The Ski World Cup is back
As the first frosts descend, bringing a sprinkling of snow to the mountains, the allure of the ski slopes calls, once more. And so, the countdown to the Ski World Cup 2013/2014 begins. While the professionals put the finishing touches to their training further south, preparations commence for the new season, which springs into action in just over a month's time at Sölden (AUT).
The coming winter will be full of important events, culminating in February with the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi.
The opening races of the Alpine Ski World Cup take place, as in several previous years, on the Rettembach glacier. First up will be the women's giant slalom, with the men to follow on the Sunday. Since 2007, the early-season classics have included the slalom at Levi (FIN), while the races outside Europe take place from November to early December.
Also in December, another regular date in the World Cup calendar gets under way, as the podium places are decided in the men's and women's competitions at Val d'Isere (FRA). To round off the year in style, Bormio (ITA) will host the classic men's downhill.
The men's and women's slalom in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, has also become an event not to miss at the start of the year. Meanwhile, in mid January, the women's downhill and superG will be contested in Cortina d'Ampezzo (ITA). Before the Olympics, there will still be time for the men's and women's speed races at Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) and the women's races at Maribor (SLO).
A year on from the World Championships in Schladming (AUT), the Styrian resort returns to host the classic World Cup slalom; The Night Race.
After the Olympics, the men move north to Kvitfjell (NOR), while their female colleagues get back on the slopes in Crans Montana (SUI).
The World Cup will reach its climax in Lenzerheide (SUI), once again: after bad weather took the shine off last year's event, the organizers have awarded them the grand finale again. From 12 to 16 March, the leaders in each discipline will fight it out for the last few points as they vie for the title.