Happy Holidays from Realskiers! Thanks to all who contributed their opinions about our “Top 10 Skiers” list, particularly those of you who chimed in on our Facebook page. We look forward to an exciting New Year of news and reviews in 2016/17!
As was the case with our men’s picks last week, we were unable to limit our selections to ten. We also arbitrarily cut off our qualifying field to skiers competing after 1950.
We continue to focus on elite alpine racers, leaving Pipe & Park athletes as well as multiple generations of mogul masters and freestyle expressionists for future list fodder.
Because such lists are themselves competitions, we selected three women to stand on our podium, with the rest of a very talented field arranged below them alphabetically.
Lindsey Vonn speeding toward Stenmark’s record of 86 wins with 71 of her own as of December 2015
Lindsey Vonn – Before this ultra-competitive athlete is done, she’ll own every record in the books. We expect a thrilling rivalry to resume once Anna Fenninger is back in the gates, pushing Vonn to continue her reign of excellence.
Annemarie Moser-Pröll – Winner of an unmatched 6 Overall titles (and second twice), it’s mostly Moser-Pröll’s records that Vonn is eclipsing. She partied as hard as she skied, but that never seemed to slow down the all-event threat, who won her only Olympic gold in the DH at Lake Placid.
Vreni Schneider – For total technical achievement, Schneider is in a league of her own. She amassed 5 GS globes and 6 in SL; her 11 technical titles are 4 more than the total won by Vonn, Moser-Pröll, Kronberger and Kostelic combined. Her record 14 wins in a single season (1989) has yet to be beaten by man or woman.
Other Immortals (in alphabetical order):
Anna Fenninger – Sidelined by injury this season, Fenninger displayed true grit and world-beating talent when she won her second big globe last year (and the GS title) coming from behind to nip the brilliant Tina Maze on the last run of the year.
Michela Figini – The youngest Olympic alpine ski champion, Figini was 17 when she won the DH gold at Sarajevo. She validated her credentials when she took the DH crown at the Worlds the next year, along with 1985 DH, GS and Overall titles.
Nancy Greene – With more World Cup wins than any other Canadian, Greene ruled racing in the first two seasons of the White Circus. In her breakout year (1967), she won 7 of 16 races (4 GS, 2 SL, 1 DH), then capped her career with a GS gold at Grenoble in 1968.
Renate Götschl – The winner of 11 World Cup titles (5 DH, 3 SG, 2 KB, 1 Overall), Götschl racked up 46 wins (4th all time) and 110 podiums during her career. She won in every event but GS; her 24 DH wins were only 1 shy of the Kaiser’s record.
Erica Hess – Who knows how many SL and Overall globes Hess might have won had she not retired at the tender age of 25 with 31 victories, 76 podiums, 2 Overall titles and 5 SL globes? Hess’s talents were on full display in her duel with Tamara McKinney for technical dominance in the early-to-mid 1980’s.
Andrea Mead Lawrence – Already a veteran of one Olympics, Mead was still only 19 when she captained the 1952 U.S. squad at Oslo, where she proceeded to capture gold in both SL and GS. Before she competed at the next Olympics she gave birth to 3 children and still barely missed medaling.
Maria Höfl-Riesch – An all-event talent, Riesch would have won 5 big globes instead of one (2011) had she not competed in the same era as Vonn, Maze and Fenninger. She still managed to win 5 discipline titles: 2 SL, 1 DH, 1 SG and 1 SC.
Janica Kostelić – One of the greatest 5-event skiers ever, Kostelić equaled Kronberger’s feat of winning a race in every discipline in a single season. Injuries cut short a career that was already remarkable: 3 Overall titles and 3 SL globes share a trophy case with 30 World Cup first-place awards.
Petra Kronberger – Kronberger’s meteoric career – she won the Overall in only her third season, won 2 more in succession, then retired – reached its apogee in December, 1990, when she won races in 4 different disciplines: SL, GS, SG and DH. She completed the modern slam the next month with a win in the Combined.
Tamara McKinney – McKinney’s technical mastery (18 career wins, all in SL and GS) earned her the 1983 Overall cup, but it was her thrilling, gold-medal run in the DH portion of the Combined at the Vail World Championships in 1989 that cemented her reputation as a skier with as much talent as competitive fire.
Tina Maze – No one, man or woman, has ever had a season like Maze’s in 2013: 3 discipline titles, the Overall globe and records for prize money, points and victory margin. Maze had another pair of Overall and GS globes in her grasp 2 seasons later, only to lose both in a last-run-of-the-season defeat by the stunning Fenninger.
Anja Pärson – Originally a technical specialist, Pärson evolved into an all-event champion, becoming the first racer to win a World Championship gold in all 5 disciplines. Her 42 wins and 2 Overall titles are in addition to a record 17 individual World Championship and Olympic medals, more than any other woman.
Marlies Schild – While Schild had the talent to compete in all events, it was in slalom that she excelled, winning more SL races (35) than any other woman in history. This focus earned her 4 SL globes to go along with another in SC.
Katja Seizinger – Of Seizinger’s 38 World Cup wins, 34 were in speed events, yet her GS chops (4 career wins) provided sufficient points to make her Overall champ twice. Germany’s most successful racer, she took home the cup in DH 4 times and SG another 5, as well as DH gold at successive Olympics (1994 and 1998).
Mikaela Shiffrin (like Fenninger, out for 2016) – It may seem premature to place Shiffrin on this list, but she has won the last three World Cup SL trophies and is the reigning Olympic and World Champion in the event. She set a record for margin of victory (3.07) earlier this season in Aspen, so there’s little doubt she has the requisite skills for sustained success.
Maria Walliser – Walliser won 2 Overall titles (1986, 1987), each time tacking on a different pair of additional discipline titles, DH and Combined in ’86. SG and GS in ’87. A DH diva, she won World Championship gold in ’87 and ’89 to go along with a silver from Sarajevo.
Hanni Wenzel – A 2-time Overall champion, Wenzel barely missed winning every alpine event at the Lake Placid Olympics when she finished second in the DH. That same season (1980), she took home Overall, Combined and GS season titles. Brother Andreas won the men’s Overall title the same season, a unique family sweep.
Andrea Mead Lawrence, America’s first superstar skier