After a successful debut in 2014 and Canada's triumphant win in Pyeongchang this year, team figure skating is already rising in popularity, but scheduling conflicts and a seeming lack of interest may undercut the debut of team Alpine skiing, a new event at this year's Winter Olympics. The International Ski Federation created the new format to revitalize interest by introducing new elements into the sport, including mixed gender competition, knockout racing, and parallel skiing. Sixteen teams will compete in a knockout format, and the winners of the final round will bring home the gold.
Several of the sport's brightest stars cited the upcoming World Cup as their reason for backing out of the event.
Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher, winner of two gold medals in Pyeongchang, said he would be honored to represent his country, but Hirscher has his eyes set on a seventh consecutive overall title at the World Cup. And Norway lost two of its best contenders as Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud headed back to Europe following their individual events.
Team USA had their own trouble keeping their best talent around for the event.
Lindsey Vonn doesn't like Team USA's chances after the withdrawal of Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin.
Vonn confirmed she would not be competing in the team event:
I was an absolute no before but I was thinking about it. But now Ted’s gone and Mikaela is not doing it and so I don’t really think we have a strong chance of getting a medal since none of our top athletes are doing it so I probably won’t.
The absence of many of the sport's best competitors is likely to hurt overall interest during its debut.
No good skiers are competing in the new alpine team event 😭— Julia (@juliaswiftie33) February 20, 2018
H/T - HuffPost