World Cup Skiing
In biathlon, Germany has shown itself to have the best overall men's and women's teams. The German women are particularly strong, having dominated the last pre-Olympic events a week ago at Antholz, Austria. Kati Wilhelm stands as a favorite for multiple medals at Torino, and she could easily be joined by Uschi Disl, Andrea Henkel, or other German women. Russians Svetlana Ishmouratova and Ablina Akhatova are also likely medalists, as are perennially strong racers like Liv Grete Poiree (Norway) and Sandrine Bailly (France). Though the German men haven't enjoyed quite the same level of success as their female counterparts, Alexander Wolf and especially Ricco Gross seem poised for a good Games. Back from a long illness, Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway is also of course likely to win several medals - and if his current form is an indication, they'll be golds. He'll be contending with Raphael Poiree (France), as usual, but unless the Russian men round into form rapidly, they're unlikely to do well. The high altitude of the Olympic venue at Cesana-San Sicario will be an important factor in all ten of the biathlon events. (Eurosport coverage - BiathlonWorld coverage)
In ski jumping, Jakub Janda (Czech Republic) has lost a bit of his early-season form just as Finns Janne Ahonen and Matti Hautamaki have started to show up. Though far down the overall standings, Hautamaki won both events last weekend at Zakopane, Poland - peaking at exactly the right time. Norwegians RoarLjoekelsoey and Bjoern Einar Romoeren, having split the previous competition in Japan, also may contend for medals on the Olympic hills at Pragelato. (Eurosport coverage)
Finally, in nordic combined, the United States stands a very good chance of winning its first-ever medals, thanks to Todd Lodwick. The American finished second and third in the two events at Seefeld, Austria, just behind the Finn Hannu Manninen, who has already clinched the overall title and stands as the overwhelming favorite to win both individual NC events and anchor Finland's likely-winning relay team. But Manninen is notoriously spotty at the big competitions, so Lodwick may well be able to jump his way into a lead which he can then maintain on the ski trails at Pragelato.