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    Alpine skiing at the 2018 winter olympics – women’s alpine combined

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    q: what is downhill skiing?

    Alpine skiing, also known as downhill skiing, is a race between skiers, the mountain, and the clock. while the course length, number of turns, and format vary by event, athletes typically must navigate a series of alternating red and blue gates downhill. The fastest on the course wins.

    The sport debuted at the 1936 Olympics with just two events (men’s and women’s combined). it has since grown to 11, including a team event that is new to pyeongchang. Austria has long dominated alpine skiing, winning almost twice as many Olympic medals (114) as the next closest country (Switzerland with 59). the Americans are fourth in the medal standings (44) and have been particularly strong in recent games. The last time the United States went home without at least one Alpine medal was at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

    Reading: Alpine skiing at the 2018 winter olympics – women’s alpine combined

    q: what are the medal events?

    there are 11 alpine events. men and women will each compete in five disciplines (slalom, giant slalom, super-giant, downhill and alpine combined), and there will also be a team event, which is new to the Olympic Games.

    downhill (dh) is the fastest discipline, with widely spaced gates. as a result, there are fewer turns and speeds can exceed 90 mph. runners only get one run.

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    although super-g (sg) is still a speed event, there are more gates, which are placed closer together. that gives the course more turns but also lowers the top speeds a bit. like downhill, runners only get one race.

    giant slalom (gs) has many more gates, spaced significantly closer together and twisting through the hill. it is considered a technical event (as is the slalom). runners get two races, with the top 30 finishers after the first race running in reverse order in the second (30th place goes first, first place 30th goes) to help minimize early skiing advantage. fastest total time wins.

    in slalom (sl), the gates are placed even closer together, with the athletes weaving back and forth. the two-race format is the same as the giant slalom.

    the alpine combination (ac) consists of a downhill race and a slalom race. fastest total time wins. in previous games, the event has been called a “super combo” and is meant to test versatility.

    Sixteen nations will compete in the team event, each with four riders (two men, two women and up to two reserves). skiers race in parallel (side-by-side) slalom races, head to head.

    q: where will the events take place?

    The alpine events will be held in the Taebaek Mountains, along the eastern edge of the Korean Peninsula. the downhill, super-gi and alpine medley slalom portion will be held at the jeongseon alpine center. the slalom, giant slalom and team events will be held at the yongpyong alpine center. course details vary by event.

    p: is there enough snow?

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    unlike sochi four years ago, pyeongchang seems to have a lot of snow. but course preparation still requires meticulous attention to detail. This year, that responsibility falls to a Wyoming rancher named Tom Johnson, who also happens to be one of the world’s leading authorities on snow surfaces. “You have to build a field that is durable. you have to guarantee the product,” he said in the post. “If it falls apart, then they hate you. but they seem to hate you less if it’s cold.”

    q: can you be disqualified?

    yes. there are several ways to be disqualified. if you don’t pass or miss a gate (ski tips and boots must pass) but continue, you will be disqualified. missing a ski can also lead to disqualification (depending on where in the course it occurs). after the race, a skier’s equipment could also fail a series of precise technical checks.

    q: who should I watch out for?

    the united states alpine team, led by olympic gold medalists mikaela shiffrin, lindsey vonn and ted ligety, has a strong chance of winning multiple medals in pyeongchang.

    Four years ago in Sochi, Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at 18. Since then, she has continued to dominate the discipline and has strengthened her abilities in the giant slalom. she has even expanded into speed disciplines on occasion. shiffrin is the clear favorite for gold in slalom, a strong contender in giant slalom and also has a shot at a combined medal.

    “I think (Shiffrin is) maybe the best ski racer I’ve ever seen, male or female,” five-time Olympian Bode Miller told Reuters. “She is so balanced, dynamic, intense and focused. so for me, I think she has a chance in any case where she skis.”

    vonn is the winningest alpine skier in history. and, by most standards, her two Olympic medals from her (one gold and one bronze) would suffice. but she’s hungry for more. Vonn missed the Sochi games due to injuries, which continue to hamper her. She however, will be back and has won four World Cup races this season, including the last two before Pyeongchang. she should compete for medals in the sprint events, and probably in the medleys as well.

    Going into the Sochi Olympics, Ligety was known as “Mr. gs” and delivered, winning his second Olympic gold. (He also won the 2006 medley), but Ligety’s dominance in the giant slalom has waned in recent years as he has been plagued by a hip injury. still, he should be in contention for a giant slalom medal.

    out of the stars, the us. the women’s sprint team is strong and could take someone else at least close to the podium. Andrew Weibrecht tends to rise to the Olympic occasion for men: Despite often disappointing regular-season finishes, she has won two super-G Olympic medals (bronze in 2010 and silver in 2014).

    Americans have a lot of competition, especially on the male side. Austrian Marcel Hirscher is arguably the best male skier in a generation, and is the favorite in both tech events (but Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen will challenge him). Watch out for the Norwegian men in the sprint event; Ksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud both sport multiple Olympic medals.

    competition on the women’s side is much less predictable. viktoria rebensburg from germany has been skiing fast, and lara gut from switzerland is always a threat. But with many women retiring since Sochi (including Slovenia’s Tina Maze, who won two gold medals there), the field is relatively open.

    Q: Speaking of Bode Miller, why isn’t he competing? And Julia Mancuso?

    Miller (five Olympiads, six medals) and Mancuso (four Olympiads, four medals) have been Olympic stalwarts for years. in recent months, however, they have withdrawn. but both will still be in pyeongchang, as commentators for nbc.

    q: when should i watch it?

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    Nearly all alpine events will be broadcast live, often in prime time. Here’s a schedule of the Finals, with TV coverage in parentheses (all times Eastern). all broadcasts are live unless otherwise noted. Races are also available via live stream on nbcolympics.com or on the nbc sports app.

    Feb. 10: Men’s Downhill, 9pm (NBC, 8-11pm, delayed)

    Feb. 11: women’s giant slalom, first heat, 8:15 p.m. (nbc, 7-11pm; second run, 11:45pm (nbc, 11:35pm-1am, live)

    Feb. 12: men’s combined, race descent, 9:30 p.m. (nbc, 8:00 p.m.-11:30 p.m.); slalom race, 1 a. m. (nbc, 12:05-2am)

    Feb. 13: women’s slalom, first round, 8:15 p.m. (nbc, 8:00 p.m.-11:30 p.m.); second race, 11:45 p.m. (nbc, 12:05-1:30 a.m.)

    Feb. 14: male supergiant, 9:00 p.m. (nbc, 8-11:30 pm)

    Feb. 16: female supergiant, 9:00 p.m. (nbc, 8pm-midnight)

    Feb. 17: men’s giant slalom, first heat, 8:15 p.m. (nbc, 8-11 pm); second race, 23:45 (nbc, 11:3-pm-1:30 am)

    Feb. 8pm: Women’s Downhill, 9pm (NBC, 8pm-12:30am)

    Feb. 21: men’s slalom, first round, 8:15 p.m. (nbc, 8-11 pm); second race, 23:45 (nbc, 23:35-00:30)

    Feb. 22: women’s combined, descent, 9 p.m. (nbc, 8pm-midnight); slalom, 12:30 a.m. m. (nbc, 12:35-2am)

    Feb. 23: team event, 9:00 p.m. (nbc, 8-11pm)

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