Mikaela Shiffrin is just 26 years old. It's easy to forget that when you look at her successes: three overall World Cup victories, two Olympic gold medals, six World Cup titles. Almost all female skiers don't achieve a collection like that by the end of their careers. However, Shiffrin is not a "normal" skier in the field either.
She has always been an exceptional skier, winning the world's most important races as a child. And she picked up where she left off in the adults: At the start of the 2021/22 season, the slalom specialist claimed her 70th World Cup victory in Sölden - already breathing down the necks of the eternal World Cup record winners Ingemar Stenmark (86 victories) and Lindsey Vonn (82).
After finishing fourth and second overall in the World Cup in the past two seasons, Shiffrin is looking to win her fourth major crystal globe this winter - and then there's the Beijing Olympics to look forward to.
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Slovakia's Petra Vlhova is Shiffrin's biggest rival. After finishing second and third, the Slovak finally won the overall World Cup for the first time in 2020/21.
The 26-year-old now skis with similar confidence and speed in the technical disciplines as the US American. In 2020/21 she even dominated the slalom.
However, one thing is still missing for Vlhova: an Olympic medal.
She has an exceptional position in the Slovakian ski federation and tours the world successfully with her own team. She only has to catch up with Shiffrin in terms of social media followers.
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Frenchman Alexis Pinturault has won the discipline classification in the combined six times so far. This flexibility makes him a big earner in alpine ski racing every year - and after the retirement of dominator Marcel Hirscher, the champion. In 2019/20, Pinturault still had to settle for second place before it was actually enough to win his first overall World Cup title in 2020/21.
It was the highlight so far for one of theof the last all-rounders in the Ski World Cup. Now the 30-year-old has another big goal in mind: his first Olympic gold after a total of one silver and two bronze medals at the past two Winter Games.
By the way: Pinturault holds both French and Norwegian citizenship - because of his mother Hege. His father owns the Annapurna Hotel in France's Courchevel ski resort.
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Henrik Kristoffersen is always up for a joke on social media. The Norwegian not only shows his skills there, but also very funny snapshots. There's only one thing the Norwegian hasn't managed yet: an overall World Cup victory. Five years he was second or third at the end of a World Cup season. But it was just not enough for the big globe.
After the retirement of Marcel Hirscher he was considered as his potential successor. But the Norwegian, who lives and trains in Austria, has not yet been able to live up to these expectations.In 2021/22, the 2019 Giant Slalom World Champion and two-time Olympic medalist is attacking again.
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Johannes Thingnes has always been considered the more talented of the two Bö brothers - but it took until 2019 before Johannes Thingnes Bö could claim the title as overall World Cup winner like his older brother Tarjei Bö did before.
In the meantime, Johannes Thingnes is the biathlon dominator with three overall titles in a row, living up to his role as the great hope of the Norwegians after the retirement of Ole Einar Björndalen in 2018. Bö also took Olympic gold back in 2018, will more medals follow in 2022?
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The women's biathlon World Cup is now also in Norwegian hands: In the 2020/2021 season Tiril Eckhoff dominated almost at will and secured her first overall title after finishing second in the previous year. The late crowning at the age of 30, after Eckhoff as a mid-twenties often still had to fight for top ten finishes.
Eckhoff could then fulfill the dream of her first individual medal at the 2022 Olympics. She has already collected five Olympic medals in the relay and mixed relays - including one gold in the mixed relay in Sochi in 2014.
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On Instagram she has been the most successful biathlete for a long time, and in 2018/19 this step followed in the World Cup as well, when Dorothea Wierer became the overall World Cup winner and was able to defend this title in the 2019/20 season as well. Especially because she also became stronger in the cross-country in the past years. Shooting has always been easy for Wierer in the two-discipline sport. Then in the past season 2020/21, there was a setback for the first time again with fifth place in the overall standings.
In the mass start, Wierer also won her first world championship title in March 2019, before which she already won two silver and three bronze medals. In addition, there are two bronze medals in the mixed relay at the Olympics in 2014 and 2018.
The South Tyrolean is particularly popular as an advertising figure. Thus, she has been able to attract other well-known sponsors such as Red Bull or Joka in the summer after her overall World Cup victory.
After her wedding in 2016, Wierer auctioned off her dress to benefit earthquake victims in Nepal. She also already had an offer from the Russian Playboy, but turned it down and also justified this with the photo modeling on the computer: "I don't want to be edited."
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Out of nowhere Halvor Egner Granerud jumped past the world's top athletes to the top of the ski jumping World Cup in winter 2020/21. The Norwegian, who couldn't win a single jump before, secured the overall title with eleven World Cup victories.
The 25-year-old was also unstoppable in the 2021 Summer World Cup. His plan for the Olympic season 21/22: "I want to jump better in the coming winter than last winter."
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Poland's Kamil Stoch is one of the most famous faces in ski jumping. For years he has been good for podium finishes, three times he won the Four Hills Tournament, twice he became World Champion - and three times Olympic Champion. That's why he even has his own clothing line in Poland: Kamiland.
Although Stoch's last overall World Cup title dates back to the 2017/18 season, the Pole showed that he can be right there when it counts at the 2020/21 Four Hills Tournament, where he impressively left the then dominator Granerud behind.
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