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There’s T minus 0 days until the 2021-’22 World Cup officially gets underway with the traditional first stop of the Tour in Sölden, Austria on Saturday, Oct. 23. And with a little more than 100 days to go until the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China, this World Cup season will be one to watch, as each World Cup race will count towards qualification for the Winter Olympics.
What’s more: the U.S. Ski Team is more stacked than it has been in years. Yes, there’s multi-event superstar Mikaela Shiffrin, but she’s no longer the only American for us to pin our hopes and dreams of U.S. medals on. There’s downhiller Breezy Johnson, who established herself as a new staple on the women’s downhill podium last season; tech specialist Paula Moltzan, who’s tearing up the women’s slalom courses; and Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who proved himself a top contender in the men’s speed events after twice storming the podium last winter.
In short, the U.S. Ski Team is rolling deeper than it has in years, and this weekend’s opening World Cup giant slalom in Sölden is only the very beginning of what should be an exceptionally exciting racing season. And in other good news, World Cup racing will once again return to U.S. snow, with the traditional men’s Birds of Prey race in Beaver Creek, Colo., and women’s tech races in Killington, Vt., back on the World Cup schedule this season.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021-’22 World Cup Tour to follow the action.Section divider
Americans to Watch this Season
Specialty: Slalom, everything
For Shiffrin (Vail, Colo.), last season was all about finding her groove again after the death of her father and the onset of the pandemic during the 2019-’20 World Cup Tour. To no one’s surprise, she staged a successful comeback and ended the 2021 Tour ranked third in the world overall. But for the second time in as many years, she did not add to her Crystal Globe collection in any discipline, a trend she’ll surely be looking to upend this season.
While Shiffrin opted to skip the majority of speed events last season in favor of focusing on her speciality, the technical events, she announced that she is planning to return to speed courses again this season. And that includes the speed races at the Beijing Olympics.
“I’m dreaming about being able to compete in each event in China,” Shiffrin said in a virtual press conference. “But that means I have to do a lot more preparation—understanding how that is going to affect me mentally and physically throughout the three weeks that we’re there.”
Only a few athletes on the World Cup circuit opt to race in all events because of how demanding it is—both on their bodies and their schedules. It means competing (and traveling) almost every weekend during the heart of the racing season, without a rest period.
But Shiffrin has set her sights on the first women’s speed events of the season at Lake Louise, Alberta, Dec. 3-5, and will determine the rest of her schedule from there. What’s certain is that she will be kicking off her season with the giant slalom in Sölden on Saturday, Oct. 23, followed by the traditional slalom race in Levi, Finland and a return to Killington, Vt. for the women’s World Cup slalom and GS events over Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 27-28.
Whether Shiffrin has a shot at a fourth Overall World Cup title depends on how many races and disciplines she decides to enter throughout the season. But chances are good that she’ll be a top contender for Olympic medals and the World Cup title in the slalom and giant slalom disciplines.
Specialty: Speed events
Cochran-Siegle (Burlington, Vt.) led the U.S. men in the World Cup standings last season, rounding out the 2021 Tour ranked 15th in the world in downhill and 16th in super-G. The 29 year-old nabbed his first career World Cup podiums last winter—a second-place finish in the Val Gardena downhill, and a victory in the Bormio super-G.
His season came to an abrupt end after he crashed in the famed Hahnenkamm downhill on Jan. 22, 2021 and sustained a neck injury, which forced him to miss the final races of the season, including the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
But after an extended off-season, Cochran-Siegle will return to snow for the first race of the season in Sölden, Austria. While giant slalom isn’t his speciality, Cochran-Siegle regularly cracks the top 20 in the event, and he’ll be one to watch in the races leading up to the Beijing Olympics, where he’s considered to be a medal contender in the speed disciplines.
After back-to-back season-ending injuries in 2018 and 2019, Johnson (Jackson, Wyo.) made a triumphant return to the World Cup racing in 2020. She was a regular fixture on the women’s World Cup downhill podium last season, claiming third-place in four consecutive races. She was also a favorite to win a medal in the speed events at the Cortina World Championships, but disappointing starts in the super-G and downhill kept those medals out of reach.
This season, the U.S. Ski Team veteran will undoubtedly be on the hunt for more World Cup podium finishes, an Olympic medal, and the women’s World Cup Downhill title. All are within her grasp if she can stay healthy and ski the way she did last season. Johnson’s first expected race start will be at the Lake Louise speed races, Nov. 27-28.
Moltzan (Prior Lake, Minn.) was last season’s dark horse on the women’s World Cup slalom circuit. The 27-year-old, who for years struggled to earn her way onto the U.S. Ski Team, finally found some consistency on the slalom course last season and ended the winter ranked 12th in the world in slalom. On top of that, she claimed her first World Cup podium in last season’s parallel event in Lech, Austria.
Moltzan will undoubtedly be looking to improve upon last season with more World Cup podium finishes in slalom, which will also bring her closer to qualifying for her first-ever Winter Olympics. Moltzan’s season begins with the Sölden GS on Saturday.
Specialty: Giant slalom
O’Brien (San Francisco, Calif.), last year’s U.S. National Champion in super-G, is still an up-and-comer on the World Cup circuit. But she’s coming off her best World Cup season to date, which she ended ranked 15th in the world in giant slalom.
While she has historically struggled with consistency and frequent DNFs in races, O’Brien seems to have hit her stride in GS last season. Of note: She posted some particularly impressive second runs that were among the fastest race times, proving she has the chops to go head to head with the fastest ladies in the world. Like Moltzan, O’Brien will be looking to make the U.S. Olympic team for the first time. Keep an eye on O’Brien in the season-opening GS in Sölden on Saturday.
Specialty: Giant Slalom
Ford (Bend, Ore.), a 13-year-veteran of the U.S. Ski Team, made waves in 2019 when he became the first American man to win a World Cup tech race since 2017. Ford went on to claim two more podiums in the last two seasons, and ended the 2021 winter ranked 15th in the world in giant slalom.
But like Cochran-Siegle, Ford ended up missing the tail end of the 2021 season and the Cortina World Championships after crashing and sustaining a knee injury in the Adelboden giant slalom on Jan. 9, 2021.
The injury, which required surgery on his knee and hand, has proved difficult to come back from, and Ford is not on the start list for the opening GS in Sölden this Sunday. However, the three-time Olympian hopes to make his comeback in time to head to Beijing come February.Section divider
2021-’22 Alpine World Cup Schedule
Oct. 24: Sölden, Austria – Giant Slalom
Nov. 14: Lech/Zürs, Austria – Parallel
Nov. 26-28: Lake Louise, Alb. – 2x Downhill, Super-G
Dec. 3-5: Beaver Creek, Colo. – 2x Super-G, Downhill
Dec. 11-12: Val d’Isere, France – Giant Slalom, Slalom
Dec. 17-18: Val Gardena, Italy – Super-G, Downhill
Dec. 19-20: Alta Badia, Italy – 2x Giant Slalom
Dec. 22: Madonna di Campiglio, Italy – Slalom
Dec. 28-29: Bormio, Italy – Downhill, Super-G
Jan. 5: Zagreb, Croatia – Slalom
Jan. 8-9: Adelboden, Switzerland – Giant Slalom, Slalom
Jan. 14-16: Wengen, Switzerland – 2x Downhill, Slalom
Jan. 21-23: Kitzbuehel, Austria – 2x Downhill, Slalom
Jan. 25: Schladming, Austria – Slalom
Feb. 26-27: Garmisch, Germany – 2x Slalom
March 5-6: Kvitfjell, Norway – Downhill, Super-G
March 12-13: Kranjska Gora, Slovenia – 2x Giant Slalom
March 16-20: Courchevel, France – World Cup Finals
Oct. 23: Sölden, Austria – Giant Slalom
Nov. 13: Lech, Austria – Parallel
Nov. 20-21: Levi, Finland – 2x Slalom
Nov. 27-28: Killington, Vt. – Giants Slalom, Slalom
Dec. 3-5: Lake Louise, Alb. – 2x Downhill, Super-G
Dec. 11-: St. Moritz, Switzerland – 2x Super-G
Dec. 18-19: Val d’Isere, France – Downhill, Super-G
Dec. 21: Courchevel, France – Giant Slalom
Dec. 28-29: Lienz, Austria – Giant Slalom, Slalom
Jan. 4: Zagreb, Croatia – Slalom
Jan. 8-9: Maribor, Slovenia – Giant Slalom, Slalom
Jan. 11: Flachau, Austria – Slalom
Jan. 15-16: Zauchensee, Austria – Downhill, Super-G
Jan. 22-23: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – Downhill, Super-G
Jan. 25: Kronplatz, Italy – Giant Slalom
Jan. 29-30: Garmisch, Germany – Downhill, Super-G
Feb. 26-27: Crans-Montana, Switzerland – 2x Downhill
March 5-6: Lenzerheide, Switzerland – Super-G, Giant Slalom
March 11-12: Are, Sweden – Giant Slalom, Slalom
March 14-20: Courchevel, France – World Cup Finals
How to Watch
Like last season, you can stream all alpine World Cup races from NBC’s Peacock app. The Sölden giant slalom races this weekend will stream in live time, with the women’s first GS run scheduled to start at 4:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 23, followed by the second run at 7:15 a.m. ET. Coverage of the Sölden men’s GS kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 4 a.m. ET, followed by the second run at 7:30 a.m. View the full streaming schedule here.
Tune into SKI’s Competitions page to stay up to date on all the action throughout the season.