Eva-Maria Brem, the reigning World Cup giant slalom champion and Austrian Sportswoman of the Year, broke her lower left leg in a crash Friday and will be out four to six months, according to Austria’s ski federation.
Brem, 28, completed a steady rise last season to the top of the giant slalom standings, winning twice and adding a pair of runner-ups on the World Cup circuit.
However, Brem was 26th in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 22.
The favorites for this season’s World Cup giant slalom title, in Brem’s absence, appear to be World Cup overall champion Lara Gut of Switzerland and American Mikaela Shiffrin, who went one-two in Soelden.
Shiffrin, an Olympic, world and World Cup champion in the slalom, finished fifth in the Sochi Olympic giant slalom, won her first World Cup giant slalom later in 2014 and finished third in the World Cup giant slalom standings in 2015 before missing much of last season due to injury.
Brem is the latest star skier to suffer a major leg injury, following those to Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn, Anna Veith and Shiffrin last season.
The World Cup season continues with men’s and women’s slaloms in Levi, Finland, next weekend.
But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.
She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.
No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.
No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seleswon the 1996 Australian Open.
But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.
Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.
Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).
No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 12 Frances Tiafoe are the highest-seeded Americans, looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.