2017 World Cup Finals: Men to Watch
Steven Nyman, USA
Hometown: Sundance, Utah
Birthdate: Feb. 12, 1982
Nyman is a veteran on the U.S. Ski Team, having been to three Winter Olympics (2006, 2010, 2014) and having competed in every World Championship since 2007. One of the best American downhill skiers, Nyman is coming off one of his best seasons.
The Utah native finished 20th overall in the World Cup in 2016, where he finished sixth overall in the downhill for the second straight season. He was 28th overall in the super-G last winter.
Nyman finished last season on fire, finding the podium four straight times. The highlight came in the World Cup Finals in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where he finished second in the downhill, only 0.08 seconds behind Swiss Beat Fuez. St. Moritz will host the World Championships in February.
Nyman looks to the main leg of a strong downhill tripod that includes teammates Andrew Weibrecht and Travis Ganong. If Nyman can build off his success to end the 2016 season, he could be a real contender for the overall downhill title in 2017.
“Steven has made ups and downs in his career, but the last couple of years he’s been step-by-step progressing in a very good way,” U.S. men’s ski team head coach Sasha Rearick said. “Definitely looking for him to continue that progression.”
Ted Ligety, USA
Hometown: Park City, Utah
Birthdate: Aug. 31, 1984
America’s giant slalom demigod is back. Ligety is a five-time World Cup GS champion (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) and finished third overall in the 2013 World Cup season.
After finishing 11th overall in 2015 and third in the GS, 2016 ended with a thud after a hot start. A couple of early-season podiums led to a season-ending knee injury, a first for the veteran. The two-time Olympic gold medalist looks ready to take back his GS crown with his injury behind him.
“Ted Ligety is coming back from a major injury. So far we’ve had no setbacks,” U.S. Ski Team head coach Sasha Rearick said. “It’s been a good progression.”
Not only is Ligety eyeing another World Cup GS title, but he is the three-time reigning World Champion in the GS, as well, and looks to make it four straight when the World Championship comes to St. Moritz later this winter.
Bode Miller, USA
Hometown: Franconia, New Hampshire
Birthdate: Oct. 12, 1977
The American ski legend won’t go away. Despite having turned 39 in October and having sat out the entire 2016 season — not to mention his nasty lawsuit with his former sponsor, Head Skis — Miller should once again be someone to keep an eye on when he returns to the snow in 2017.
Miller will be chasing his own legacy more than anything this winter. He is a five-time Olympian, having won a gold medal in super combined in 2010. Miller also has four World Championship gold medals to his name, and is a two-time overall World Cup champion (2005, 2008). He is a three-time combined World Cup champion (2003, 2004, 2008), two-time super-G champion (2005, 2007) and one-time GS champ (2004). He owns the American male record for career World Cup wins.
Miller has flirted with retirement before. He also missed the entire 2013 season recovering from an injury, had a successful 2014 campaign, and then severed a hamstring tendon in a crash at the World Championships in 2015 that cost him all of last season.
“I tried retiring a couple of times,” Miller said after his injury in 2015. “It just didn’t stick.”
Miller made his broadcasting debut on NBC last winter, but seems poised to hold off his official retirement for at least one more season.
Marcel Hirscher, Austria
Hometown: Annaberg, Austria
Birthdate: March 2, 1989
Until further notice, the world of Alpine ski racing belongs to Marcel Hirscher. The Austrian is in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches in the sport’s history and has given no indication he’s about to slow down.
Hirscher has won the overall World Cup title five times, a record held with fellow Austrian Marc Giradelli, although Hirscher has won his five in each of the previous five seasons. To go with his 40 career World Cup victories and 92 podiums as of mid-November, Hirscher is a two-time Olympian — an Olympic gold medal is about the only thing missing from his trophy case.
“Not many people know how difficult it is to be on the top for many races and many years,” Hirscher said in an interview with CNN in March. “But what can you do? One day the motivation will run out, and, when it does, I’ll retire.”
And Hirscher losing motivation seems to be the only way anyone will catch him in terms of the overall World Cup title.
In 2016, Hirscher dominated the World Cup by winning the overall title in GS, taking second in slalom and sixth in super-G. He won the overall title by nearly 500 points over Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen.