The first race of the women’s World Cup season is this Saturday, a giant slalom race down the Rettenbach Glacier. The venue has been hosting this competition annually for nearly two decades. This year, the field will be missing some major players due to injury including Italy’s Federica Brignone, Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, Austria’s Anna Veith and Eva-Maria Brem.
With top athletes on the sidelines, it could make room for new faces to lead the pack. Here’s who will be starting at Soelden.
The home team will be represented by a nine-athlete squad: Stephanie Brunner, Nadine Fest, Ricarda Haaser, Elisabeth Kappaurer, Katharina Liensberger, Chiara Mair, Bernadette Schild, Carmen Thalmann, and Katharina Truppe.
The Attacking Vikings will be led by veteran World Cup racers Raghnild Mowinckel, Nina Loeseth and Kristin Lysdahl. They will be joined by up-and-comers Mina Fuerst Holtmann and Kristine Haugen.
Say “bonjour” to the small French squad led by last year’s World Cup GS globe winner Tessa Worley. Taina Barioz and Marie Massios will kick out of the start gate as well. Originally, Coralie Frasse-Sombet was slated to start, but was injured last week.
The Swiss contingency is stacked with talent including Wendy Holdener, Melanie Meillard, Jasmina Suter, Elena Stoffel, Aline Daniot and Rachel Kopp. They also have a surprise entrant, Lara Gut, who decided to race at the last minute. Simone Wild was slated to start, but broke her right shin bone in training this week.
Tina Weirather, the 2017 super-G globe winner, is always one to watch.
After last season’s success, this Italian squad is one to keep an eye on. Even with Brignone skipping the race, they have still have strong podium potential thanks to Sofia Goggia and Marta Bassino. They will be accompanied by Elena Curtoni, Irene Curtoni, Manuela Moelgg, and Laura Pirovano. Additionally, two more teammates will make their Soelden debut, Luisa Bertani and Jole Galli.
Germany will have a four-woman team featuring Viktoria Rebensburg, Patrizia Dorsch, Jessica Hilzinger, and Maren Wiesler.
Norway’s neighbors have a strong team that includes Frida Hansdotter, Sara Hector, Emelie Wikstroem, Ylva Stalnacke, Magdalena Fjallstroem, and Estelle Alphand.
Our northern neighbor’s have a small, but mighty group. Marie-Michele Gagnon leads the team of three. Valerie Grenier and Mikaela Tommy will also push out of the start gate. Ali Nullmeyer was slated to compete, but was injured in training.
Slovenia expects to have five starters: Anna Drev, Tina Robnik, Ana Bucik, Meta Hrovat and Desieree Alijec.
Alex Tilley will be the lone representative in the ladies’ race.
Details on the U.S. Ski Team’s lineup can be found here.
Who is your pick to win this weekend’s race? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: Since first publishing this story, Switzerland’s Lara Gut has decided to start in Saturday’s race despite statements in September indicating she would skip the race.