The Sochi Network

25 Days to Sochi: Olympic form guide

Goergl

ALPINE SKIING

Elisabeth Goergl wasn't even sure of her place in the Austrian team in Sochi going into this weekend but the 2011 world champion bounced back with victory in the downhill at Altenmarkt on a course that experts have predicted will be similar to the one in Russia.

Italy's Elena Fanchini remains on course to take her spot in the Italian team despite a nasty looking crash.

Canada's Marie-Michele Gagnon won the one and only World Cup super combined event pre-Sochi to underline her improvement in speed events and show she could surprise the favourites in that event: Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Tina Maze, Nicole Hosp and Anna Fenninger who finished third, fourth, sixth and eighth respectively.

Marcel Hirscher confirmed his status as favourite for the men's slalom with his second win of the season in that discipline in Adelboden. Big rivals Felix Neureuther and Mario Matt did not finish although the German had plenty to cheer 24 hours before with victory in the Giant Slalom.

Hirscher and Ted Ligety had split the first four GS races of the season but the Austrian was third and the soft conditions didn't favour the American who skied out in the second run.

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

There were many absentees in Nove Mesto for the sprint events as top names rested after the Tour de Ski but American Kikkan Randall underlined her gold credentials with victory in the women's event. The defending sprint World Cup champion now has a win and two seconds in four races this season.

There was a stronger line-up on the men's side with Sergey Ustiugov of Russia becoming the sixth different winner in six races this season. Anders Gloeersen, Nikita Kruikov and Simeon Hamilton have won events this term but failed to make the final to underline the wide-open nature of this gold.

Kruikov was part of the winning relay team, with Norway taking the women's event, but few of the pairings will be replicated in Sochi so there was not too much to be learned from Sunday's races.

SKI JUMPING

A week that started wonderfully for Austria with Thomas Diethart winning the Four Hills ended terribly with a serious injury to three-time Olympic champion Thomas Morgenstern.

Morgenstern is out of mortal danger after suffering serious head and lung injuries in a practice crash in Bad Mittendorf but his Sochi dream is surely over and that will also hurt Austria's hopes of a three-peat in the team event.

Diethart rested from this weekend's Ski Flying doubleheader with Noriaki Kasai of Japan becoming the oldest winner of a World Cup competition at the age of 41 on Saturday before taking third behind Peter Prevc of Slovenia on Sunday.

Defending overall World Cup champion Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria was third and second on the biggest hill which is not part of the Olympic programme.

Sara Takanashi reinforced her status as a hot favourite for the maiden women's gold by winning both events on home snow in Sapporo. She has now won six of seven World Cup contests this season but the Japanese's big rival Sarah Hendrickson is close to a return from injury.

NORDIC COMBINED

Local hero and Vancouver normal hill champion Jason Lamy Chappuis was unable to record a win on home (artificial) snow at a warm Chaux-Neuve, finishing seventh, as Norway dominated the individual event.

Mikko Kokslien led home team-mates Magnus Krog and Joergen Graabak with Lamy Chappuis' main gold medal rival Eric Frenzel ahead of another Norwegian Magnus Moan.

That boosts Norway's hopes of winning relay gold. It is a four-man event in Sochi
and although it was Germany who took the two-man race in France on Sunday, the two German and Norwegian squads were the first four home, and separated by a mere 2.5 seconds, to suggest a head-to-head battle in Russia next month.

FREESTYLE SKIING

A busy week with four different disciplines in four locations. There was disappointment for British medal hope James Woods in the Slopestyle event in Breckenridge as he failed to reach the final won by Bobby Brown. In three World Cup events, seven different men have been on the podium to underline the wide-open nature of the event.

David Wise is the gold medal favourite in the Halfpipe and became the fourth different winner in four events this season although it was just the second entered by the current world champion.

Moguls looks a pure shootout between Canadians Mikaël Kingsbury and Alexandre Bilodeau who shared the wins in Deer Valley and have taken the top two spots in all four World Cup events this season. Anton Kushnir of Belarus won the Aerials at the same venue.

On the women's side, American Hannah Kearney won both moguls events to make it three from four, compatriot Keri Herman took the Slopestyle (eight different women have podiumed in three events) and Cheng Shuang became the third different Chinese to win an Aerials contest this campaign.

The US took five of the first seven places in the Slopestyle as Maddie Bowman added a victory to her second place in Copper Mountain from two starts this season. Last week's winner Rowan Cheshire from Stoke did not compete while fellow Brit Emma Lonsdale failed to make the final.

SNOWBOARDING

The men's slalom looks wide open after German Alexander Bergmann and Russian Vic Wild recorded debut World Cup wins in Bad Gastein and now nine different men have podiumed in the three World Cup events. It looks less open on the women's side as Swiss Patrizia Kummer notched a double victory.

A double snowboard cross event at Vallnord-Arcalís saw American Trevor Jacob and Omar Visintin split the wins with the Italian also third in the first race. Canadian Dominique Maltais has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season after a first and second in Andorra. She was edged out by Eva Samkova on Sunday with Lindsey Jacobellis - most famous for her 'Devon Loch' fail in Turin - third on both days.

BIATHLON

The men's events are being billed as a shoot-out between Martin Fourcade and Emil Hegle Svendsen and with the Frenchman taking time out for altitude training, the Norwegian claimed a double victory in the individual and pursuit in Ruhpolding.

Austria won the relay and although Norway will start as favourites, Johannes Boe may have taken himself out of the team after an amazing six misses on his first visit to the range. France's relay hopes were boosted by a return to form by Simon Fourcade who was seventh and fifth.

Czech Gabriela Soukalová took a double win on the women's side with Russia winning the relay.

SKELETON

Noelle Pikus-Pace beat Briton Lizzy Yarnold to victory at St Moritz and the gold looks a shootout between the pair as they have now split this season's six World Cup races evenly.

Turin silver medallist and defending world champion Shelley Rudman was third for her first podium of the season while her partner and 2008 world champion Kristan Bromley also had a return to form with his first two top 10s of the season, finishing fifth and seventh.

Martins Dukurs led home his brother Tomass Dukurs in both races, the Latvian - who was edged out for gold in Vancouver and on the same track in last year's World Championship - now has four World Cup wins from six.

BOBSLEIGH

American Steven Holcomb appeared nailed on for double gold in Sochi after winning the first seven races of the season but missed out in Winterberg and was only fifth and seventh in St Moritz.

Swiss veteran Beat Hefti took his second consecutive win in the two-man while Latvian Oskars Melbardis, a former brakeman, upset the applecart with a maiden win in the four-man where Brit John James Jackson was 10th.

Defending Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada notched her third win of the season in the women's event to cement favouritism in Sochi.

LUGE

The expected German benefit in Oberhof materialised although Vancouver gold medallist Tatjana Hüfner ended Natalie Geisenberger's winning streak at six in the women's event.

Geisenberger was second in a German 1-2-3-4 while compatriot Felix Loch won his fourth race of the season in a German 1-2-3 on the men's side.

Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken edged Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt in the doubles, the two pairings have split the six World Cup races this season with four going to the latter duo.

ELSEWHERE the United States figure skating trials saw them finalise their line-up while Canada also named their squad.

Ireen Wust retained her European all-round speed skating title and Jan Blokhuijsen made it a Dutch double by winning the men's event.