Kathrin Zettel

Andrea Fischbacher, 2010 gold medalist, left off Austrian Olympic Alpine team

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When Austria secured the maximum 22 quota spots for its Olympic Alpine team, there figured to be few surprises when its roster was announced.

Instead, there was a shocker.

Andrea Fischbacher, the Vancouver Olympic champion in the super-G, was not among the selections to the world’s strongest overall squad.

Fischbacher, 28, seemed like a lock to make it judging by her pair of Top-10 finishes at last year’s World Championships in Schladming, as well as respectable finishes in the Beaver Creek downhill (8th), as well as the two Cortina d’Ampezzo downhills (10th and 11th). Austria, is in the midst of an even stronger season this year. Her best super-G finish of the season, however, was 17th in Beaver Creek, and she skied out of the final race in Cortina on Sunday, which likely impacted her not being chosen.

Without Fischbacher, Austria will still quite the formidable unit in Sochi. Of the 22 skiers named, 16 have made at least one prior trip to the Games and four have won medals. Marcel Hirscher is a medal contender in at least three men’s events, while the women’s team boasts podium potential in Anna Fenninger, Marlies Schild and Elisabeth Goergl.

The team was dealt an unexpected blow when Hannes Reichelt, the only Austrian to win a World Cup downhill this season, was ruled out of the Games with a herniated disk in his back. Joachim Puchner has been named as his replacement..

Austria’s entire Olympic team will be made up of 130 athletes.

Benjamin Raich, a two-time gold medalist in Torino in 2006, will make his fourth Olympic appearance and has been elected to be the Austrian flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony in Sochi.

Here is a look at their roster:

Women:

Anna Fenninger – 2010 Olympian

Elisabeth Goergl – 2006-10 Olympian, 2x medalist

Nicole Hosp – 2006 Olympian

Cornelia Huetter

Michaela Kirchgasser – 2006-10 Olympian

Bernadette Schild

Marlies Schild – 2002-10 Olympian, 3x medalist

Nicole Schmidhofer – 2010 Olympian

Regina Sterz – 2010 Olympian

Kathrin Zettel – 2006-10 Olympian

Men:

Romed Baumann – 2010 Olympian

Max Franz

Reinfried Herbst – 2006 Olympian, 1x medalist

Marcel Hirscher – 2010 Olympian

Klaus Kroell – 2006-10 Olympian

Mario Matt – 2006 Olympian

Matthias Mayer

Benjamin Raich – 2002-10 Olympian, 4x medalist

Joachim Puchner

Philipp Schoerghofer – 2010 Olympian

Georg Streitberger – 2010 Olympian

Otmar Striedinger

U.S. Olympic Alpine team announced

Mikaela Shiffrin lands on Lienz GS podium, Olympic team

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In landing on another podium, Mikaela Shiffrin made sure she also landed a spot in Sochi in a second event.

The American teen finished third behind Austrian Anna Fenninger and Swede Jessica Lindell-Vikarby in a World Cup giant slalom Saturday in Lienz, Austria, the final Olympic qualifying event in the discipline.

With the next World Cup giant slalom race not scheduled until Feb. 1 in Maribor, Slovenia, and the U.S. selecting its Olympic Team on Jan. 26, this was the final opportunity for American skiers to earn points toward Sochi qualification in the discipline.

Shiffrin had already locked up her spot on the Olympic team with her slalom victory in Levi, Finland on Nov. 16, and her runner-up finish in the giant slalom at Beaver Creek on Dec. 1 also virtually assured her an Olympic GS start. Athletes with World Cup podium finishes are nominated for inclusion in the Games. Scoring a second podium finish only served to cement her candidacy.

Based on criteria, three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso would appear to be the next U.S. choice. She could have made that decision a no-brainer with a Top 10 finish – her best GS finish this season was a 12th in St. Moritz on Dec. 15 – but she continued her season-long struggles and wound up finishing 29th. Megan McJames, the only other American on the startlist, did not help her chances of making the Sochi roster when she hooked a tip a few gates before the finish of the first run and skied out.

Although slalom is clearly Shiffrin’s best event – she is the reigning world champion and has reached eight podiums in 22 World Cup starts with five victories – she is steadily entering the conversation of serious medal contenders in giant slalom as well.

Shiffrin has four Top 10 finishes in five starts in the discipline this season, the only blemish a DNF in St. Moritz on Dec. 15. Prior to this race, she opened with a sixth-place effort in Soelden on Oct. 26, finished second in Beaver Creek, and finished eighth in Val d’Isere on Dec. 22.

After one run, Shiffrin found herself in fourth place, .35 seconds behind the pace set by Lindell-Vikarby, who managed difficult conditions on the Hochstein course to open scant leads on Austrians Fenninger and Kathrin Zettel, who came in .02 seconds and .04 seconds behind.

“I’m normally pretty comfortable within half a second on a first run,” Shiffrin said. “It’s always better to come down and feel like you separated yourself from everybody, but I’m not quite there in GS. As long as I am in this position where I can really attack I’m psyched with that.”

Unlike her first run, where she dumped a few fractions of a second in the middle of the course, Shiffrin gained speed through that portion of her second run and carried a .68 second lead to the finish. Zettel followed, but lost most of her first-run advantage by the first time interval and wound up finishing fourth.

Fenninger absolutely pinned the top half of her second run and saw her .33 second advantage on Shiffrin at the start almost double by the first interval. She maintained that speed through the middle and lower sections and crossed with a half-second lead on Shiffrin. Lindell-Vikarby was unable to match that performance, assuring Fenninger of her third straight victory in World Cup races held on Dec. 28. Fenninger, who won this race in 2011, is the first woman to win the Lienz giant slalom twice.

“My preparation was good but I didn’t believe I could win today,” Fenninger told the Associated Press. “It’s funny that I’ve done it again on the 28th. I came here full of good memories and I tried to build on that feeling. I’ve learned a lot in recent years. I used to get distracted easily at races in Austria but now I use the home support as positive energy.”

All five World Cup giant slalom races this season have been won by different women.

It was not a good day for reigning World Cup overall champion Tina Maze of Slovenia and 2010 Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, who each found themselves than two seconds off the lead pace set by Lindell-Vikarby during Run 1. Maze wound up finishing 14th while Rebensburg was 24th.

American Lindsey Vonn is sitting out this weekend to rest her re-injured right knee ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

Lindell-Vikarby added 80 points to her season total and continues to lead the World Cup season standings in giant slalom 332 points. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, who finished 17th, remains the overall points leader with 609, 12 points ahead of Fenninger.

“The overall World Cup is not really an issue now, although people keep asking me about it,” Fenninger told AP.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues in Lienz tomorrow with the women’s slalom. The first run begins at 4:30 a.m. ET and second run at 7:30 a.m. ET. Shiffrin and Austria’s Marlies Schild figure to be among the top contenders.

“Last time I was in Lienz, I didn’t have a great GS race but I had a pretty good slalom race, so I’m really excited for tomorrow,” said Shiffrin, who earned her first World Cup slalom podium as a 16-year-old on this course. “I’m just thinking day-by-day and trying to put my best skiing out there. I feel like I always leave something on the hill, and I don’t want to do that anymore.”

Lienz Giant Slalom

1. Anna Fenninger (AUT) 2:17.00

2. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) 2:17.50

3. Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) 2:17.51

4. Kathrin Zettel (AUT) 2:17.96

5. Nadia Fanchini (ITA) 2:18.19

6. Federica Brignone (ITA) 2:18.30

7. Maria Pietilae-Holmner (SWE) 2:19.21

8. Anemone Marmottan (FRA) 2:19.33

9. Nina Loeseth (NOR) 2:19.48

10. Denise Karbon (ITA) 2:19.54

29. Julia Mancuso (USA)

DNF Megan McJames (USA)