Event: Women's super combined
When: Downhill (12:30 p.m. ET), slalom (3:30 p.m. ET). Vonn will start 18th in the downhill. The slalom order is determined by the finishes in the downhill. NBC will show heavily edited tape-delayed coverage during its 8 p.m. broadcast.
Analysis: Of the five events in which Vonn will compete in these Olympics, the super combined falls right in between the ones in which she's favored (downhill, super giant slalom) and a longshot (slalom, giant slalom). The super combined uses two runs, one from the downhill and one from a regular slalom course, to decide its winner.
The downhill run will be a clear advantage for Vonn. If not for a once-in-a-lifetime run for American teammate Julia Mancuso, Vonn would have won Wednesday's race by a stunning 1.46 seconds. Can she put together a similar run Thursday to buy herself some time in the slalom race, where she doesn't excel?
Don't buy Vonn's disingenuous claim Wednesday that she'd be content winning no other medals in Vancouver. Though she demurs when the subject of Michael Phelps is brought up and lowers expectations with talk of a shin injury (a topic that was ridiculously milked by NBC's Cynthia Potter last night — the British announcers on Eurosport had the better sense to ignore such talk after Vonn's win), Vonn didn't come to the Olympics for one medal. All the downhill gold does is make these Games not a failure. It will take another gold to make them a success.
After Wednesday's run, there's no reason to pick against Vonn. Her two main competitors had dreadful runs; Paerson fell and Riesch looked as if she was thinking about falling the whole time. Though there are better slalom skiers in the field (particularly Vonn's best friend, Riesch), Vonn is so far and above the rest in the downhill that another gold should be in the offing.
Prediction: Gold for Team USA's Lindsey Vonn, silver for Sweden's Anja Paerson, and bronze for Austria's Michaela Kirchgasse.