Here's a look at the top ten women in the Audi FIS World Cup Downhill Rankings after the last World Cup downhill competition before the Olympics - in parenthesis is the finish position in the Downhill portion of the super Combined (not the official finish - which was from after the Slalom was run).
1. Maria Hoefl-Riesch - Germany (5)
2. Tina Weirather - Liechtenstein (DNS)
3. Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden - Switzerland (DNF)
4. Anna Fenninger - Austria (4)
5. Tina Maze - Slovenia (3)
6. Lara Gut - Switzerland (2)
7. Elana Fanchini - Italy (14)
8. Elisabeth Goergl - Austria (7)
9. Dominique Gisin - Switzerland (10)
10.Cornelia Huetter - Austria (DNS)
Of course, we know that Julia Mancuso - The Big Game Girl - skied on the edge and won the Downhill of the super Combined by .47 seconds, but prior to the Olympics her best Downhill finish of the six races in the 2014 season was a 7th place. However, she was improving in every race.
That really makes it a tough call on who to rank in a Podium Pick. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, winner of three 2014 Downhill races got a big wake-up call in the Downhill portion of her super Combined race and she knows she needs to push it out - which I think she can, and will do. That said, here's how I see the women's Downhill for my Podium Picks:
- Gold - Maria Hoefl-Riesch - Germany
- Silver - Julia Mancuso - USA
- Bronze - Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden - Switzerland
After watching Julia Mancuso I really do think she can repeat her Downhill performance, and I'm not just saying that because she's on the U.S. Ski Team. In fact, if the snow conditions stay warm she could have a slight advantage over the 5'11" Hoefl-Riesch. Kaufmann-Abderhalden is a solid speed skier who has been on the podium three times this season, including a win, and she should rebound and ski this race well enough to get up there again.
Check out how the top ten on the Women's Audi FIS World Cup Downhill Rankings has evolved over the course of the six 2014 races in Women's World Cup Downhill - Road To Sochi. If you have different Podium Picks go to Facebook About Skiing and let us know.
Maria Hoefl-Riesch with super Combined Gold medal Copyright Streeter Lecka /Getty Images Sports/Getty Images