The stats speak for themselves. The World Cup curtain raiser is set to be a thrilling race. The season-opening Giant Slalom is staged at Soelden, where the underdog excels against all odds. Since the first edition in 1993 many racers have finished in the top 10 or top 3 despite starting way down the starting list
The sun begins to shine on the Rettenbach slope about one hour after the race gets underway and therefore anything can happen from bib 30 to the last skier down from that moment on. The sunny side of the course makes it easier to clear some difficult gates, especially in the first run. It's certain that thanks to the speeding up of the slope several unfancied names have finished on and near the podium on the occasion of the opening race
In 1998 Croatia's rising star Janica Kostelic ended 12th after starting with bib 54 and the future World Cup winner Anja Paerson of Sweden claimed 13th place, both racers earning their first ever World Cup points. Four years later a 19-year-old Nicole Hosp had the audacity to win despite wearing number 36 and stepped on the podium alongside Norway's Andrine Flemmen and Slovenia's Tina Maze. On that day the relatively-unknown Jessica Lindell Vikarby of Sweden finished 7th with bib 59.
The 2004 event was won by Anja Paerson, but the late starters continued to climb the ranking. US talent Julia Mancuso placed 15th (bib 40), Maria Pietilae-Holmner from Sweden ended 16th (bib 45) and Resi Stiegler of US took 23rd place coming down with bib 67
Twelve months later the Austrian women's squad got a great performance. Three years ago Kathrin Zettel finished 4th starting with bib 23 but the most astounding performance came from Andrea Fischbacher, who placed 5th despite taking off with number 44. French talent Tessa Worley stunned the field by finishing 5th wearing bib number 46
In a few days we might very well discover new faces. Stay tuned.