Will 2018/19 be a record-breaking season?
The 2018/19 Audi FIS Ski World Cup opening in Sölden (Austria) is slated for this rapidly approaching weekend. As per tradition, the ladies will open the season with a giant slalom on Saturday 27th October and the men will race on the Rettenbach Glacier on Sunday 28th October.
The coming season has a lot to offer with the World Championships in Are (Sweden) in February and the World Cup Finals in Soldeu (Andorra), but also with outstanding athletes close to breaking longed for records.
Lindsey Vonn is chasing history. The American superstar has won a total of 82 World Cup races, which is only four wins shy of the all-time record set by Swedish legend Ingemark Stenmark. Vonn announced that her 19th World Cup season would be the last for her, and she will retire at the end of this winter no matter what the record books show. With five World Cup wins last season, an injury-free preparation phase, and the motivation to give it all before retiring, this speed queen has a good chance to equal or break the record this season if she can put down some of her best performances. With an unequaled record of 20 Crystal Globes under her belt, fans could be witness to the final season of the “Greatest of All Time”.
Marcel Hirscher is also in position to further etch his name in the statistics logs. The Austrian already set an all-time record with his seven consecutive Overall World Cup wins and could extend this record run with an eighth Overall globe this season. The 29 year old became a father earlier this month, but he decided to continue his career and will be pushing the limits of what’s possible in alpine skiing. As the defending champion in the Overall, giant slalom and slalom standings, the reigning Olympic champion in alpine combined and in giant slalom, and the current World champion in giant slalom and slalom, he will certainly make it challenging for contenders to catch him.
Mikaela Shiffrin has a shot at records of her own. At the age of 23, the American multi-talent has already won 43 World Cup races, which places her in fifth place all-time on the ladies’ side. This season, she’ll have a shot at winning her third consecutive Overall globe, a feat achieved only by three women in the past: Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Petra Kronberger, and Lindsey Vonn. She could also become the second woman to win the slalom Crystal Globe a record six times, after Vreni Schneider.
Of course, those three athletes will have to fight for their victories, as many other contenders are capabale of battling for the win. Starting with last season’s defending champions. An ankle injury will sideline last season’s ladies’ downhill title winner Sofia Goggia until January, but the 2017 downhill winner Ilka Stuhec will be at the start again. Tina Weirather is up for a third super-G globe in a row, together with the former Overall winners Lara Gut and Anna Veith. Viktoria Rebensburg and Tessa Worley will challenge Shiffrin in giant slalom while Olympic champion Frida Hansdotter and Wendy Holdener are ready to battle in the slalom standings.
On the men’s side, the line-up is equally impressive. Beat Feuz and Aksel Lund Svindal will continue to fight for each tenth of a second in downhill, while super-G Olympic Champion Matthias Mayer and Kjetil Jansrud always threaten in the speed disciplines as well. In the tech events, Hirscher’s biggest competitor is Henrik Kristoffersen, who inched closer and closer in giant slalom, slalom, and in the Overall standings last season. However, Alexis Pinturault and André Myhrer definitely didn’t give up the fight and will lay down their fastest turns to grab as many wins as possible.
The prospects are promising, and the 34 venues on this season’s schedule are ready to host those exciting battles. Make sure to mark all the dates in your calendar.