Why Elite Skiers Say ‘No, Thanks’ To New Olympic Group Occasion

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One would possibly assume skiers can be excited by the prospect of one other probability to win a gold medal on the Pyeongchang Olympics because of the addition of a group occasion to the Alpine schedule.

A brand new race? Extra medals on supply? Who wouldn’t be enticed by that?

Suppose once more. A few of the sport’s prime stars sound quite blase, if not fully dismissive, about the entire thing as they put together for subsequent week’s begin of the Winter Video games.

“Undoubtedly, the precedence is on particular person occasions,” stated Ted Ligety, an American who received golds on the 2006 and 2014 Video games. “An Olympic medal is an Olympic medal, however I don’t suppose a group occasion is inside even one-eighth of the that means of a person medal.”

Right here’s a fast abstract of how the group occasion will work: There will probably be 16 taking part international locations, arrange in an NCAA basketball tournament-style bracket. Every squad may have 4 members, two males and two ladies (plus one in all every gender as a reserve).

In every nation vs. nation matchup, there will probably be 4 1-on-1 parallel runs lasting about 20-25 seconds by big slalom-type gates on the underside portion of a slalom course. The skiers can punch the gates out of the best way as they head down the mountain on their side-by-side programs — a quite completely different endeavor than the solo journeys down a piste that they, and followers, are used to.

Every race victory is price one level; if neither entrant makes it to the end line throughout a given warmth, the winner will probably be whoever made it farther earlier than falling or lacking a gate. If the rating finally ends up at 2-all, the tiebreaker would be the decrease mixed time of every group’s quickest man and quickest lady.

“Doing a group occasion on the finish of the Video games, I feel, ‘Why not? Let’s do it,”’ stated the pinnacle of the U.S. males’s group, Sasha Rearick. “It’s a chance for various nations to step up.”

Lots of the elite athletes themselves are much less keen about it.

Slalom standout Marcel Hirscher of Austria, the proprietor of six consecutive World Cup general titles however zero Olympic golds, most likely received’t participate — except he makes a late resolution to enter as a result of he isn’t happy with how he fares in his particular person races.

Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway, in the meantime, isn’t in the least .

“It may be a extremely cool occasion for TV and spectators … however I nonetheless like the normal stuff,” Kristoffersen, a slalom bronze medalist 4 years in the past, stated after a latest World Cup particular person parallel race. “I nonetheless like what I grew up watching.”

The girl who might find yourself being the largest star of all the Alpine program in South Korea, 2014 slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S., described the possibilities that she’ll be within the beginning gate on Feb. 24 for the end-of-the-Olympics group occasion this manner: “Not a lot.”

“I’m going to want that day to arrange my ideas,” she stated, “and prepare for the top of the (World Cup) season.”

Olympic Medals Via The Years

Go forward and depend others out, too, together with the opposite largest identify on the U.S. group, two-time Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn, and Switzerland’s Lara Intestine, a bronze medalist in 2014.

They’re among the many athletes who made it clear they’ve zero curiosity.

“It’s too harmful. It’s an excessive amount of,” stated Vonn, who received a gold medal within the downhill and a bronze within the super-G at Vancouver in 2010. “I don’t foresee anybody keen to threat the Olympics for a group occasion.”

After which she took it a step additional.

Vonn stated she expects the debut discipline on the Olympics to be full of athletes who “don’t have an opportunity at medaling in different occasions” and she or he doesn’t suppose a group effort ought to end in that goes towards somebody’s “private medal depend.”

“It shouldn’t be that manner. The group occasion ought to be a completely separate factor, and I don’t know if it ought to be an Olympic occasion. I imply, it’s nice that there’s one other Alpine occasion within the Olympics,” Vonn stated, “but when all the primary opponents will not be racing, then I don’t know what good it does.”

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