After a week of postponements due to adverse weather and heavy snowfall,
the condition of the snow on the pistes, and who sets the slalom course, could play a key role.
Pärson has played second fiddle to Vonn and Riesch for the past two seasons, but has returned to form in timely fashion this season with six podiums and her 41st career World Cup win, in a super-combined, at St. Moritz two weeks ago.
A seven-time world champion, the 29-year-old was the most decorated female skier of the Turin Olympics winning slalom gold and two bronzes from the combined and the downhill.
Having claimed her first World Cup win as a 17-year-old, the Swede is set to make this her final Olympics – and she wants to bow out in style.
“It doesn’t matter which event it is,” she said. “I’ll do well in it.”
German star Riesch has said that she has a “good feeling” about her chances, which is only natural as she won a super-combined in Whistler almost exactly two years ago.
A strong downhiller, the big German – a close friend who has finished runner-up to Vonn too many times for her own liking – could make the difference in the slalom, in which she is world champion.
“It’s my goal to win a medal, preferably gold. If I succeed, I’d be absolutely delighted. Anything can happen in each of the disciplines,” said Riesch, who finished behind Vonn when the American won a super-combined in Val d’Isere, France in December.
But however much they try, Vonn, for many, will still head into the super-combined Thursday with as much chance of winning gold as she has going into her pet event of the downhill a day earlier.
Adding spice is the fact Vonn has a score to settle with the two-discipline event that tests skiers’ skills to the full in a downhill and slalom.
At last year’s world championships in Val d’Isere the American was leading the race for the super-combined gold but was disqualified after the slalom when she straddled a gate.
That minor discretion has now been forgotten, especially as Vonn has since won the overall World Cup overall crown, and the World Cup downhill and super-G titles – all for the second time.
In theory, Vonn’s speed in the downhill, an event she has won five times consecutively this season, should give her the kind of cushion she needs for
the second leg slalom, in which she is weaker.