PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The slalom is the last individual event in the men’s Olympic Alpine skiing programme at Pyeongchang, and will see Austria’s Marcel Hirscher go for his third gold medal of the Games.
Here’s a short guide to the race, which will take place in two rounds on Thursday, beginning at 10.10 local time (0110 GMT, 2010 ET on Wednesday.)
Slalom is the supreme technical event, requiring the athletes to make a series of tight turns between closely placed gates. The top 30 skiers from the first run go in reverse order in run two. There are no prizes for being cautious, and racers often fall or veer off course as they strain to pick up extra hundredths of a second.
The question is whether anyone can beat Hirscher. The 28-year-old Austrian has won the overall World Cup title in the past six years, and was slalom champion in four of those - feats he is within reach of repeating this season. Against expectations, he came only second in Sochi in 2014, but everything has gone right for him in Pyeongchang, where he’s picked up golds in the Alpine combined and giant slalom. His arch-rival Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway - bronze medallist in Sochi, and second behind Hirscher in the giant slalom here - presents the likeliest threat.
Austria have won seven times in the 18 Olympic men’s slaloms since 1948, four victories more than their nearest rivals Italy.
If Hirscher wins, he will become only the third man to grab three gold medals in Alpine skiing at the same Olympics, after Austrian Toni Sailer in 1956 and Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy in 1968. The women’s record belongs to Janica Kostelic of Croatia, who won three golds and a silver in 2002.
Reporting by Mark Trevelyan, editing by Ed Osmond