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Thursday, December 27, 2001
Updated: January 7, 3:23 PM ET
 
Fan Guide

By ESPN.com news services


Olympic competition dates: Feb. 10-23
Venues: Snowbasin Ski Area (downhill, Super-G), Deer Valley Resort (slalom), Park City Mountain Resort (giant slalom)

The outlook
Men: There will be some noticeable absences at Salt Lake City, including the man who tied the record for most World Cup victories in a season last spring -- Hermann Maier, who suffered a severe compound fracture to his right leg when his motorcycle collided with a car on Aug. 24.

FROM START TO FINISH
Alpine

ESPN.com's animated fan guide feature takes you through the ins and outs of each sport. Check out each sport's fan guide for more.

Alpine skiing

Cross Country

Freestyle skiing


Austrian Stephan Eberharter, winner of a Super-G and downhill on consecutive days last month, is a medal favorite along with Lasse Kjus and Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway, Benjamin Raich of Austria. Americans Daron Rahlves, Bode Miller, winner of two slaloms and a giant slalom, and Erik Schlopy should compete.

American Chad Fleischer injured his knee in World Cup downhill training and is out. One year after a career-threatening knee injury, Dane Spencer made the United States team and will compete in the giant slalom.

Women: The women also lost a strong competitor when France's Regine Cavanoud died from injuries suffered in a crash in October. In addition to winning the super-G World Cup, Cavagnoud was third overall in the World Cup standings last season and had long been a strong competitor in the downhill and giant slalom.

Anja Paerson of Sweden, winner of four World Cup slaloms, and Andrine Flemmen of Norway are medal favorites, along with Americans Sarah Schleper, Kirsten Clark, Kristina Koznick and Caroline Lalive. Other hopefuls are Italy's Isolde Kostner, a two-time gold medalist at Lillehammer, Switzerland's Sonja Nef and Austrian Renate Goetschl.

Wild cards are Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden, a four-time world champion with two previous Olympic golds, and American Picabo Street, also an Olympic gold medalist. Both on the comeback trail after serious knee injuries.

The finer points
Alpine skiing events can generally be grouped into two categories -- speed events (downhill and super giant slalom) and technical events (slalom and giant slalom). Few skiers compete across that division because each requires its own special skills, equipment and mindset.

Hermann Maier
Hermann Maier got back on skis for the first time in December, but won't be ready for the Games.

In the technical events -- slalom and giant slalom -- skiers traverse a course that requires them to make quick cuts and turns through a series of gates, displaying speed, agility and quick thinking. The racers have to pass through all the gates on runs down two different courses, and their combined times on the two runs determine the final finish order.

In the showcase Alpine event -- the downhill -- only one thing counts: speed. The winner is the skier who can successfully make it to the bottom of a course with 881-meters of vertical drop (500-700 for the women), surviving jumps, turns and straightaways in which speeds can reach 80 miles an hour. Once. There are no second chances in the downhill.

The super giant slalom is essentially a combination of the two disciplines -- skiers get one crack at a long, fast course with a series of turns through gates.

An official from the International Ski Federation sets the downhill course. Bernhard Russi of Switzerland, who won gold in 1972 in downhill, created the course for Salt Lake City.

All of the other disciplines use a method that selects a person from a competing country to design the course. After the last World Cup race in the pre-Olympic season, the country of the top 15 ranked skiers is put a on a piece of paper and placed in a bowl to be drawn. If one country has four top skiers, it gets four slips of paper. In events where there are two runs a second country is chosen to set the additional run.