The men's Slalom race is always a big draw on the World Cup Tour. As it happens, most of Slalom racing is done on the European venues. It is so popular that all the races are broadcast live and then rebroadcast over and over.
When you put these racers in an Olympic setting, it's not just a crowd pleaser for the fans on the snow. Millions of television fans around the world get to see the action, as well.
As I said, Europeans love to watch slalom racing. So, it's no surprise that historically most of the top slalom skiers have been European and that holds true today.
If you want to talk to the last male U.S. Ski Team member to stand on an Olympic Slalom podium, stop by Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah and see one of the Mahre brothers. Both Phil (Gold) and Steve (Silver) Mahre accomplished this together - at Sarajevo in 1984 - thirty years ago!
That said, there are a few racers that can come out of nowhere and win this 2014 Sochi Slalom over the best efforts of the those at the top of the FIS World Cup Slalom.
However, I'm thinking that to climb over Marcel Hirscher of Austria in this one someone has to be really on their game. In the last two World Cup seasons Hirscher was on every Slalom podium but two, and he is the reigning Slalom World Champion.
If, and that's a big if, Hirscher falters, Felix Neureuther of Germany, who has won twice this season could be right there. Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway will also be chasing the gold, but look for France's Jean-Baptiste Grange to be the wild card and very possibly the spoiler.
I'll say goodbye to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics with my Podium Picks for the men's Slalom race:
- Marcel Hirscher - Austria
- Jean-Baptiste Grange - France
- Henrik Kristoffersen - Norway
David Chodounsky is on tap for the U.S. and he has a seventh place Slalom finish this season. Also on the start list - Ted Ligety who's always straight out and Nolan Kasper - holds a World Cup slalom second two years ago!
Check out my Men's World Cup Slalom - Road To Sochi and you'll see how the men's Audi FIS World Cup 2014 Slalom Ranking has evolved following each of the 2014 Slalom races and read a brief analysis of each race.
Jean-Baptiste Grange Copyright Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images