a look at our SKIteam, a fantasy team to beat all fantasy teams.

2022-’23 Fantasy SKIteam Picks

Overall: Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)

Mikaela Shiffrin skis St. Moritz World Cup 2021
Mikaela Shiffrin hurls herself down the women’s World Cup super-G course in St. Moritz, Switzerland on December 12, 2021. (Photo: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Shiffrin may have “only” won two World Cup slaloms last season, but the 27-year-old finished on the podium in over half of the World Cups that she entered. And her comfort with speed continued to show; she won the downhill at the 2022 World Cup Finals and finished second in super-G. In what some considered an “off” season for Shiffrin, she won her fourth overall World Cup title, finishing almost 200 points ahead of slalom rival Petra Vlhova.

From the snippets we’ve seen of her summer training in Chile, Shiffrin is already looking strong, so the SKIteam expects her to tally big points toward the overall. We’ll take those points and bank ’em!

Why not pick Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt, who won the 2022 men’s overall World Cup title with a whopping 1,775 points (almost 300 ahead of Shiffrin)? Because the SKIteam wants him in our GS slot.

Downhill: Sofia Goggia (ITA)

Sofia Goggia Beijing downhill
Goggia skied with her signature “devil-may-care” style, pushing the limit on her injured leg to take Olympic silver in the women’s downhill. (Photo: Getty Images)

Norway’s attacking Viking, Aleksander Amodt Kilde, was tops in the men’s downhill standings last season, tallying 620 points. But the SKIteam is going with Italian Sofia Goggia. And not just because she’s fast and funny—and a real team player (she loaned her medal-winning downhill skis to Shiffrin to use in the combined during the 2022 Olympics). The 29-year-old Italian won her third overall downhill title last season and an Olympic silver medal. And she won that medal and finished out the season on a banged-up left knee.

Why not Switzerland’s Beat Feuz for the downhill spot? The Swiss speed skier finally won the Olympic downhill title last February. He also has four downhill discipline titles on his resume and fell just 13 points shy of winning his fifth last season (behind Kilde). But at age 35, Feuz is in the autumn of his ski-racing career, and how much fire does he have left now that he’s captured the coveted Olympic gold?

(U.S. pick: Breezy Johnson)

If the league gets jingoistic, with U.S.-only picks, we’ll go with Breezy Johnson for the downhill slot. Until she crashed hard (twice) last season, Johnson, 26, was in third in the World Cup downhill standings. She had surgery on February 4 to repair the ACL and cartilage in her right knee. Johnson has been training hard through recovery and was back on snow in Chile this summer, and we think she is capable of adding to her seven World Cup podiums again soon.

Super-G: Ryan Cochran-Siegle (USA)

Ryan Corchran-Siegle celebrates Olympic silver
Ryan Cochran-Siegle celebrates his silver-medal-winning run into the finish area of the men’s Super-G on day four of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. (Photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

A smart team manager would have gone with Kilde, who won four (of seven) World Cup super-Gs last season and claimed his second super-G title, finishing 118 points ahead of runner-up Matthias Mayer, the two-time Olympic super-G champ from Austria.

Or with Italian Federica Brignone, 32, who won the 2022 women’s super-G title.

Or even with reigning Olympic super-G champion Lara Gut-Behrami, 31, from Switzerland.

But the SKIteam has a soft spot for RCS. His Olympic silver medal in super-G speaks volumes. Sure, he lacked consistency in World Cups last season, but he finished in the top 11 four times (in seven super-Gs) and climbed to a best-ever sixth place in the super-G standings. The 30-year-old Vermonter’s performance in Beijing likely drove home what it takes to reach the podium.

Read more: Competing among ski racing’s elite is family tradition for RCS

Giant Slalom: Marco Odermatt (SUI)

Swiss racer Marco Odermatt
Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt on his way to his first World Cup season title in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia on March 13, 2022. (Photo: JURE MAKOVEC/AFP via Getty Images)

This pick is easy. Last season, no skier dominated an alpine discipline like Odermatt. The 24-year-old smiling Swiss won four (of eight) World Cup GS races last season and finished on the podium in the other four, tallying almost twice as many points in the GS standings as runner-up Henrik Kristoffersen from Norway. Oh, and Odermatt also claimed the Olympic GS gold medal and the overall crystal globe.

Neither Sweden’s Sara Hector, who won the 2022 Olympic GS title, or French veteran Tessa Worley, who claimed the overall GS crystal globe, came close to the points that Odermatt tallied.

(U.S. pick: River Radamus)

With a sixth place in the 2021 Sölden World Cup GS, River Radamus announced himself as an up-and-coming Mr. GS. He finished in the points in every World Cup GS and punctuated his season with a fourth place at the Beijing Olympics. The domestic arm of the SKIteam will be looking for big points from 24-year-old Radamus this season.

Slalom: Petra Vlhova (SVK)

Slovakia's Petra Vlhova Beijing Slalom
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova holds her breath in the finish area hoping her second run time holds to secure her an Olympic medal. In the end, she won gold. (Photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

It seems odd not to pick Shiffrin for the slalom slot. But Petra Vlhova, 27, has finally figured out the American’s slalom secret. Or more likely, she has developed one of her own. In 2022, the Slovakian slalom ace won five World Cup slaloms—and the coveted Olympic gold medal. And she racked up more than 200 World Cup slalom points over her American rival. In fact, Vlhova was almost as dominant in women’s slalom as Odermatt was in men’s GS.

On the men’s side, Henrik Kristoffersen—Norway’s perennial slalom ace—won his third World Cup slalom title but not in as dominant a fashion as Vlhova.

Interesting factoid: Kristoffersen claimed the men’s World Cup slalom title with only 451 slalom points. Shiffrin earned more (501) but still trailed Vlhova by 269 points and finished second in the standings.

(U.S. pick: Paula Moltzan)

The SKIteam would love to have Shiffrin in its domestic team’s slalom slot. But she can’t do it all in fantasy skiing. So we’ll take Paula Moltzan, who recently announced herself on Instagram as the new Mrs. Mooney (she married longtime boyfriend and ski technician Ryan Mooney on September 8). With a couple of top sevens in World Cup slaloms last season and her eighth at the Beijing Olympics, the former NCAA slalom champion and whitewater rafting guide is not easily ruffled by anything.

Related: After being cut from the U.S. Ski Team, Paula Moltzan battled her way to Beijing

For next year, our scouts have their eyes on Luke Winters. Even after missing a few World Cup slaloms last season (or not qualifying for a second run in others), the 25-year-old Oregonian became the first U.S. man in five years to qualify for World Cup Finals in slalom, where he finished seventh. And in one race earlier in the season, he skied from bib 43 into tenth. With more experience (and a higher bib number), Winters will likely make the SKIteam’s fantasy roster.