Luca Bruno/Associated Press
Luca Bruno/Associated Press
This year, Lindsey Vonn isnít the only favorite in the super-G at the world skiing championships.
The American has won the World Cup super-G title for four consecutive seasons, but Vonn only now is regaining speed after a midseason break to shrug off health problems.
Despite winning two of four races this season, Vonn isnít even leading the discipline standings. She trails Tina Maze of Slovenia by four points.
ďIn downhill and super-G, I feel really strong,Ē Vonn said.
Germanyís Viktoria Rebensburg used to be a giant slalom specialist but has been improving in speed events the last two seasons. She won the most recent super-G in Cortina díAmpezzo, Italy, two weeks ago.
Maze claimed her first super-G victory in January in St. Anton, Austria, to become the sixth female skier to win World Cup races in all five Alpine disciplines.
Vonnís teammate, Julia Mancuso, finished in the top six of each super-G this season, including a second and a third place. The American is third behind Maze and Vonn in the discipline standings and usually performs well at major championships.
ďItís nice to have a little break (from the World Cup) and to put more focus into these races,Ē said Mancuso, who won silver at worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, two years ago.
Schladming, a small mining town in the province of Styria with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants, is expecting a total of 400,000 visitors during worlds, which end Feb. 17 with the menís slalom. Marcel Hirscher, Anna Fenninger and their teammates will face an uphill task to repeat Austriaís past successes when the racing starts on home snow.
Maze has dominated the World Cup season so far, winning seven races with 10 more top-three finishes. She is in contention to beat Austrian great Hermann Maierís record of 2,000 World Cup points in one season.
Maze also could become the first woman to medal in all five individual events at a single world championship. The only skier achieving that feat was Lasse Kjus of Norway in 1999 in Vail and Beaver Creek.
On the menís side, Austria has high hopes for overall World Cup champion Hirscher, who missed the 2011 worlds with a broken foot.
Hirscher has 13 podium finishes, including six victories, this season. The Austrian will skip the speed races to focus fully on his strongest disciplines, slalom and giant slalom.
In giant slalom, defending world champion Ted Ligety looks to be the man to beat after taking four races with huge winning margins, despite having to use new skis following a rule change by the governing body that the American criticized before the season started.
In the speed events, former overall champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who took the super-combined title two years ago, is among the favorites again after winning three super-G races and a downhill.