- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) - The international season in Alpine skiing ended Sunday with the final races of the five-month World Cup campaign.

Even in an Olympic year, the World Cup is the purest test for racers, and the giant crystal globes awarded to overall winners are the sport’s most prestigious honors.

However, the tour shares the spotlight in 2015 with the world championships, hosted Feb. 2-15 at Vail-Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Here are five things to know about Alpine skiing today:


AUSTRIA RULES: The Wunderteam was wonderful, winning the three biggest prizes.

Marcel Hirscher’s third overall title was predicted, but the others were breakout bonuses.

Anna Fenninger stepped up from fifth and third previously to take her first overall title at age 24. She was helped by season-ending injuries to Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, who had led the standings.

“You couldn’t think about this before the season,” team director Hans Pum said of Austria’s first title double since 2002.

At the Olympics, Austria regained the men’s downhill through 23-year-old Matthias Mayer, who added a second career win at Lenzerheide.


BELIEVE IN U.S.: The American outlook is also good as the United States prepares to host its first world championships in 16 years.

Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin are undisputed leaders in men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom. They’re both Olympic and world champions, and multiple World Cup title winners.

Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn remain the sport’s most watchable stars, and can win any speed race they start. Both expect to be ready for Vail-Beaver Creek.

Men’s head coach Sasha Rearick has the top-level coaching staff he wants: “Everybody on the team pulls the rope in the same direction.” Post-Olympics, he hopes to bolster a program which already developed Travis Ganong, and includes Jared Goldberg and Ryan Cochran-Siegle next in line.

Story Continues →