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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Alpine World Cup Kicks Off in Soelden, Austria

By Megan Harrod
October, 22 2021
Paula Moltzan
Paula Moltzan takes some final turns in the Soelden, Austria "Ice Box" prior to Saturday's FIS Ski World Cup opener, and first official Olympic qualifying event. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Marc Amann)

The anticipation is palpable as the FIS Ski World Cup season kicks off at Soelden, Austria on the Rettenbach glacier for what is the longest, steepest, most sustained pitch of any giant slalom on tour. Soelden is like the start of a new school year after a long summer break—hugs, happiness, and high stoke levels for a new season of ski racing. The energy is high, the nervous vibes can be felt, and the athletes are ready to kick out of the start gate. 

Speaking of kicking out of the start gate, two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin will kick out the gate bib number one. Teammate Nina O’Brien, who made an impressive leap into the top-15 last season, will start 11, followed by Paula Moltzan in bib 27, AJ Hurt 34, and Keely Cashman 56. Cashman will return to the World Cup start gate for the first time in 10 months, having crashed while training super-G in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany mid-2020-21 season, sustaining a minor MCL strain, hematoma in both hips, and a temporary loss of feeling in her foot from bruising. 

Soelden is always a bit of a pariah on the World Cup circuit...it’s three weeks before the rest of the season kicks off, and everyone is trying to get their feel and see where they stack up against their competitors. On top of that, it’s an unrelenting, often brutal track in which athletes have to capitalize on the steeps and carry their speed onto the flats...and flats there are. In fact, in Friday night’s team meeting, coach Magnus Andersson reminded the athletes to “take advantage of the flats...I saw Ted Ligety win a lot of races here on the flats.” Like, for instance, in 2012 when he won by an unthinkable 2.75 seconds. Wow. Imagine that. 

Yet, athletes still don’t feel prepared coming into Soelden...including the likes of Shiffrin, one of the best skiers of all time. In a press conference prior to Soelden, she said, “I never feel ready for Soelden. Maybe there are some athletes who are like, ‘Okay, it’s time to race, I’m so ready to race now.’ But I’m pretty much ‘no I don’t want to race, I don’t want to race I’m not ready yet’ until it’s time to go and you don’t have a choice and then you go.” Ever-understated is the 69-time World Cup victor Shiffrin. 

Fans will remember last year, as Shiffrin sat out due to a tweaked back, teammates Moltzan and O’Brien shined. Moltzan skied from bib 62 to take 10th place—her best FIS Ski World Cup finish ever at the time, while O’Brien also snagged a best-ever giant slalom result at the time, finishing 15th. All of the women have been training fast and have a solid preparation period under their belts as they tackle Soelden—a welcome change from last year’s season, which was affected due to COVID-19. 

On the men’s side, veteran and 2020 Bormio World Cup super-G victor Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who suffered from a “minor broken neck,” as he stated on his Instagram, will be returning to competition for the first time since his crash on the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbuehel, Austria. Cochran-Siegle will lead a promising group of up-and-comers, including River Radamus, Bridger Gile, George Steffey, and the former University of New Hampshire Wildcat Patrick Kenney—who will get his inaugural World Cup start. 

As far as viewing goes, fans have two options. NBC’s Peacock will once again be streaming the event live and it will be available on-demand, and the races will also be offered free of charge with English commentary at Skiworldcuplive.

STARTERS

Women
Keely Cashman
AJ Hurt 
Paula Moltzan
Nina O’Brien
Mikaela Shiffrin

Men
Ryan Cochran-Siegle
Bridger Gile
Patrick Kenney*
River Radamus
George Steffey

*First World Cup start

HOW TO WATCH

Saturday, Oct. 23
4:00 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's GS - run 1 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Peacock
4:00 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's GS - run 1 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Ski World Cup Live
7:15 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's GS - run 2 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Peacock
7:15 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Women's GS - run 2 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Ski World Cup Live

Sunday, Oct. 24
4:00 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's GS - run 1 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Peacock
4:00 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's GS - run 1 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Ski World Cup Live
7:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's GS - run 2 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Peacock
7:30 a.m. FIS Alpine World Cup Men's GS - run 2 LIVE, Sölden, AUT, Streaming Ski World Cup Live

Sport-specific broadcast and streaming schedules are available below:

Broadcast and streaming schedules on Peacock Premium will be updated on a weekly basis throughout the season.