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Seven Principals

Sofia Goggia. St. Moritz - December 2022

Six racers who finished top-10 Overall for 2021; one 13th who demands inclusion, IMO. As I evaluated that season and looked back a few seasons for context, I pegged these folks among the best, most consistent, and promising of those who (c)would compete, hopefully, for at least another 3 or 4 years. So this is a subjective list, but a strong one. It serves well as an introduction. Upcoming Features of 21/22 notes will include improving racers a few tenths from greatness; three Heavy Hitters poised to dominate 2023/04; excellent-top competitors whom I overlooked, usually due to post-injury comeback lower rankings.

These are original notes, unchanged from post-season 2021 and 2022.

2020 Overall and Discipline rankings included for recent reference/context.

January '23 and February '23 original notes added, completing my initial investigation.

A few terms I use:

“HOF” means Hall Of Fame. I use it in the American sense to mark an athlete whose career has/will site her amongst the very best.

“She should aim for a <10 SG ranking” means less/higher than 10th ranking—ie. 9th place or better.

“T5” means a top-5 finish. “3xSG” means three Super G races and “SG-4xT10”is 4 top-10 Super G finishes. Exact finishing positions described as “SG-2x3d; DH-3x4th.” These designations usually refer to a season’s results within a discipline.

EOS - End of Season. A racer's or Discipline's final standing(s).

OFS - Out for Season. Serious injury before or during season.

AFAICT - As far as I can tell. IMO - In my opinion.

One last thing: Nordic (cross-country) ski racing may not be as visually fast and as superficially dramatic as Alpine, but Nordic racers’ strength and endurance—and willpower—is beyond adjectival expression, IMO. Nordic WC is available via, YT, and other web sources. Nordic racing strategy and tactics are, I imagine, more complicated and fluid than are Alpine’s. Check it out for extreme human athleticism.

2022 WC POST season notes - Main Players (now Seven Principals)

2021 Women’s WC Overall original post-notes in Calibri (Spring 2021)

Spring 2022 notes in Ariel Narrow. (Changed to Calibri italic here)

7/2022 additional notes in Bookman Old Style (Changed to Calibri bold here)

(Couldn't figure out how to change fonts in this section.)

Michelle Gisin – Best overall 2021 season, IMO: improvement across 4 disciplines by a cusp elite competitor beginning prime years. Almost doubled overall points total; doubled ranking in 2 disciplines. Prone to minor speed errors in otherwise excellent runs. Primed to gun for Overall next few seasons. Seems to be a settled, focused pro. Family pride motivation, too. (age 27)

2021 3d 1130 pts. DH-15 SG-13 GS-4 SL-4

2020 8th 591 pts. DH-24 SG-17 GS-11 SL-8

2022 5th 874 pts. DH-16 SG-12 GS-8 SL-7

Summer mono hosed her early season; missed several races. Still turned in a stellar year: DHx5 all top-10; 2 SL podiums; later season GS/SG finishes in top-10, 3 podiums combined. Great Beijing visit—AC gold and SG bronze. She’s solid. Picking Michelle (again) for top-3 Overall. She’s past a break-out year: firmly established; needs a healthy full run to bump up 2021’s DH/SG rankings, and maintain tech. I picked her and LG-B to fight out 2nd/3d with Vlhova.

If she’s fully physically fit and contests four disciplines, Michelle’s right there with Petra, I think. My only question is whether she has the grit to really fight it out. Strictly a feeling, probably unfair. I’ll pick her 3d/4th for Overall title, same as last season. One of WC’s brightest lights.

Michelle Gisin. (Jan 2023) I’m seeing that changing equipment is a big deal. MG’s twenty-nine, and has been very successful on Rossi. Why change at this point? Makes sense for Alice, but not for an elite competitor primed for a monster season. Looks like at least half of this campaign will be experimental.

Lara Gut-Behrami – Best season improvement for assured HOF competitor: doubled overall points total. 3 disciplines. Within 2 seasons of retirement (probably); recovered from major knee injury. Professional, committed; supremely confident. Sense she plans capping career with an Olympic flourish and another hard charge for Overall title. Put down archetypal SG runs in 2021. SG & GS Gold, DH Bronze at Worlds. (age 30)

2021 2nd 1256 pts. DH-3 SG-1 GS-7

2020 7th 616 pts. DH-4 SG-4 GS-14

2022 11TH 664 pts. DH-15 SG-6 GS-13

Covid and flu hobbled Lara big-time: contested 2/3 schedule. Started 4xGS (2nd; 2xtop-10); 6xSG (1st, 2nd, 3d); 7xDH (1x1st, 2xT10). Smoked Beijing SG. I’m picking her, again, for 2nd Overall. She wants a king-hell 22-23 (final?) season. Another crack at Worlds, too. IMO, when healthy still 2nd best overall WC racer after Shiffrin.

My pick, again, for 2nd Overall. Very secretive, but I bet she’s loaded for bear for a monster final season. Health undercut 2022, though ripped Olympic SG as I thought she would. But that’s small potatoes. Still money for any DH, SG, GS podium, except gliding DH tracks which don’t suit her slight “mass” as commentators tactfully say. IMO, when physically fit still 2nd best overall.

Lara G-B (Jan 2023) Unleashing her skills. Now in 5th place overall. 2 x top-7 and 2 x podium over next 4 speed races and 2 x top-6 next GS, and she’ll be in 2nd place or very close by end of January. (January grueling.) Petra and Marta can’t match her speed; Wendy doesn’t try; Sofia no GS; Corinne dropped GS/uncompetitive. Ragnhild and Federica only ones who can challenge Lara at this point, and they must turn it on. Michelle’s really struggling. Top-7 overall still feasible with major improvement.

Lara Gut-Behrami – Holding steady for 2nd Overall. DH lagged first few meets, but picked up at St. Anton and I think she’ll finish strong. Surprising DNF Lake Louise SG inconsequential in the end, I’m quite sure. Only question now is if she’s back next year. I sure hope so.

Marta Bassino – Poised for a big season. Call-out for GS globe; odd that SL isn’t stronger, though perhaps few starts. 4 disciplines. DH ranking dropped—if returns to SG level then in Overall contention. Perhaps cut back on SL if not feeling it. Strong consecutive seasons suggest a rising star entering prime. Seems a bit demure, compared with Sofia’s and Federica’s globes/charisma. May quietly eclipse them. (age 25)

2021 6th 876 pts. DH-29 SG-6 GS-1 SL-43

2020 5th 817 pts. DH-11 SG-10 GS-4

2022 10th 673 pts. DH-35 SG-10 GS-5

Stalled out. GS: 3xDNF; 4 podiums in 6 finishes. SG: 5xtop-10 from 8 finishes; DH: 27 pts in 3 races. No SL starts. DNF Beijing GS. So low start rate and GS drop-off resulted in mediocre season. No injury I’m aware of; just wasn’t sharp. Got lots of national publicity for 2021 GS globe, including a dedicated TV mini-doc or something. Needs a solid rebound. Perhaps should run GS and SG only in 2023. Still a couple years before prime, definitely time to resume high gear.

Marta Bassino. (Jan 2023) So far a textbook recovery after break-out sophomore slump. She’s really good. I sense 2022’s swoon shook her a bit: she realized a golden opportunity may offer one second chance, and she better grab it. (Did she change equipment last year? Gotta check. Would explain drop-off.)

Katharina Liensburger. (Jan 2023) Man, she’s off-kilter. Like Michelle she keeps smiling, but has had a few really poor outings. I’m seeing how a break-out season—2021 for KL—may not reveal a dominant talent. Katharina’s really gotta dig, or regroup, or something.

Crans Montana

Breezy slowly but surely coming back.

Ilka still iffy.

Sofia always comes through.

Lara has lost her DH edge.

Not sure how much worse yesterday could have been. I guess the snow’s colder today so a safer surface. Visibility sketchy, for sure.

Head skis stiffer?

WC – 2023 Individual brief notes - 12 February

In no particular order; appended to 21/22 notes.

Corinne Suter – Major Overall potential for elite speed skier entering prime. Needs to shave 3 sec off GS total time, and will be in Overall contention. At her speed best, can beat anyone. Occasional minor errors cost positions. Seems quietly confident, somewhat aloof. Loves her animals. Fairly glamorous media image, but I sense re WC she’s all business. (age 27)

2021 8th 753 pts. DH-2 SG-3 GS-30

2020 4th 837 pts. DH-1 SG-1 Breakout year.

2022 9th 697 pts. DH-2 SG-8 GS-45

Officially enigmatic, IMO. Superior speed talent; significant SG lapses doomed Overall standing. DH: 1x1st; 1xpodium; 6xtop-10;19th in 9 starts. SG: 1xpodium; 4xtop-10; 3x20th+ in 9 starts. Gave up on GS—if that’s plan for 2023 as well then Overall title out of the running. This makes sense, IMO, as she’s poised to wrestle Breezy for speed queen crown when/if Goggia retires/crashes. Shows up for big races: 1x1st; 3xpodiums at Worlds. Snatched gold from Sofia at Beijing DH. Hoping she spiffs up SG this season—the speed globe pursuits should be excellent.

When on, podium lock every DH and SG. As with Michelle, I wonder how deep she’ll dig. I suspect she’d like another Speed globe, though Olympic DH gold cemented her season discipline/Worlds accomplishments, especially at her age. If she wants to contest Overall, she must knuckle down at GS and finish at least top 12 every race. If she doesn’t give GS a real shot this season, we’ll know she’s content to define career on her massive speed talent.

Corinne Suter (February 2023) Mortified that I questioned her grit. Seventeen days after Grade 1 concussion and eye swollen shut, she trained DH for Worlds; top-20 SG, wins DH bronze. Competitive season before Cortina crash. IMO chance for DH EOS 3d if Curtoni falters and 2nd if Stuhec then bombs big-time, which ain’t gonna happen. (Or if either is injured, which better not happen!) One GS start for 3 points—not sure why she bothers. Just entering prime. Will end 2024—solely a WC season: no Olympics or Worlds—podium at least in DH, and top-5 SG.

Sofia Goggia – Ski racing’s biggest personality. Outrageous DH talent, now (mostly) in control. SG ranking plunge per just 4 starts. Restored <10 SG ranking = Overall title contention. In prime; 2022 season very important. Invites and thrives on attention; likes big stage. Another Olympic medal and DH globe assures HOF. Very appealing extroverted public persona—ebullient, assertive; confident but not vain. Can be self-effacing, as is any kind soul. We’ll be hearing from her. (age 28)

2021 9th 740 pts. DH-1 SG-18 GS-13

2020 11th 479 pts. DH-17 SG-8 GS-19

2022 6th 873 pts. DH-1 SG-5 GS-35

This is how it’s done. Took DH globe by 100 pts over elite speeder Suter, who nipped her for Beijing gold. Won 4 of 8 DH starts, 2 of 6 SG with a 2nd for good measure. Superb! 5xGS starts pretty worthless. She can’t contend for Overall with 2 disciplines—I was off-base above suggesting she could. And that’s fine with her, I imagine. Barring injury, I reckon she’ll stick it for two more seasons, aiming for 4 consecutive DH titles and a third Worlds medal. Then she’ll be appointed Prime Minister and every Italian will be required to have a dog.

Ester Ledecka – Ski racing’s most enigmatic personality. Talent to burn. Must focus speed gift every start. If serious re GS and develops <12 chops, will be in Overall hunt. Olympic SG gold put her in media spotlight. Distraction? HOF potential with solid strategy and committed tactics, no question. Intriguing kid. (age 26)

2021 13th 453 pts. DH-8 SG-5 GS-47

2020 10th 503 pts. DH-2 SG-21

2022 19th 443 pts. DH-3 SG-22

Solid DH campaign: 7 starts—5 top-10 including a win. 2 top-10 in 5xSG starts. No Tech. Won’t know her WC Alpine potential until/unless she drops snowboarding. (And why would she?) Hopefully will commit to Alpine; she’s great fun to watch.

Wendy Holdener – Superb SL, solid GS, middling SG. GS score slipped this season, dropping her from top Overall rankings. Career interrupted by a couple “minor” injuries; 2022 a key year, as she continues prime. Up against Shiffrin, Vlhova, Liensberger—SL globe will be tough. Stable, professional personality for Swiss team. Dependable results; back in top 10 Overall if she retains top 5 SL and regains GS form/bumps up SG. Combined results greatly help her season score. Has brushed elite status with 2nd and 3d Overall points seasons. Injury-free campaign means solid comeback, I think. (age 28)

2021 10th 535 pts. SL-5 GS-22 SG-27

2020 6th 791 pts. SL-4 GS-6 SG-15 DH-38

2022 14th 513 pts. SL-5 GS- 21 SG-25 DH-46

Broke both wrists shortly before season began. Squeezed out a top-15 Overall finish. SL steady/okay: 7xtop-10 including 2xpodium in 8 finishes. GS 1x8th; 2xDNF in 7 starts; SG 1x7th in 4 starts; DH 1 start for 25th. GS really fell off. Picked up Beijing SL bronze, to complement Pyeongchang SL silver, and 2017 Worlds SL silver. Solid SL career, though still looking for first WC win. Should probably focus upon Tech—Speed not generating any points, and can’t help her stamina over the season. Appealing character: steady, upbeat, professional. Hopefully will kick out a couple more top-notch SL seasons, and reclaim strong GS chops.

Two prime movers' mid-season notes included here for context.

Petra Vlhova – (12 February 2023) Petra’s vexed. Can’t match Shiffrin’s Speed ability; Overall is out of reach. (Indeed, Speed dropped this season.) Best hope is 2nd place in SL, also GS with an exceptional push. If Her Highness wasn’t around, Petra could add a judicious Speed campaign and be The Big Person. Expressed lagging motivation pre-season—Mikaela’s supremacy no doubt a factor, as well as post-Olympic gold hoopla. Playing second fiddle gamely so far, though I doubt any elite athlete would feel resigned to such a position and carry on full bore. Petra is a superb ski racer, yet I sense she has more brewing beneath the surface than many athletes, or regular people, do. Unimpeachable standing in Slovakia and within European sport ensures her a secure and lucrative future. Still, must be frustrating.

Federica Brignone – (12 February 2023) Must admit I haven’t fully appreciated her excellence…though I’ve ranked her top-4/5 Overall. Not killing it points-wise this season (oddly sub-par SG), but she’s always aggressive, swinging vigorous arcs, intensity right there with Sofia. Turned it on for Worlds.

WC – 2023 original Discipline globe notes – 12 February

A: Bold predictions for season’s climax!

DH – Sofia in driver’s seat for discipline globe, though Ilka will make it close—indeed, I think she’s even money to win it. A heavy lift with three DHs remaining, but she’s skiing beautifully and Sofia seems a bit out of sorts after Cortina spill. (She crashed same place Corinne did and where Mikaela went off balance.) Goggia’s fire and ability matched against Ilka’s low-key determination and nearly equal skill will be fun to watch. Unfortunately, a DNF by Sofia is the only way Ilka can overtake her, as they’re both locks for top-4 every race. So--I hate to write it--I’m afraid SG’s intensity/aggression may prompt another accident. If I were her coach or her doggy, I’d suggest she race for the two lower podium steps, and not win-or-bust per MO. 100-point lead is very protectable.

SG – This is gonna be wild: four within 42 points. I’m rooting for Ragnhild. Usually I’d say Lara will get it done, and I’m sticking to that. Froken Mowinckel is so inspired and frisky—she deserves a discipline triumph. Lara’s Lake Louise DNF could haunt her; Fede’s SG is on point, as is Elena’s; I like Conny, and am very pleased she’s having a strong Speed season. A DNF amongst the top 5 could settle it.

GS – Mikaela sure seized the GS bit. A scrap for 2nd: Lara, Marta, and Petra. Lara vs. two brilliant younger racers is a gem. By a thick whisker, Marta is the superior GS talent over Lara right now, I think. G-B’s cool professionalism will serve her well, although 2nd place must be motivating Petra, in this season of discontent.

SL – Yawn. A toss-up for 2nd between Petra and Wendy. I’m pulling for Wendy, as Petra is so decorated and is just entering usual prime years. Wendy’s really enjoying herself and deserves the clock stopping a dozen hundredths on her side for a change. (Sobering that 2nd place in two disciplines generates such excitement. Mikaela may be asked to contest Tech on barrel staves.)


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