Wengen World Cup Downhill this weekend: Olympic selection down to the wire

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 13, 2010 2:38 pm

The U.S. Ski Team men are in Wengen, Switzerland prepping for the classic World Cup

downhill on Saturday (and for some the slalom on Sunday) and not only are the athletes racing for medals and FIS points, they’re gunning for spots on the U.


S.

Olympic Team. This year, that race is pretty tight.

Here’s what they’ve got to do to make it:

1. One or more top-three World Cup finishes

or
2. One or more top-10 World Cup finishes

or
3. Total FIS Alpine World Cup points in an event (if fewer than two skiers in an event qualified through No. 1 and No. 2).

There are four spots per discipline, so a speed specialist can qualify for the downhill and not the Super G for example, or that athlete may qualify for both. U.S. Ski Team officials hope to name the Olympic Team based on the above criteria, and if necessary, they can fill the fourth spot through discretion.

Right now, for downhill, only Bode Miller has solidified his spot with top-ten results this season. The entire talented team can place in the top ten and even top three, though none have yet this season. As far as the FIS World Cup points standings go, Andrew Weibrecht and Marco Sullivan are not far behind, as both sit within the top 25. The two will likely qualify for the Vancouver Games so it’s that fourth spot that’s up for grabs. Steven Nyman and Scott Macartney have both stood on the World Cup podium and Erik Fisher nabbed a seventh-place finish last s

eason, so it will be a tight race between the three. They have Wengen and next week’s famous Kitzbuhel Hahnenkamm to help set them apart. If it really gets down to the wire, the U.S. Ski Team may bring them all to Whistler, and have them race for their Olympic start during the downhill training runs before the official race day. That last option is up to discretion.

The speed specialists can also shoot for Super G, though Kitzbuhel’s World Cup next week is the only qualifier left for that discipline. As it stands, Ted Ligety has claimed the top American spot, with his second and eighth-place finishes this season. To ensure a secure spot for Vancouver, someone will have to nab a top ten (which is doable).

The action kicks off Saturday with another official training run tomorrow and a Super Combined event Friday. Check back at the Ski Channel for results! And of course, best of luck to the U.S. Ski Team athletes! For many of them, the World Cups mean more as a whole than the Olympics, so their success this weekend is important on many levels.

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