KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The Russians put the first man in space but, strangely, they have no Yuri Gagarin in alpine skiing.
The host country for the 2014 Sochi Olympics has, by all accounts, provided a first-track for the alpine events at Rosa Khutor.
Men and women are raving about the course set up. Yet, barring some "do you believe in miracles?" upset, Russian skiers will mostly be spectators for the 10 Olympic events.
Alpine is one of the premiere events in the Winter Olympics but the Russians just aren’t good at it.
The former Soviet Union and Russia, combined, have two Olympic alpine medals and both went to women.
The only Soviet skier to medal in alpine was Evgenia Sidorova, who won bronze in slalom at the 1956 Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
The only post-Soviet medal was won by Svetlana Gladysheva, who took silver in the super G at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.
The official Sochi Olympics information site explains the “Soviet Union made its international debut in 1948 at the Holmenkollen event in Norway but due to the lack of experience and domestic training facilities, and outdated equipment, the squad’s results were unremarkable.”
Not much has changed. Russia’s chances of making a home-country alpine impression are slim to “nyet.”
Only one Russian, Alexander Glebov, participated in Friday’s downhill training run in advance of Sunday’s race.
Glebov finished 40th, nearly five seconds behind leader Matthias Mayer of Austria.
Two Russian women finished 39th and 40th in Friday’s downhill training run.
The official Sochi Olympic information site states “Alexander Khoroshilov will be Russia’s main medal hope” in alpine.
Khoroshilov finished 26th in the World Cup slalom rankings last season.