By Emma Hirschauer
Alpine skiing is a fast-paced and thrilling sport that will soon be showcased heavily on the world stage. It features a wide variety of superhuman athletes who push their bodies to the limits in order to excel. Here is a list of some top female contenders for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Mikaela Shiffrin, United States: Shiffrin goes to Beijing prepared for her third Winter Olympics. She has dominated the female slalom since 2014 when the games took place in Sochi, where she won a gold in the slalom as an 18-year-old. In Pyeongchang, she came back for gold in giant slalom, and a silver in combined, which consists of two slalom runs and one downhill run. She is coming back to the Olympics after experiencing tragedy, as her father, Jeff Shiffrin, passed away in 2020. Afterward, Shiffrin took a break from skiing in order to mourn. This year, she is looking to overcome this great loss and become the most decorated U.S. alpine skier in history.
Petra Vlhova, Slovakia: Vlhova, similarly to Shiffrin, returns for her third Winter Olympics. Unlike the American skier, Vlhova has yet to earn a medal at the games, but her last four seasons on the World Cup circuit say that this is very likely to change. Vlhova has managed to take home at least five race wins per season since her last showing at the Olympics. This includes her five wins this season, compared to Shiffrin’s two, and in the 2021 season, she finished first place in the rankings (though during that season, Shiffrin was taken out of the running for several races due to a back injury). The two skiers are expected to battle it out in giant slalom, as they are each ranked highly in the event.
Ester Ledecka, Czech Republic: At the 2018 games, Ledecka became the first woman to win two gold medals in two different sports at the same Olympics. In those Olympics, Ledecka first took home a gold in snowboarding’s parallel giant slalom event, which was an anticipated outcome. However, Ledecka shocked the world when she won the gold in the Alpine super giant slalom. Since those games, Ledecka has continued to go between the two sports and earned a couple of podiums in both. For Ledecka, one thing is different at these games. Nobody will be turning off their T.V.s when she’s competing.
Lara Gut-Behrami, Switzerland: Gut-Behrami is one of the top female skiers, ranking first in super-G and second in the giant slalom in World Cup standings. During the 2021 season, she finished second, beating two recent gold medalists, the previously mentioned Ledecka and Shiffrin. In 2014 she took home her only medal, a bronze in downhill. Still, don’t count Gut-Behrami out; her impressive showing on the World Cup circuit is more than enough to make her a real threat.
Michelle Gisin, Switzerland: In Pyeongchang, Gisin won gold in combined and tacked on a third-place finish in last year’s championships. With both factors combined, she is a real contender to medal again in any. In addition, ski racing runs in her blood as she is the younger sister of Dominique Gisin, who took home gold in downhill at Sochi.